Matching Essence Qualities

Additional Information for Chapter 10, Pages 143-150

The Compatibility Code goes to great lengths in Chapter 10 to make clear how the process of matching essence qualities works. Recognize that this process is designed to encourage discussion and thus a greater understanding of each other. We rate the content of Chapter 10 and the instructions contained the single greatest factor in determining compatibility. This prescript follows the first four steps as outlined in Chapter 10.

Rank Ordering Essences

We begin the process of rank ordering with an already complete list of essence qualities. These essences may change some over time, but in general they are very stable and additions, deletions, or modifications will be infrequent.

The purpose of ranking ordering is to provide an idea of relative importance of the essences on your list. As suggested inThe Compatibility Code, this rank ordering is quite imprecise. If a quality is an essence, it is, by definition, important. Thus, a finished, rank-ordered list should identify that items near the top of the list are more important than items at the bottom.However, it is impossible (and unnecessary) to determine whether item # 4 is really more important than item #5.

The purpose of the chapter is to instruct you on how to create a meaningful match of essence qualities with your partner.The ranking allows you to identify if you match (or have conflict) on the more important areas (those items near the top of the list) or on less important essences. It provides a structure that assists in further analysis and discussion.

Matching of essence qualities

The description on pages 145 and 146 of The Compatibility Code is quite clear. It is simple for the woman to write down her essences in order. In the Harry and Sally example used in the book, seven items are listed in order in the first column.

Filling in the second column may provide some difficulties because the wording on the two lists is not identical. For instance for Harry and Sally (p. 146), the four “matches” do not use identical wording.

The first one “Devout Christian” and “Fervent Christian” provide the only match with no ambiguity whatsoever.

The second one: “Professor of Business” and “Professor of Sociology” are listed as a match, but why? For Harry and Sally they listed these two as a match because they work at the same university, have been immersed in academia for their entire professionals lives, and are both in the business of instructing college students and conducting research. There are many more similarities than differences in their respective professions.

The next pair identified as a clear match was “plays piano” and “loves music”. Now depending on circumstances these two may or may not be identified as a clear match. Based on the knowledge of each partner and discussion on their respective involvement with music the couple will be able to identify this one as a clear match or an adapted match. There may even be instances when the two might be a challenged match if musical involvement and styles of music enjoyed are antagonistic to each other. For instance if one loves Southern Gospel and the other punk, grunge, and heavy metal we ensure a continual war. In the Harry and Sally example, their musical loves harmonize wonderfully-and thus the classification as a clear match.

The final clear match was “snuggler and romantic” and “affectionate”. This pair looks like an obvious clear match, but there are some instances in which two people differ radically on their style of affection and closeness and it would be listed as an adapted match or a challenged match. Again discussion between the two partners will determine how this particular match is classified.

And recall, discussion of these items is one of the chief reasons for completing these charts. If things are initially ambiguous, as you discuss, clarity will, in most cases, emerge.

Identifying the Type of Match

We already have a solid start on the issue of “type of match” because that is what we considered in the previous section.Even on clear matches (coded “A”) a good deal of discussion between partners will not only identify how a particular match (or non-match) should be coded, but also provide a greater depth of understanding between the partners. Since we have already considered A-the clear match, we devote the remainder of space on this topic to:

B-adapted match
C-challenged match
D-non match
Note: be aware that The Compatibility Code already discusses these in some detail.

B-the adapted match: The adapted match is essentially qualities in which both partners are in agreement but it is more important (or more defining) to one than it is to the other. As we consider the items on page 149 of The Compatibility Code that are coded “B”, even more important than the eventual coding is the discussion that provides a depth of understanding of similarities and differences on each of these issues. We consider brief hypothetical discussions (or assessments) of the Harry and Sally’s B-coded items to illustrate.

She: outgoing and vivacious; He: no similar essence. Harry is portrayed as much less outgoing than Sally. Harry enjoys Sally’s vivacious nature despite the fact that he doesn’t share it. In looking down the road, it would well for the couple to consider how this will wear over time. Is there concern that Sally’s vivaciousness after 10 years might be viewed as crass and noisy? Is there a possibility that Harry’s more reserved nature, over time, will become boring and non-interactive? As described in The Compatibility Code (and in other prescripts), Elizabeth and I share this contrast and yet we have resolved it very comfortably. For us, it is, indeed, an “adapted match”. For others discussion may place it in the “challenged” category.

