Building Blocks of a Relationship

I decided to ask Kim (we were on a short trip to Kauai) if she thought would have given us a chance, 30 years ago — a German and a Jew, one hot-head and one cool cat, one monogamous, the other not?

“Were we compatible after all?” I asked.

She laughed, “You mean, how come we’re still in love?” Then she answered my question. “We love to talk through everything,” she said.

That was true. You could call it the meta-compatibility that underlies all else– the glue that holds our two very different personalities and temperaments together. We are both what we sometimes call “verbal nuts,” always eager to define things, explain feelings and find the deeper meaning in what happens.18ixme23nvl3wjpg

“You’ve got to work out the fundamentals in a relationship, “ Kim continued. “The building blocks.”

“You mean, sex and money?”

“Why not? Let’s say, what each person needs to feel safe and happy. “

“But there are things that maybe can’t be worked out,” I said. “Like the fact that you can’t stand heat and I crave it.”

“We’ve just made it to Kauai together…”

“Our second beach vacation in 27 years,” I said.

You can’t have it all, baby. The first time we tried it, Kim suffered in the heat of the south coast, I was unhappy in the fog and rain of the north coast of the island. But this time, we had a surprise. Being older, Kim’s body now likes a bit of warmth, and my eternal hunger for sun has been somewhat satisfied after all our years in California. The wild north coast turned out to be okay for both of us.

“Isn’t that lucky,” she said. “Some problems work themselves out by themselves. Just give them time.”

“And what about those that remain?”

“Well, they are maybe just irritants…”

Our friend Laura once called them tolerable irritants. I like that formulation. It took us a few years to work out the basics — our major building blocks. Monogamy, money, our living space and pets were some of the biggies, and I will go into them in future posts. In the passionate (and sometimes painful) process of making both of us feel safe and happy, we discovered some compatibilities. One major example is the fact that we were both writers, able to edit each other’s work and even collaborate on several books. A big part of the process of testing our compatibility was meeting the other two big C’s that are in the play: Communication and Compromise.Crystal-Cartier-point-dume-beach-girls-1286

Stay tuned! (For more information, or to read Parts 1 and 2 of our Compatibility series, e-mail us at