Okay, so you've been dating someone for a few years and both of you are thinking about walking down the aisle.

To learn a little more about marriage and being a good spouse, you buy several books, read every article on the subject and talk to folks who have been married for a long time.

Soon after, you feel you know enough about marriage to take the final step and you're sure you'll be able to avoid the big problems that may arise.

But what about the little problems that may come up? Are you equally prepared? Because little problems can turn into big problems further down the road.

So before you get married it's important to have a lot of discussions with your spouse-to-be about the little things that annoy you. That's according to Susan Ziggy, author of the book "What To Do Before You Say 'I Do.'" She says couples need to talk about all of the flaws in the relationship.

"Relationships are as flawed as the people who are in them," she said in an interview with ConsumerAffairs. "There are several things that need to be in place for a good relationship. And everyone has flaws or as I call them 'buttons.' There must be mutual respect, trust, honesty, good communication skills and reciprocity."

"The should haves would be: A good sense of humor, an ability to admit when you are wrong and apologize, healthy ego and self-esteem. Good listening skills are a bonus," says Ziggy.

Smaller issues


Many experts say problems in the area of finances, communication and sex cause a lot of couples to break up, but Ziggy says it's the smaller issues too.

Carrying resentment is a big issue, she says and many times that resentment comes from simple things like cleaning up the house.

"Not picking up after yourself is another expected silly argument," explains Ziggy. "Usually the woman does the picking up and it is annoying."

"Is it worth ruining your evening? If you say, 'please pick up your socks because I don't want one to be missing in the laundry,' they may do it. If they don't then just pick it up or leave it there and see if they will pick it up later."

Elly Prior, relationship expert and founder of the site Professional-Counseling.com, said if you have your partner's best interests in mind, it'll make arguments easier to get through.

"If you love each other, you'll want the best for your partner or so I hope," she writes. "That means neither letting your partner always have it their way nor manipulating conversations to always have it your way. Both of these extremes are unhelpful and will only cause more problems."

"Remember, you can't change your partner, you can only change yourself."

Ziggy says the tiniest of issues can get under a person's skin to the point where he or she will lash out in in the future. Things like replacing the toilet paper, putting the toilet seat down and deciding what to watch on TV can often lead to nasty arguments.

Driving styles

Arguing about each other's driving style is a common problem too.

"This is a big one, especially for women," says Ziggy. "If you don't like the way your partner drives, get over it! Remember it's the journey that's important, not how slow or fast they drive, unless they have been drinking."

Having differing work ethics is another reason why many couples argue, said Ziggy and each person's work style should be accepted by the other and not criticized.

For example, if your partner is a person who always has to be on his or her laptop doing things for work and you would rather sit in front of the TV without working, you shouldn't argue about it. Nagging someone about those kinds of things doesn't help, says Ziggy.

"Different work ethics might be another sore issue that can lead to resentment," she states. "If one is a type 'A' personality and the other is a type 'B' personality you need to realize that. If you have to be busy all the time, that is your prerogative, don't make it your partners."

"Here is where acceptance is critical," she adds. "Accept that one likes to be crazy busy and the other has different qualities that make you, together a great couple."

How men think

Remembering that men and women think and respond differently is key, says Ziggy. Once you forget this reality, you're asking for big trouble.

"Women need to understand how men think," she advises.

"They seem to assume that men are sensitive and emotional just like they are. Men are genetically geared to think in black and white. Emotion does not play a large role in some men's psyche. They are problem solvers and providers genetically and that is almost impossible to change."

And men should understand they don't have to fix everything, says Ziggy. Which means some guys may have to work on listening without interjecting. 

"Women are genetically geared to be emotional and nurturing. They think in gray. Women want to talk about everything, where men are geared to keep their emotions suppressed."

"If your lady wants to talk then ask her to give you a few minutes to rest and then let her talk. Most of the time women just want to vent about their day. They don't need their man to fix anything, just vent."

"Men don't want to see their partner upset so they try and offer suggestions on how to solve the problem. They should learn not to do that. The woman needs to start her conversations with 'I just want to vent' so the man knows to just listen and not comment," says Ziggy.

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