She: Accomplishment oriented; He: no similar essence. Both Harry and Sally are hard workers. Both recognize that there is a difference between “being busy” and “getting things done”. Both are eager to accomplish a lot and determine the most effective and efficient ways to do so. This one is a comfortable match, even verging up toward the A category, a clear match.

She: Loves children; He: no similar essence. To Sally a family with children is pretty much the essence of what family is all about. Harry likes children and is all agreeable about a family, but it is not central to his identity. This provides a perfect example of an “adapted match”. As the couple move toward marriage they will consider the many details of their home and eventual children.

He: logical thinker; she: no similar essence. Essentially any university professor is able to think logically. To Harry it’s a central component of his nature, to Sally it is a process by which things get done efficiently. Problems arise when a logical thinker gets married to an emotional reactive responder (an emotional reaction does not even qualify as thought).

He: Decisive; She: no similar essence. This depends on what Harry means by “decisive”. If decisive means that he moves forward with confidence after thorough assessment of the utility of a particular decision or activity, then it should work fine.If decisive simply means that he makes choices without due process, then clings fiercely to his choice even when evidence suggests that he is dead wrong, then we have real problems. This is called “stubborn” or “bull headed”, not decisive.

He: entrepreneurial; She: no similar essence. This one has potential to provide some challenges. It depends on how Harry’s entrepreneurial nature expresses itself and how comfortable Sally is with that expression. Sally is not entrepreneurial. She prefers the stability of regular job that provides regular paychecks. Given this match, the relationship might work fine if Harry’s entrepreneurial nature is expressed by:

  • Writing the occasional text book for royalties
  • Writing articles for pay
  • Budgeting and investing to provide a secure future
  • Be ever on the lookout for a good investment opportunity
  • Work out a plan for eventual financial independence.

It would probably not work if Harry jumped into every network marketing scheme that came along, made shaky, high risk investments, and started ill-conceived businesses that bankrupted the family and had low probability of success.

You can quickly see how discussion of these issues would determine how to code the match (adapted, challenged) and also provide a wealth of personal information about each other.

C-the Challenged match: The challenged match involves qualities or perspectives that are actually antagonistic to each other. This is the athlete married to someone who has no interest in athletics or fitness. It is the professional musician who marries someone unsympathetic to the style of music he performs. It is the outdoor enthusiast married to someone who dislikes the entire “wilderness” thing. It is labeled “challenged” because it will take a good deal of thought and effort to come up with solutions. If you have more than one of them, it typically spells death to the relationship. If there is great strength in other areas, a relationship may be able to endure one, perhaps two.

An additional thought: Remember that we are talking about essence qualities, not mere interests. There was a horrifying article written by someone named Rick Holland who claimed that compatibility wasn’t important only that you be a Christian and pray a lot. He went on to cite differences he and his wife possessed to “prove” his point. This is where ignorance gets you off track. As supporting evidence he mentions that he likes mushrooms and she doesn’t. This is totally trivial. Is there anyone who likes and dislikes exactly the same foods? Then he comes up with: he likes sports and she likes classic movies. Now we move from trivia to different interests-certainly not essences. How difficult is it for him to watch the occasional classic movie with her and for her to watch the occasional football game with him? How many people have identical interests? No, the topic of this section is essence qualities, things that define us.

In the Harry and Sally example two items are coded “C”.

  • He maintains a high level of fitness, she doesn’t
    He loves the outdoors, she doesn’t

Even before we discuss these two, consider another issue. It is not so much that a contrast exists as how severe is the challenge posed, and can you figure out ways to resolve these issues. Let’s look at the two:

He maintains a high level of fitness, she doesn’t. In a discussion about this contrast, many questions might be considered:

  • How disturbed is Harry that Sally Doesn’t work out?
  • How open is Sally to implementing any sort of exercise or diet regimen of her own?
  • At present Sally is pert and sexy despite not exercising. But how about 15 or 20 years later when she has gained     50 lbs and has lost all shape? How upsetting is that going to be to Harry?
  • How does Sally feel about Harry’s devotion to fitness? Is she able to enthusiastically support him in these activities?
  • Even if she is unwilling to exercise, is she willing to eat healthfully and seek to retain a healthy weight?
  • When children become part of the picture what sort of diet and exercise patterns do you want to model for them?

