Today, tips on how to create the perfect romantic partnership. Or, Personal Relationships and Standards of Behaviour: Is it possible to have both?


Recently, my partner, Liz, and I decided to have some work done to our basement wall. Before making this decision, we had this conversation:


Liz: We need to have the wall fixed.


Me: The wall is fine.


Liz: It’s not fine. It’s leaking.

Me: Think of it as a “water feature.”

Liz: There’s fungus growing. (This was actually true)

Me: Organic mushrooms. We’ll start a home business.

Liz: Look, either we get it fixed now, or we look forward to putting “indoor pool” on the listing when we sell this place.

Me: (Prepared to tackle the problem immediately... or at least three weeks later when the first thaw set in.) OK.

When it comes to the concrete (this is a pun, of course) issues of life, Liz and I have very different ideas of what is acceptable. Liz sets the bar high. Me ... not so much. I would say that not only is my bar not set high, it’s “buried under unused tether ball nets at the back of the equipment closet, the key to which has gone missing.”

The fact is, Liz and I are a perfect example of the old adage, “Opposites attract... right up to the point that you try to choose paint colours for the living room.”

So, what’s the best way to deal with differences in standards?

One method is the “My partner has to change —now” approach. There is a term for people who favour this method. “Divorced.”

Method No. 2 is to follow this easy-to-use system.

1. Identify where your personal bar is set. My friend Marlene, for example, has what she calls a “standards scale.”

Marlene: I expect an 80 per cent standard of performance from my staff, 70 per cent from my husband, 95 per cent from my car and so on.

Me: You expect more from your car than your spouse?

Marlene: Well, I drive a BMW.

2. Identify where your partner’s bar is set.

Generally, this will be “As far away from mine as possible and how can anyone live that way, anyway?”

3. Accept that you’re stuck with this.

Because, in the end, what I’ve learned from being with Liz is this: Great relationships are like a dry basement. They just don’t happen without a little work.