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The Partnership of Your Relationship - It's Not Just About YOU

Updated on March 24, 2010

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.

Deal Breaker?

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.

The Hangover - Bossy Girlfriend


Submit a Comment
  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    11 years ago from NY

    Thanks Marci Leigh! 'Glad you liked the clip choice. :D

  • Marci Leigh profile image

    Marci Leigh 

    11 years ago from Minnesota

    Great Hub. The clip from The Hangover was a fantastic choice; those two should be the textbook example of a couple gone wrong.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    11 years ago from NY

    Thanks Madison22!

    The Hangover is hysterical, I hope you enjoy it!

  • Madison22 profile image


    11 years ago from NYC

    Veronica, what a great read and the video cracked me up, now I have to watch that movie. Thank you for a good hub. :-)

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    11 years ago from NY

    Thank you AntoineAllen!

  • AntoineAllen profile image


    11 years ago from New York City


  • profile image


    11 years ago

    Wow, an interesting insight into that. I had thought about men being more socialized or genetically suited or whate3ver to be team-players before (which I credit for them getting along better in the Army), but never related that to how it might affect them as relationship partners.


  • profile image


    11 years ago

    V - I loved reading your list of indulgences. :D

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    11 years ago from NY


    I really don't know. I have a ton of emails from women who make too many sacrifices. But I probably have more info and comments and emails from the guys that do, or from the women who have guys that are making too many sacrifices, even though the gal's aren't seeing it.

    One thing I believe is that guys tend to be more geared toward team sports. They seem to really understand how to be part of a team, and take into consideration the other parts of that team. I think they are actually better hardwired to be partners. In general, women don't get it. Not the way guys do anyway.

    However, women make the huge mistake more often of getting into a relationship that's not right, and doing anything to try to make it work... Thereby, making too many sacrifices and compromises.

    To sum that up, in healthy relationships I think men are better at being partners. In unhealthy relationships, women are more likely to try anything to make it work including being the one to make all the sacrifices and compromises.

    How's that for a mouthful!

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    11 years ago from NY

    Excellent Hub-

    Offering to a hire a cleaning service was a brilliant idea. It completely shows that you are ready to be a partner, that you are trying to compromise, that you are careful of what he needs to feel comfortable.

    His total resistance to your intelligent fair compromise, not to mention his judging it, is a major red flag.

    I think you're right - money and housework are two very real issues that cause a great deal of stress on couples. I don't know of any good resource (other than my hubs, wink) that you could go to for help.

    Negotiating and compromising are so incredibly important. I really am convinced that on almost any issue, if you are BOTH willing to compromise, you will eventually find a solution.

    This is what flagged for me with your man. He is not compromising. He wants what he wants, and that's that. He's even judging you when he says he was raised to do those sorts of things himself. Very bad sign here, dear. Do not let him judge you, or ever make you feel like you're wrong. You're the one being a partner here. You're the one willing to work at this and compromise. Therefore, he's the one that's "wrong."

    Taking care of an elderly parent is as important a conversation as the ones you have on deciding whether or not to have children. This is one of the very few rock-solid deal breakers there is. There's no compromise on this. You can't have 1/2 a kid. You can't keep an elderly relative outside in the yard. There's no half-way on this. I have been working on a Hub about this for a while, and it still needs more research before I can finish it. If you would like to, I'd love it if you emailed me through my profile and told me about your elderly parent situation. All your feelings, all you're going through with anticipating it. Anything at all you'd like to share would be great, and probably very helpful to others as well.

    Thanks so much for commenting, I really appreciated it.

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    And Marissa, good on you! I'm so glad to hear you have a good partner now who is as supportive of you as you are of him. I have some hopes at the moment, but with any luck and a lot of hard work, one day I will have that too.

    And my respect to you also for coping with difficult parts in your partner (as I hope he does for you too!). He sounds lucky indeed to have you. I always loved the difficult ones, myself, so I have great esteem for you reading this.

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    V, do you think there might be a generalized gender difference on this? That might make a great Hub, just considering it and you'd be the one to write it.

    Obviously many times it might be the men making more accomodation over themselves and not the women, but from my experience and the women I know and from Marissa's comment too, I think there may be a general trend on this.

