Does your partner listen attentively to what you say? Does he/she remember important issues you discussed the day after? Do they ask pertinent questions about your issues? Do they ask how they can be of help or if they should keep a distance? If you say you want input, do you get it or a shrug and waning attention. It’s important to watch and see if your partner tends to say no to every request you make without seeming to mull it over or ask more questions about it.

How about this important issue — does he/she do their domestic tasks without nagging to get them done? If you don’t live together and you make dinner does your romantic interest help with cleanup? Is that person watching sports or favorite TV programs more than talking to you? If more time is spent with buddies or girlfriends as a regular habit rather than with you, you might want to deal with that. If you complain  do you get called a nag or too controlling and seething anger?

It’s important to introduce your partner, after a reasonable amount of time, to your family. Are they reluctant or do it grudgingly? If family is important to you it’s possibly a deep conflicting situation. When you are out with your your lover’s friends and it’s all comfortable that’s fine, but if out with your friends and tensions rise, then ask why. If your answer is there’s no common ground or some other issue and no compromise in sight, look very carefully at these red flags. Does your partner demand that you fit into a traditional gender role without any leeway for an equal exchange and it disturbs you – time to question the relationship.

A good way to avoid a lot of misconceptions is that once you feel committed to a person try to set up, verbally or written, with both parties, what  likes and dislikes you have. If that person is unwilling and it’s important to you it might spell trouble ahead. It’s very important to know upfront how each of you functions, feels, thinks and behaves. Know what you can negotiate and what you can’t. Listen carefully to your partner and expect the same.

And if you decide to keep all problems under wraps until you get married, thinking you can make changes then? Think again. Good chance you will not change that person and it is unfair to spring it on them after signing that certificate when you have tolerated annoying habits during the courtship. Use your brain as well as your heart to clear a path to a great relationship





1)No name calling.

2) Listen to what is being said. What is it your spouse/partner is asking?

3) Don’t be defensive by throwing out what the other is doing wrong.

4) Think about whether it is accurate.

5) If you find the accusation is valid come up with an idea of how to deal with it.

6) If you feel it is not accurate, in a calm steadfast way detail why you think it is unfair. No screaming.

7) If a good, rational case is made that you are wrong take time to really delve into what is causing you to behave/speak in a way that is hurtful.

8) Did your father/mother speak that way. It may feel comfortable for you to imitate that behavior but your spouse/partner may not agree.

9) If a change is forthcoming, find a way to stop yourself when you know you will say something hurtful, like a light bite on the tongue or pinch yourself.

10) Even if you disagree with the complaint what you are doing/saying, however innocent, is not agreeing with your spouse/partner. Change it. We all have different sensitivities.

11) Each make a list detailing what it is that bothers you about the other person and study then go over those lists together. Make a big effort to change.

12) No attempt to listen, heed the complaint and refusing to attempt to change is a recipe for disaster.


Frances Metzman, author, essayist, journalist