All these and other questions should be considered thoughtfully. On pages 158 – 160 of The Compatibility Code, 12 scenarios are presented in which challenged matches are considered. Notice that six of them worked out to eventual resolution. Six of them did not. As you consider these differences, determine whether either partner is willing to do what made for success for the couples listed on the left side of the chart in The Compatibility Code.

If you don’t have The Compatibility Code, buy it! Buy it from our own web page or from any of the major book distributors. But if you don’t have it, I reproduce the 12 contrasting examples since they illustrate the point so well.

Acceptable resolution achieved Acceptable resolution NOT achieved
1. Andre is a concert pianist and practices three to four hours a day. Ruby has little musical talent but supports his practice and performance schedule, spends time learning more about music, attends all his concerts, and makes every effort to be supportive of his growth as a musician. 1a. Marc is a concert pianist and practices three to four hours a day. Vanessa has little musical talent, finds his endless practice of scales and arpeggios slowly driving her crazy, suggests that he find somewhere else to practice, does not attend his concerts and makes little effort to understand Marc’s world.
2. Alicia is a researcher in the field of psychology; her partner, Garrick, is neither psychologically or mathematically inclined but reads her write-ups (despite some gaps of knowledge in the analysis sections), discusses with pleasure some of the findings, and develops a growing interest and awareness of her area of expertise. 2a. Amanda is a prominent Ph.D. physicist who takes ultimate pleasure in researching the mysteries of the universe. She is dating a handsome hunk with the IQ of a cabbage. The hunk does not have the resources to ever appreciate the brilliant mind (and hence the world) of his partner. 
3. A young couple discusses having children. Karla grew up in a warm, nurturing home and wants several children; Daniel was an only child and would actually prefer to have no children. He has never particularly enjoyed the mini-critters but decides to assist in the local elementary school once a week and discovers a growing fascination with the little tykes. Eventually he grows to the point that a family with children is something he realizes he can embrace and enjoy. 3a. Ellie wants children, Allen doesn’t. Because he loves Ellie he tries the same trick as his innovative counterpart, Daniel. In every contact with young ‘uns he realizes how incompatible his nature is with the smelly, clamoring, noisy little brats. He finds himself unable to embrace a marriage that involves devoting 20-25 years of his life to bringing them up. 
4. Anna is an agnostic who has little interest in spiritual things. Paul is a deeply committed Christian. Both want children and realize that the spiritual contrast would not be good for their family. Anna knows that Paul is not going to give up or seriously alter his beliefs so she begins to study with the local pastor, reads books like C. S. Lewis’Surprised by Joy, begins to attend church with Paul, and eventually nurtures her spiritual side into a full commitment that integrates into Paul’s spiritual world. 4a. Susie is an agnostic who has little interest in spiritual things. Silas is a deeply committed Christian. Susie knows that Silas is not going to give up his spiritual beliefs. In spite of efforts on Susie’s part to nurture a spiritual perspective she finds herself hardening into atheism and an increasing antagonism toward those associated with religion. 


5. Pam is a party animal who enjoys an active social life and derives energy when around other people. Dudley enjoys people but is quieter and prefers one-on-one contacts. He typically finds the party setting pointless and eventually tiring. However, Dudley is genuinely eager to become more social and Pam realizes that she would benefit by a reduction of her party fever-which has often gotten her into trouble in the past. Even with persistent effort, there is never a match of sociability, but Dudley learns to enjoy the occasional party, becomes genuinely more interested in social interactions and Pam learns to enjoy some of Dudley’s quieter joys. 5a. Frizzle is a party animal who enjoys an active social life and derives energy when around other people. Marvin enjoys people but is quieter and prefers one-on-one contacts. He finds the party setting often pointless and eventually tiring. Frizzle’s social activities are very important to her, her parties much too much fun to consider change. Marvin by contrast finds most parties a torment and no effort can shift that perspective. Even though they love each other, they eventually realize that an integrated life is not possible. 