  • profile image

    Excellent Hub 

    11 years ago

    Thanks, Veronica, for such a great hub. This is right on my radar at the moment because my boyfriend and I are moving in together next month (we've been dating for 16 months or so). I'm particularly stressed about it because, unlike the norm, I'm the messy one. I've got a lot of great qualities, but tidiness is not one of them (not dirty, just messy). And I know this is going to be a struggle as he's neater---not OCD but neater than me (though most are). I've found that this issue and money issues are commonly tied to value judgments. It was a problem with my ex as even though I proposed a cleaning service that I'd fully pay for to avoid having to do chores like clean the bathrooms (I work full-time and it seemed like a better business decision as my time is worth than the money to pay someone else to do it), he was very resistant to it because he was raised to do those sorts of things yourself. I am trying to negotiate these waters right now with this new relationship and it seems like many people grow up with a lot of scripts on what is right or what is "good"--money and housekeeping probably being only 2 of many.

    In negotiating these things, I was wondering if you had any books or sources to recommend on having a lot of these sort of long term discussions---both relevant to moving in together as well as marriage. For example, the taking care of an elderly parent discussion. I can see that as being something many people don't talk about before marriage but can be a big issue later on. Do you have a list or a good book to recommend that lists these sorts of discussion topics? If so, I'd love to know about it.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    11 years ago from NY

    Marisa, that sounds stressful. It's great that you recognize the good things, like how you don't have to mother him. Some relationships are hard work, and sometimes it's worth it. I'm sorry you feel some resentment, that's totally normal and natural. Maybe you can find a way to exercise that resentment out. If you can talk to him about it, that's great. Sometimes just "evening" out in your head will work, like if you indulge yourself in some way on something else, maybe that will help attract tolerance and calmness from you in these other areas. My indulgences - buying something ridiculous on Ebay, a spa treatment, a fantastic bottle of wine, driving to Atlantic City for a night with my gal friends to dance in clubs and forget about the world. AMAZING how refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of life you feel after you treat yourself like a princess.

    keiranthapa and AdrianSmith - Thanks so much! Being a "partner" is probably a little more involved than many people assume before getting involved in a meaningful relationship. I always hope my advice is practical and useful. Thank you!

  • AdrianSmith profile image


    11 years ago

    Agree to be a partner. I think it's very important sign in relationships, because relationships are always a compromise.

  • keiranthapa profile image


    11 years ago from Darjeeling

    A hub full of a good practical advice that your readers could find useful.

  • Marisa Wright profile image

    Kate Swanson 

    11 years ago from Sydney

    I think Iðunn speaks for a lot of women! In many cases, we've been brought up to be overly accommodating of our men (or grown up seeing our mothers do it).

    I know I've done that with previous relationships, and I even used to go overboard - I would accommodate my partner even if he didn't ask me to, because that's what I thought I was supposed to do.

    It's been a relief to be with my current partner, who refuses to be mothered or sacrificed for - at least,in most things. However I do struggle because he has some deep-seated phobias which mean I've had to change some aspects of my lifestyle significantly to be with him - and sometimes I do feel resentment over that, even though I know there's not much he can do to control it.

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    From your keyboard to whatever Fates ears. :p Thank you for the well-wishes, I need those (along with practical and excellent advice). :D

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    11 years ago from NY

    Iðunn -

    Excellent spotlight point. You have to be sure accommodation goes both ways. You have set the example. Sometimes it's hard to find people that can truly care about you, if you demonstrate that you don't care about yourself.

    I don't think you're alone, I think alot of people have a hard time finding that delicate balance between asserting themselves and accommodating others.

    Hopefully, you're lucky enough to be in a relationship with someone ready to be a true partner, who has found that balance of self respect while respecting you too.

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    Great Hub. Yes, money can be divisive and good communication is necessary, just as with any other issue.

    I tend to do really well at accomodating others and perhaps historically less so on making sure I take care of myself in my relationships. Both sides are very important.

    Without making sure you treat yourself as an equal too and that your own needs are being met by the relationship, the relationship is as doomed as if you were selfish and not accomodating the other person because of the built up resentments.

    This is truly an equal opportunity aspect. You have to treat both your partner and yourself as you would your own best friend. I'm still working on this one, too.

    Money has not traditionally been a problem for my relationships. I'm poor and any man I like is at best working class too.

    I call that whole section of men "working class heroes" and I have a great love for blue collars across the board. Simultaneously, I have a general dislike for the UMC that precludes me ever liking well-off men as relationship partners, personally. Oh well. :p


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