Pucker up for New Year's Eve -- relationship savers

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by Julie Snyder

Relationship saversAll relationships have days when you're ready to pucker up and kiss one another, followed by days you'd rather smooch with a rat.

Arguments and disagreements usually focus around the same basic issues. Whether it's those pesky in-laws or intolerable neatness issues like making sure the toilet seat is down, living with someone day-in and day-out can have its moments.

As we're heading into 2014, we've chosen 14 issues that affect most couples. Do you recognize or relate to any of these "roadblocks" that get in the way of "togetherness"? How do you think you can work with your other have to resolve issues and live a positive lifestyle?

14 relationship roadblocks

1. Communication mishaps or misinterpretations
2. Trust issues
3. Finances and money troubles
4. Sex
5. The in-laws
6. Bad habits
7. Family planning
8. Child-rearing
9. Division of labor in the household
10. Ghosts of relationships past
11. Stuck in a rut or bored with routine
12. Religion
13. Politics
14. Media influence

The big three relationship savers

We took an unofficial poll and found our members' top three concerns. We paired each issue with tips that could be relationship savers.

Communication -- talking it out

"We don't like to fight so instead of hashing a problem out, it doesn't even get talked about."

"We argue most about not wanting to argue. Every discussion turns into one"

"We start out discussing, but things get out of hand. He yells. I glare. We both name call and fume."

These steps can help you working things out without breaking your relationship.

✓ Set rules. Agree ahead of time to table it if your talk turns into an angry argument.
✓ Share your needs. State what will resolve the issue for you.
✓ Accept responsibility for your part in the problem.
✓ Look for a compromise that meets both your needs.
✓ Be compassionate. You're both hurting.
✓ Ask for help if you need it.

Sex -- behind bedroom doors

"My biggest dilemma is that the spark faded long ago and I see my husband as just a friend and no longer as a lover."

"After a day of being pulled on, fussed at, wiped on and stressed out, intimacy is the furthest thing from my mind."

Life today speeds forward at an ever more hectic pace. Many of us fall exhausted into bed. Romance and intimacy, not to mention great sex, sink to low priority. Rejuvenate intimacy with these romance-enhancing ideas:

• Enjoy an evening "in." Movies, games or just cuddles.
• Change up the location. When was the last time you were together in the kitchen, living room, shower or outdoors?
• Give your partner an unexpected gift -- a washed car or a clean kitchen. Your thoughtfulness may kindle sparks.
• The best gift of all is you. Get a babysitter and enjoy that precious quality time together.

Finances -- dollars and cents

"I can't believe how irresponsible he is with money!"

"She wants to hang on to every penny. We'll be old and creaky before she thinks it's enough."

Were you surprised by your partner's spending habits and money attitude? That's not surprising. When it comes to money, men and women behave differently.

Men tend to take more risks and don't save for emergencies. Women tend to see money as a security issue so they prefer a rainy-day fund. To resolve finances, work as a team and adjust to each other's spending and saving style.

• Schedule a monthly check-in to make sure you're on the same page.
• Learn how you can live on one income. If you lose your job, take a cut in pay or decide to stay home with a baby, you'll be prepared.
• Budget for child expenses. From housing and food costs to college funds, kids can cost a bit.
• Talk about and plan for future expenditures.

Relationships take a lot of work every day to flourish, some days more than others. It's worth it though. Do you have an area that challenges you? Share in the comments!

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.