Dr Pam Spurr
Updated: 15/11/2011 17:14 | By Dr Pam Spurr, contributor, MSN Life & Style

Relationship deal breakers

MSN's relationship expert Dr Pam Spurr helps you handle inevitable hurdles in your relationship.

Couple arguing (© Getty Images)

We take a look at five of the most common deal breakers in a relationship and show you how you might turn them around into deal makers.

The deal breaker 1: Different expectations in the bedroom
The most common culprit is when you have different levels of sex drive. We always assume it's going to be the man who wants more sex but very often the tables are turned. This causes hurt feelings and misunderstandings.

The deal maker
Definitely start positively - think about what 'works' when you have sex. For instance, you might not have a lot of sex because of different sex drives, but when you do you're quite experimental trying different positions.

Begin the conversation with, eg, "We're so hot when it comes to trying new positions but I know it's frustrating we don't want sex at the same time."

Have this conversation when chilled out - not after you've rowed about sex. Set an optimistic mood with an understanding, confident tone of voice. Ask for his suggestions and definitely suggest a compromise between your desires.

Finally, ensure the partner with lower sex drive isn't overworked, has health issues, or is unhappy in the relationship. And that the partner with a higher drive isn't using sex to boost their confidence because they feel insecure.

The deal breaker 2: Baby makes three
One of the biggest decisions you two will ever make is whether to have a baby. It can be devastating when you don't agree.

The deal maker
As soon as a couple feels they're getting serious they should discuss feelings about starting a family. Best to know early where you stand. That said, if down the line you can't agree, first explore why the person that doesn't want a baby feels this way.

Secretly inside do they harbour doubts about whether they'd be a good parent? Or maybe they harbour doubts about your relationship? Time for honesty about such feelings - because once on the table there might be solutions.

Equally, does the baby-loving partner want a baby for the wrong reasons - secretly fearing your relationship's falling apart and a baby might patch things up? Never a good reason to become parents!

Try spending time with friends'/relations' children so you get a feel for the responsibilities parents face.

After thoroughly discussing feelings about parenthood, agree a period of time - maybe six months - in which the 'B' (baby) word isn't mentioned. Revisit after this time of 'no pressure' and you might find changes in your/their feelings.

The deal breaker 3: Money, money, money
Money differences are cited in a third of breakups. You love each other, have fun together, and assume you'll have the same attitudes towards money. Think again!

The deal maker
If you're not living together (and not fully committed) you simply need to decide how you share out spending on dates. You both need to consider the other's earnings to keep things fair.

If living together/committed it's incredibly helpful to look at where your different attitudes come from. Maybe one of you comes from a background where money was tight and you can't bear wastage. Once you understand such things you're less likely to fight and more likely to discuss expenditure.

Think in ink - sit down together and write out your incomings and outgoings. Seeing these in black and white can focus your minds on how much extra you have to play with.

Discuss what 'big ticket' items need saving for and look at what's left over - discuss how best to share out any extra money between you.

The deal breaker 4: Whose house?
When you're not living together rows often revolve around whose flat to stay at. You're both likely to have individual needs that mean staying in your own place makes your life easier. When it comes time to moving in the big issue becomes where to live.

The deal maker
If you're really into each other - but not living together - the key word is "compromise". Either agree a straightforward 'every other night' rule or simplify it and make it an 'every other fortnight' thing - where for a fortnight you always stay at one person's place when you've been out together. Then swap over, staying at the other partner's place for a fortnight.

When it comes to moving in there are many factors. You might have a gut feeling about one neighbourhood over another - but that's not good enough. Spend the time to get to know both of your favourite neighbourhoods. Get practical, eg, time the journeys to each other's workplaces from both neighbourhoods.

Ultimately if you're going to work as a couple you need to be able to work these things out.

The deal breaker 5: The in-laws/the outlaws
It's amazing how the parents you love can so annoy your partner - and vice versa. There can be many reasons why this dynamic is tricky.

The deal maker
Discuss why issues have arisen with either or both sets of your parents. When they visit do they impose their opinions and give unwanted advice? You both need to stand up to your own parents and ask them not to butt in. This can be done firmly but tactfully.

Or do you have a problem 'sharing' your partner with their parents? Maybe you need to consider being a little more generous about spending time all together. Or sometimes you two see your individual parents on your own.

Finally, beware of criticising your partner's parents. Even if their parents can be a pain they may not want to hear it put that way!

For more advice visit www.drpam.co.uk

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