6. Anthony is a triathlete who pursues his obsession with fierce determination and crams two hours a day into training despite a full time job. His wife, Elly, was a rower in her college days and pursued the sport for several years beyond graduation. Despite the different sports, she understands the fascination with achievement and the daily grit and discipline required for success. Elly herself pursues an active lifestyle, runs and bikes with her husband from time to time and attends and supports him during his three or four competitive efforts each year. 6a. Gunther is a triathlete who pursues his obsession with fierce determination and crams two hours a day into training despite a full time job. His partner, Michelle, has never pursued athletics (or any other keen passion for that matter), cannot comprehend how anyone could be so obsessed with such a pointless activity, is terminally unfit herself and has no interest either in participating with him or going to his competitions. 

He loves the outdoors, she doesn’t. Once again whether this issue can be negotiated depends on how severe is the challenge and how adaptable is each of the partners. In the case of Harry and Sally the contrast is notable. If a vacation is looming, Harry would prefer to take a back packing trip whereas Sally would rather spend it at a resort with accommodations in a 5-star hotel. Now, there is no issue about Harry being able to enjoy Sally’s preference from time to time. Even backpackers can occasionally enjoy luxury, as long as they are not worried about how much it costs. But is Harry condemned to always camp or backpack by himself?

The question does not have a direct answer. As the 12 examples above suggest, it depends on the willingness and adaptability of the two who participate in the discussion. They may decide it is fine for Harry to head out on a backpack trip, with or without friends, from time to time. It is fine if he enjoys himself to the hilt and he is not particularly concerned that Sally is not along, and Sally doesn’t mind his absence.

Are there ways for Sally to gain an interest in camping or backpacking? This requires as a starting point that Sally is at least willing to consider the idea of camping or backpacking. A good place to begin might be to explore why Sally dislikes camping. For those who hate camping you can come up with a number of reasons in a flash: constant grit, mosquitoes, sleeping on hard rocks, no chance of shower, smoke in the face, sand in the food. The list is endless.

After you have looked honestly at the challenges, then you consider whether there are ways to moderate these negatives to the point that Sally can at least tolerate (enjoy? Don’t press your luck!) an occasional camping trip. Thus the conversation progresses and in the process of time and discussion the two of you will determine whether this issue is resolvable.

D-non match: The non-match does not require substantive conversation. There are essence qualities that are so antagonistic that the gap cannot be bridged: devout Christian with militant atheist; tobacco farmer with anti-smoking advocate; minister with prostitute; fitness coach with someone who is terminally unfit and doesn’t care. Read Chapter 8 on Disqualifiers to gain an understanding of some of the dynamics of response to an impossible match.

Identifying the degree of encouragement

As the discussion progresses, it will become evident that the two of you are different. There are essences that you don’t share. Since essences are central to a person’s identity, you don’t even think of marrying someone unless you can be supportive of your partner in their essences. The inclusion of the coding for support of your partner has come very late in the process of creating The Compatibility Code. Now that it is there we regard it as one of the most important and clarifying mechanisms to assist you in relating to your partner’s essences that differ from your own.

We reproduce the 11 codings (below) to facilitate the discussion that follows

E1 – Enthusiastic encouragement-full participation
E2 – Enthusiastic encouragement -partial participation
E3 – Generous encouragement-full participation
E4 – Generous encouragement-partial participation
E5 – Generous encouragement-little or no participation
E6 – Partial encouragement-partial participation
E7 – Partial encouragement-little or no participation
E8 – Little or no encouragement-partial participation
E9 – Little or no encouragement-little or no participation
E10 – Passive irritation
E11 – Active antagonism

To further clarify, we begin at the bottom of the chart, particularly E10-passive irritation and E11-active antagonism.

