Do Successful Couples Have More In Common?

In online dating, it’s tempting to rule someone out who doesn’t share most of your interests. Here’s how two real-life couples — one, total opposites, another, practically twins — found harmony in love.

By Bob Strauss

eing of a logical, mathematical mind, I’m always dubious when couples tell me they have virtually everything or absolutely nothing in common (the words “everything” and “nothing,” in each case, breathed dramatically in identical semi-amazed, semi-sarcastic
Unfortunately, she hasn’t been as lucky as we’ve been on
tones of voice and, perhaps, accompanied by a theatrical hand gesture). “Everything,” you say? Well, I can think of some basic differences that surely apply, though they’re admittedly anatomical in nature. “Nothing,” you say? Well, you’re both people, right? And people can be perfectly imperfect while still being complementary to each other — as in, compatible.

Still, I have to admit, there are some couples that have significantly more or less in common than the statistical mean (and I don’t envy the scientists that have to compile such social data). With the help of the powers-that-be at, I was able to lasso a couple of these unlikely pairings who met each other online and get a better understanding of the dynamics behind their successful, albeit vastly different, relationships.

Couple #1: Letticia and David, “two peas in a pod”
Letticia and David are our first success couple who, by their own admission, are more alike than the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. So, how does a couple that agrees on everything keep the romance fresh? Read on…

What’s the one (hopefully unusual) thing the two of you share in common that stands out the most in your relationship?

We asked David’s 15-year-old son Brian to answer this one for us. He says we share the same “zany” personality and zest for life...we dance to jingles on commercials and we’re no strangers to spontaneous, silly outbursts. He says we’re quirky and “cute” together — and fun to be around.

OK, then. What’s the one (hopefully unusual) thing you wish you DIDN’T share in common?

Unfortunately, this is easy to answer, and there are probably many other couples out there that have a similar story. We wish we didn’t share David’s ex-wife — since we became engaged, she has become unbearable. Unfortunately, she hasn’t been as lucky as we’ve been on

What’s one thing you thought you shared in common, initially, but then discovered you were mistaken about?

Our political views! David’s a Republican and I’m a Democrat. We try to avoid political discussions in our home(s)! (Note from your humble writer: See? What did I tell you up above? How can a couple possibly say they
I’ve never had an argument with my significant other.
have “too much” in common when one of them is Red and the other Blue, which would be grounds for divorce in certain parts of the country? But I digress… after all, it works for Mary Matalin and James Carville).

Couple #2: Jennifer and Timothy, “opposites attract”
On the other end of the spectrum from Letticia and David we have Jennifer and Timothy, who say they couldn’t be more different than The O’Reilly Factor and The Daily Show. (Have I mentioned that I’ve been watching way too much TV lately?) Here, we find out how they overcome their many differences to keep their love going strong.

How do you deal with the major differences in your relationship?

It’s all about compromise for us. I work a 5:30 a.m. shift and am just getting off work when Tim starts his day — I take a nap before Tim gets home, so we can share the evening together. We have totally different families — Tim’s is very religious, so we spend Easter with his family and other holidays with mine. Also, I hate eating vegetables, but I still buy them and cook them for Tim’s dinner.

What’s the one (hopefully unusual) thing you wish you DID share in common?

We have completely opposite tastes in music, which makes it kind of difficult on long drives — especially when Tim handles the iPod. Also, I’m not the tidiest person, but I have my side of the bathroom counter where I keep out whatever I want, and Tim has his side where he puts away everything.

I have to ask. Do you think you have more fights than couples who have a lot in common?

As different as we are, we never fight, and that’s not an exaggeration. Tim balances me out completely. I am a very easily stressed, frantic, fiery person, and he’s very easygoing and carefree. When something disruptive comes up, we talk about it. Sometimes I may get a bit worked up, but Tim reminds me that all we need to do is talk. This is the only relationship I’ve ever had in which I’ve never had an argument with my significant other — and now we’re getting married!

The experts’ take on compatibility
By this point you may be asking yourself: how does this apply to me? Is it better to have too much in common, too little in common, or should you aim for that sweet spot where you simmer, mildly irritated, about some things, but cuddle affectionately while bonding together over others? According to Barbara Kennedy, author of Baby Boomer Men: Looking for Love, “People who stretch your comfort zone can help you to learn new things about yourself as a lover.” On the other hand, Terri Orbuch, author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, says that “similarities are what keep people together for the long term and lead to the most happiness in partnerships.” The expert take, then, seems to be: Step outside your comfort zone, but not to the point of feeling tested (or testy). Every person has a different set of deal breakers, and in love, all things are possible. So what do I think? I think I’m going to go watch some TV.

Bob Strauss is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives in New York City. He’s also written the Dinosaur guide on, the online information network owned by the New York Times.
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