Living with someone you love can throw up all sorts of differences in how to do things, which in the early stages of a relationship you might have been more tolerant about. Living or spending more time with a partner in every day situations when housework and routine take over can banish some of the affection and even trust. Partners coming home late from work or not doing their share of the chores at home can soon make a partner feel taken for granted or less loved.

Usually one partner is more emotional than the other – but if both partners are cool headed or overemotional, a cycle of constant bickering and rowing can develop.

When situations occur in a relationship which upset one partner, the response can be varied:

  • Start a row
  • Ignore the situation in case it causes trouble
  • Nitpick about other things
  • Complain about your partner to others
  • Be cold towards your partner
  • Withdraw affection
  • Flirt with someone else
  • Start another relationship behind partner’s back
  • Leave.

You can see that the responses are all progressing towards the breakdown of the relationship – and many partners split up and end the relationship or marriage because a small difference was left to fester and the situation escalated.

In divorce cases, a surprising number of couples reach their solicitor’s office and suddenly become aware that what they do not want is to separate or divorce – but differences or disagreements got out of hand.

Living together or in close proximity also can mean getting used to – or tolerating – a partner’s habits and hygiene practices.

Many couples fear discussing situations because it can be painful – a partner who persistently fails to help out with the housework or who cannot seem to be bothered not to squeeze the toothpaste in the middle to please you may appear selfish or deliberately annoying.

However, ending a relationship because a small issue remained unresolved and differences in other areas escalated can be even more painful than working through problems as they occur: you may be free of your partner’s SNORING or bad breath, but your next partner might have hairy toes or shout in their sleep and not be so good at cooking or DIY and the whole cycle of differences of opinion may begin again.

When emotions get out of control over issues which are relatively minor and can be controlled, it is time to take a deep breathe, keep calm – and not carry on.

  • If you have a temper or get emotional, accept that this can sometimes escalate issues beyond what they are worth, so, work out what is important and what is not
  • Try your best to please your partner within reason – don’t squeeze the toothpaste in the middle, flirt with their friends because it’s just your way, or expect them to put the kettle on every time
  • If you feel yourself getting angry, turn away from your partner and say “I’m sorry I’m getting angry.” Take a deep breath and calm down. This will diffuse a volatile situation and it also gives your partner the chance to calm down and meet you halfway
  • Don’t row in front of children and others. Children can bear the emotional brunt of family rows all their lives and your friends and family should not be subjected to your outbursts.

Talk to a trusted friend or relative or your GP if you feel your emotions are getting out of control in a relationship. If you suspect your partner is being unfaithful or you are jealous of a work colleague or the attention they pay a friend, talk to a trusted friend to get their support and then talk to your partner about how much it upsets you.