E10-passive irritation,
E11-active antagonism

As stated flatly in The Compatibility Code if you have an attitude of passive irritation or active antagonism toward an essence quality of your partner, the relationship is toast. Break it off and look elsewhere

“That’s pretty grim,” I hear one of you say, “isn’t irritation and occasional antagonism simply part of life, part of any relationship?” “Quite right,” say I, but there is a huge difference between being irritated because your partner left his clothes on the floor and being irritated because he is an avid hockey fan. Irritation about dropped clothes is a passing concern. At least we hope (and suggest) that he alter his behavior. A loving partner will. Dropping-clothes-on-the-floor is not an essence quality. Being passionate about hockey may be. To be irritated (or antagonistic) about something that is central to your partner’s identity guarantees one of two results: 1) a lifetime of irritation and antagonism on your part (with your partner a life-long victim of your attitude), or 2) your partner ceases the activity and becomes less of a person than he used to be. You do not want to experience the former nor become guilty of the latter.

E8- little or no encouragement, partial participation,
E9- little or no encouragement, little or no participation

At first blush it may seem that an E8 or an E9 attitude toward a partner’s essence would also pose challenges. But, as Ira Gershwin might put it, “It Ain’t Necessarily So”. Let’s say you each have 10 essence qualities with three clear matches.That leaves seven essences that differ. There is no way that you will be equally enthusiastic or equally participatory in each of these seven areas. Also remember, that’s seven each, making a total of 14 areas.

I think my fascination with track and field and track and cross-country coaching provides a good example. Elizabeth has little knowledge or interest in track. We rarely discuss it and she rarely comes to a track or cross-country meet that my athletes participate in. Her lack of knowledge and lack of participation in no way disturbs me. When push comes to shove, she is supportive. Examples:

When my subscription to Track and Field News comes up for renewal, I have occasionally said, “It’s too expensive, I don’t think I’ll renew this year.” Elizabeth’s response: “No way! You’ve subscribed for 30 years! Get a three-year subscription this time, then you don’t have to renew so often.” When I have occasionally grumbled that maybe I shouldn’t coach because it takes too much time, her response is equally emphatic: “It’s in your blood, it provides life-long benefit to the kids, it is an important service to the community. Do it!”

There was one time that she was very actively supportive. In 2001 the World Championships of Track and Field was hosted by Edmonton, just an hour north of where we live. Elizabeth called around and raised the money for a full 10 day pass. I went all 10 days, enjoyed it thoroughly, and she never came. Now, that type of participation would certainly push her participation up to at least the E7 level, but usually E8 would be an adequate description.

So, despite an absence of much knowledge of what I do and little participation, her attitude of support makes me a happy camper.

E1 – Enthusiastic encouragement-full participation
E2 – Enthusiastic encouragement-partial participation
E3 – Generous encouragement-full participation
E4 – Generous encouragement-partial participation
E5 – Generous encouragement-little or no participation
E6 – Partial encouragement-partial participation
E7 – Partial encouragement-little or no participation

We include the top seven in a single clump because all represent a positive response to the essence quality of your partner.For each of the seven there is tacit acknowledgment that a passive attitude toward the essence of your partner is not an option. Which essence you deal with will determine your level of encouragement and participation. The Compatibility Code does such good job of providing examples (and discussion) on several levels of support and participation that I will simple reproduce those examples here. You will also hear the track example re-told from Elizabeth’s perspective.

Example of an E1 Rating (enthusiastic encouragement, full participation). When Darren and I married we were both in love with music. I was thrilled to sing in the Briarwood Presbyterian Church Choir, a large and talented group often accompanied by full orchestra. Darren’s background was piano and trombone, particularly the trombone where he, over the years, played in bands, orchestras, and a number of smaller ensemble groups. Darren played and toured with the university band, and immediately after we married I considered singing in the university choir. However, as I told you before, I decided I would learn the French horn so I could participate with Darren-something I could not do if I sang in the choir. Six years later, Darren and I play and tour with a chamber orchestra. We also encouraged this passion in my twins as we modeled both the love and discipline of music to them. At Christmas we all haul our instruments to Alabama and play along with the Christmas carols while others sing. Today, both girls (in the seventh grade as of this writing) play the trumpet and are good enough that all four of us play and tour with the university band. Not only did I participate in Darren’s essence quality, but I also challenged him to improve. I’ll ask Darren to tell the now legendary story in our family in his own words:

