THE WAY THEY DRESS: “Which is better, this stylish dress or this bohemian look?” It’s all too common for this simple question to turn into a big argument because you disagree—and then lead to other issues. Avoid it! And shouldn’t you dress how you like, anyhow?
YOUR MOTHERS: Criticizing your partner’s mother can provoke a strong reaction. Are you ready to ruin the evening over a single comment?
COLOR CHOICES: Sometimes we worry over details that really aren’t important. You’re redecorating the living room and you insist on a certain shade of white for the ceiling. Whether it’s cream white, somber white, snow white, egg white, or pale white, it’s still white. Save your energy for things that have an actual impact on your life.
MARRIAGE: Every time you bring up this subject, everything goes south. If he said he doesn’t want to talk about marriage, will constantly bringing it up change his mind?
UNFAIR CRITICISMS: You’re heading into a trap every time you say, “Oh, everyone knows you’re so…” You risk being caught in an unending argument. Instead of always bringing up your partner’s faults, why not try pointing out their strengths?
COMPARISONS: Nobody likes competition. Nobody likes to feel judged or compared. When you’re with your partner, remove everything from your vocabulary that resembles: “You know, my coworker’s boyfriend does…” or “It didn’t bother my ex when I…” Bad idea!
WHO HAS THE WORSE FAMILY: There should be no competition to figure out who has the stranger family or to decide who had a worse childhood, which might explain some quirks. Just accept them and leave the past behind you.
THE SMALL STUFF: The way the napkins are folded or how the carrots are cut for the soup shouldn’t devolve into a huge argument. Even if he always forgets to put the toilet seat down! Honestly, don’t sweat the small stuff—it just adds fuel to the fire of your arguments.
“ANOTHER NIGHT OUT WITH YOUR FRIENDS?”: Instead of seeing it as an insult every time your partner goes out with her or his friends, think of it as an evening just for you. Unless it happens every night, you should probably stop freaking out.
HOW OTHER PEOPLE LOOK: If you’re the jealous type, you should probably avoid discussing how other people look who cross paths with your partner. If you can’t stand the idea that your sweetheart might consider another person attractive, you should probably avoid the subject.
HAIRSTYLES: Do you really want your partner’s advice on a new hair color or how the hairdresser should layer your hair—or do you just want them to say what you want to hear? Careful! It’s a slippery slope that you should avoid. Discuss it with a friend or your stylist instead.
MONEY: Instead of losing your head every time you talk about money, you should find a fair and equitable way to pay for shared expenses. Beyond that, you should each spend your money as you please, without commenting on what the other does.
YOUR EXES: If simply hearing the name of your partner’s ex makes your blood boil, there’s a pretty easy solution: strike it from your vocabulary. Why do that to yourself? Stop talking about it! Of course, this won’t make them disappear, but you don’t have to talk about them all the time.
WHO’S THE BETTER PARENT: Think you’re the best at soothing the baby? Does your partner believe they have something special that makes the little one smile? Great. But don’t try to figure out who’s the better parent—you’re doing it as a team, after all! Competition is unhealthy.
BRINGING UP OLD ARGUMENTS: Enough! Dredging up old arguments is never a good idea—you risk stirring up emotions that have already been calmed. When you make peace, do it for real, and then let it go.
WEIGHT: It’s tough to tell your partner they should shed a few pounds without hurting or offending them. Make sure to avoid talking about this in a vindictive or authoritative way. Try to make them understand you just want them to take better care of themselves.
OTHER PEOPLE’S PROBLEMS: The details of your best friend’s crazy life might not always be of interest to your partner, and it could lead to something being said that sets you off—even though you’re talking about something that has nothing to do with you. Involving yourself too deeply in other people’s lives can backfire.
INCOMPATIBLE FANTASIES: Talking about s*x is normal, but if you fixate on one fantasy in particular that doesn’t interest your partner, you could be setting yourself up for some big arguments.
KEEPING SCORE: If you count everything you do for your partner just so you can rub their nose in it and show them that you’re better, you’re forming a dangerous habit. They’ll immediately go on the defensive and you’ll have to prepare for a big fight.
POLITICS, RELIGION, AND OTHER STICKY SUBJECTS—IN BED!: You should feel like you can talk about these things, just not in bed! The bedroom should be neutral territory, free from misunderstandings and arguments. Discuss these touchy subjects in other places and at other times