Dear Dr. Romance:

What  is more important in a relationship: being balanced or compatible?

Dear Reader:

 Compatibility trumps balance, but balance may be an important component of compatibility. Compatibility means having similar core values, living together well and comfortably, and being able to talk through problems and reach a mutually satisfactory solution.  Balance is similar to mutuality.  

Differences can be frightening, and make resolving problems and conflicts with our intimate partners tense and difficult. In a relationship intimate enough that we feel a deep bonding or sense of commingled identity, it’s easy to experience disagreements as threatening. Disagreeing seems to indicate we are separate individuals who perceive everything differently, and have different needs and wants, and we fear that we'll be rejected or disapproved of if we are different.

With good communication and negotiation skills, any couple can create satisfying, loving intimacy. When you and your partner know how to cooperate, you can build a partnership in which you:

• Give and take equally.
• Are committed to mutual satisfaction.
• Face problems rather than avoiding them.
• Work together toward mutual satisfaction.
• Feel like a team.
• Treat each other's feelings, wants and needs as important.
• Share thoughts and feelings freely.
• Encourage each other and create excitement as well as comfort and security.
• Feel comfortable, satisfied, stimulated, and thus secure in the relationship.
• Have confidence that your relationship will last.

"Couples Can Cooperate For Success" will help you understand how to achieve mutuality.  How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free 4th Edition contains information and exercises to help you learn mutuality and cooperation with your partner.

Couple and Free 4th Edition

For low-cost counseling, email me at



Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.