Chris Rock once did a bit that went something like this…

”Whatever you into, your woman gotta be into too or the shit ain’t gonna work.  That’s right.  If you born again, your woman gotta be born again too.  If you a crackhead, your woman gotta be a crackhead too.”

I tried to track down the bit on YouTube for full comic effect but couldn’t find it.  It’s certainly not as funny written out but the point is the same.

You need to share common interests with your partner.

Or do you?

Aside from being hilariously funny, Rock has good insights into relationships.  If you follow him, you know he frequently talks about them in his routine.

But the way Rock puts it, isn’t exactly how it works, at least according to relationship experts.

Don Cole, Master Certified Therapist from the famous Gottman Institute, points out that both people don’t necessarily have to have the same interests for the relationship to work.

“Are we compatible because we both like football? Are we compatible because we both like rock music, or opera, or whatever? Those things are nice, but not essential,” he said. “What is essential is that we show interest in our partner, even if their interests are different.”

Many couples struggle because they treat their relationship like a competition where their interests are fair game to be challenged.

You may not like “The Real Housewives” and you may never watch the show but don’t ridicule your girlfriend when she does.  The more you criticize it, the more you’re actually criticizing her. 

According to Cole, who has helped thousands of couples, supporting one another’s interests is one of the strongest predictors of long-term relationship success.

But he points out another – when both people have a shared sense of meaning in the relationship.

So what does that mean?

Both people share a common purpose.  For example, they want to raise a family, create wealth, make a difference in their community or effect some social change. 

But it doesn’t have to be that ambitious.

It could be traveling the world, adopting a bunch of dogs or becoming super fans for their favorite team.

The purpose represents something bigger than themselves but also something they can share.

Chris Rock had it partially right – to have a strong relationship, you need to have some commonality.

But it doesn’t have to be liking the same hobbies or activities.

Supporting each other’s interests, especially if they diverge, and aligning on a common purpose – that’s the special sauce.

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