I played trombone pretty well but one day Elizabeth said, “You want to play that thing good?” Irritated, I responded, “I already play pretty good.” Elizabeth said, “You want to play that thing good?” More irritated, I again responded, “I already play pretty good.” Once more with prickly disdain she said, “You want to really play that thing good?” I understood. I joined the Ritchie Trombone Choir the following month, and a year later began to take lessons from the principal trombonist of a highly respected symphony orchestra. Four years later I am principal trombone in the Ritchie Group and frequently solo with a number of different ensembles. Recently my teacher said, “You have acquired all the skills of a professional, and while they need to continue to be developed and applied more consistently, you are at the top of the heap among amateur trombonists in Alberta.”

Example of an E2 Rating (enthusiastic encouragement, partial participation). After I moved to Canada to be with Darren, I taught in the School of Business at Canadian University College for six years. During my sixth-year there, Darren and I discussed the idea of my becoming a full time public speaker and consultant. Despite the fear of having our family income cut in half, Darren was fully supportive of the move and continued to be encouraging even when my income was unstable. As an E2 rating suggests, while providing enthusiastic encouragement, he could not fully participate because he was not a public speaker. He would attend my speeches when his schedule allowed, which I appreciated, but it was more important to me that he kept encouraging me as I worked to become a successful entrepreneur.

Example of an E7 Rating (partial encouragement, little or no participation). Darren was a nationally ranked runner in his youth. His 2:20:10 marathon was eleventh fastest in the U.S. in 1972. He has continued to enjoy track and field and coaches local high school athletes in cross-country and track. I have no intrinsic interest in track and field, but when Darren expresses concern to me about whether his coaching involvement is perhaps taking too much time away from family, I encourage him to continue. When the 2001 World Championships of Track and Field were hosted by Edmonton, just an hour up the road from us, I pooled the resources of family members who chipped in to buy him a full ten-day pass. He enjoyed every moment; I did not attend, which was okay with him. But he knows that I am fully supportive of this specific interest of his.

The first seven levels of encouragement typically represent an excellent encouragement response to the essence qualities of one’s partner. Numbers E8 and E9 are also acceptable in certain cases. Please don’t burden your relationship with the expectation of having to enjoy everything together. Darren and I do in fact have several qualities that we score somewhere between an E8 and an E9. I’ll give you and example of an 8/9 rating to show you that even when something looks insurmountable, it can be dealt with, as long as there’s a lot of love and no small amount of thought and humor put into it.

Example of an E8/E9 Rating (little or no encouragement and reluctant participation). Here’s the story: I love animals, but I haven’t had a pet for many, many years. Being a single mother with twin daughters and moving fairly often was not conducive to pets. Darren and I discussed pets before we married and, while he likes animals, he feels that they must have the proper environment; having a pet depends on how and where you live. Eventually, we did get a cat. Our very independent cat fit well with our incredibly active lifestyle. But, over the years, there has always been the matter of “the dog.” The twins and I wanted a dog. After all, I had spent several years (before children) training and owning Labrador Retrievers, and while Darren loves dogs he thinks you need to live in the country on five acres to own anything that woofs. Every time he would say this, the twins would moan: “by the time you own five acres and a house, we’re going to married and gone. We want a dog while we’re still kids!” The impasse lasted until this past summer when my very smart daughters who studied their stepfather well produced a PowerPoint presentation explaining why a golden retriever was the perfect dog for our environmental and financial circumstances. Darren, the logical researcher and academician, knew when he had been beaten at his own game. We are now the proud owners of a lovely golden retriever, Amber, and while things are going well, this scenario still definitely ranks as an E8 or E9. Darren gives us little or no encouragement, but he will participate by running or “loving on” the dog when her soulful eyes beg for his attention. He doesn’t like the fact that Amber doesn’t have a farm to run on, but he’s a softy at heart, and Amber’s got some pretty eloquent eyes.

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