There are different kinds of intelligence. You and your partner may have been good at schoolwork; you may even have an advanced degree or two. That doesn\’t mean your intelligence extends to relationships—emotional intelligence. Often being smart in relationships depends on the home you grew up in and how your parents handled their relationship. It\’s not always a blueprint for success in your relationship.

So take some time to think about the dynamics in your household growing up and your household that you\’ve established with your partner. Do you see destructive patterns repeating themselves? Now is the time to break these patterns. Some red flags to look for:

Not talking about money. Money is the number one thing most couples fight about. Yet it is often taboo to discuss money matters openly and honestly, possibly because it just wasn\’t done in your family. But to be successful as a couple you have to have transparency. You must know your debt and your partner\’s debt. You must know what money is coming in and what\’s going out. You must have a solid and reasonable budget with which you both agree. You should have financial goals and a way to measure your progress toward those goals. You just have to talk about it.

Fighting over household chores. Or not fighting, but feeling resentful. The fact is, it is almost impossible to divide chores 50/50, even though the motivation to be fair is a good thing. But trying to split chores evenly fosters keeping score, and that is decidedly a bad thing. It promotes nit picking that is sure to be detrimental to your marriage. You and your partner should be responsible for what you\’re best at, relative to other chores. And try to aim for fairness over the long term. For example, your partner may love to dig in the dirt, but can only do gardening when weather permits, while you have consented to do the laundry, which must be done every week without fail. Some weeks you\’ll do more, and some weeks your partner will. Don\’t forget to help out with your partner\’s chores if he gets overwhelmed, and to ask for help if you get overwhelmed.

Never going to bed angry. Yes, you were given that supposedly sage advice, but the fact is, you could stay up all night, getting more and more entrenched in the rightness of your position. Maybe it really is better to go bed and sleep on it. Things look brighter in the morning, and you can be more open with you partner when you\’ve had a chance to calm down. Find out what\’s really on his mind with objectivity and without an angry tone. Sometimes we assume we know what our partner\’s feeling, without really finding out. Likewise it\’s important to make your feelings known. Exchanging information that each partner needs will keep your marriage functioning well.

Forgetting that relationships are cyclical. You get busy. You let things slide. You take your spouse for granted. That\’s because you\’re human. Sometimes it takes a little rough patch to make you both sit down and address how you can make things better. Maybe all your partner needs is a small gesture from you—an afternoon off while you babysit the kids. Maybe all you need is an occasional cleaning service to lighten your chores. Because what you need most is to remember why you got together in the first place, and make the time and take the effort to enjoy each other\’s company.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here: