The Partnership of Your Relationship - It's Not Just About YOU
You, on your own.
When you live alone, you get to decide what's "clean enough," what foods need to be kept stocked up, what temperature you want the thermostat set to, whether or not to keep the back door locked. It's up to you if you want to spend the money on the electric to fall asleep with the TV on every night.
When you live with roommates you don't get to make all those decisions by yourself anymore. There's a common courtesy. You ask a roommate if they are hot or cold, and if you can turn the heat down. You agree once a week is enough to clean the bathroom, and you agree to take turns. You discuss who can have keys, and what doors need to be locked. You talk about who's going to write the check out for the light bill, agree on what date rent has to be paid, and figure out how the food and the fridge will be separated or how to keep it all friendly and communal.
Being in a relationship is the same way. You may not realize it, but it is a partnership. You don't just get to state your way, and expect your partner to fall in line.
Negotiate, Accommodate, Compromise, & Agree.
Don't assume your opinion is "right" or that it's "just plain common sense."
You may feel strongly about all bills getting paid on time. You may be a little frugal, and adhere to budget. You may make sure you can stick $50 bucks into your savings account every pay day. You may *think* this is all normal. It's not. Your partner may be a little more free wheeling. Maybe they've never saved money, never worried about paying bills late. Never worry about a budget, and spend more than they can afford to on clothes, or charities, or going out.
As a partner, you don't get to say to your significant other, "Well no more of that." You're equals, and you both have as much say in how things will be run within the partnership. Maybe your partner says to you that they've always had a bit of a spending problem and would like for you to take over the finances. That's great. But if your partner doesn't want to adhere to your strict financial good sense, you have to negotiate, accommodate, compromise and agree. It's not that hard.
Negotiate - There's nothing wrong with give and take. Maybe she agrees to budget $40 a week for his Friday night out with the guys, if he agrees to budget $40 a week for her tanning and nails.
Accommodate - You want your partner to be happy, and sometimes something is just more important to them than it is to you. Pick your battles. Maybe she thinks you spend too much on sports. And truth be told, maybe you really aren't as in to going to so many games, you just like to hang out with the guys. So you agree to for-go every other game, and instead meet up with the guys afterward. This gives her wiggle room in the budget to feel comfortable about savings and future planning. It's not giving in, it's accommodating. And it will come back to reward you.
Compromise - Maybe you don't want to save anything, and she wants to put away $50 a week. So you agree to put away $25 a week. Easy compromise.
Agree - When you're finished going over your finances together, shake on it. Even if something is unresolved, like how much you donate to a local food pantry every month, at least agree to disagree.
Money is only one example of the kind of thing you have to agree upon in a partnership. How about having kids? Are you dating your guy just assuming he wants marriage and kids, because you do? Think again.
From the lighter things like decorating the house, to the serious things like whether or not you to allow an aging parent to move in, you can't just state what you want and expect your partner to follow along like a baby duck.
Money is one of the biggest hurdles in any relationship. Another is cheating. And just as in the example of finances, there has to be real conversation and agreement on cheating.
I've reviewed this in some different HUBS. What two consenting adults decide they want to do within the privacy of their own relationship is nobody else's business. It doesn't matter what your friends think, or what so-and-so is doing. You and your partner are the only people that have any say in what's right for you.
Some people think porn is unacceptable. Some think going to a strip bar is cheating. Some people thing speaking to any ex-partners is way too suspicious. And some people disagree. Maybe a circumstance arises that you haven't thought about before, like bachelor parties, an ex in the workplace, or even close dancing. Your feelings aren't wrong - but it is important to realize that they are YOURS, and may not be the same as your partner's.
You can't demand that your partner not watch porn, or hang out with an ex. and if your partner is making those demands of you, mark my words that it is a shadow of things to come. You have to work this out and agree on how to handle things. If you two are incapable of negotiating, accommodating, compromising and agreeing, you need to reconsider being in this relationship.
Drinking, getting drunk or high, adopting pets, buying furniture, inviting overnight guests, - these are all things you don't get to just go ahead and do if you feel so inclined. You have to consider your partner, and their decisions regarding these things too. How about privacy? You both have to agree on how to handle opening each other's mail, going on each other's computers, and going through each other's stuff. Does he have friends you can't stand? Does she have family you don't want to deal with? How do you feel about fighting in public? These are all potential explosives if you don't diffuse ahead of time by hearing each other out and arriving at some basic set of parameters you're both comfortable with.
Some things are deal breakers. If you each feel entirely differently about marriage, or having children, you need to face the fact that you don't have a future. It's not about just you. You don't automatically get what you want, you can't force them to live your way because you said so. Being in a relationship decidedly to change the other person is a recipe for failure.
If you can't work through all the parameters, then you need to set some ground rules.
Agree to be a partner.
Maybe this all sounds too clinical, and you are a more roll-with-the-punches, let's see what unfolds kind of person. That's cool, however you want to roll is you're own business.
But it's important that you both accept that this a partnership. As things come up, agree to communicate and be honest. If you have communication and honesty, there isn't much that can take down your relationship. Make a conscious effort not to assume how your partner thinks or feels. Instead take the time to ask. Don't bark orders. Instead, offer to listen to your partner's take on things and work out a solution.
You shouldn't be with someone if you're determined to change them. I remember clearly, a woman I knew who was breaking up with her beau. She said, "He wouldn't change! He so isn't ready for a real relationship." The exact opposite was the truth. She was the one that wasn't ready to be a partner.
As the unforeseen becomes seen, agree that you'll work together like a team to figure out a way for both of you to be comfortable.