How well do you know your partner?

WE’VE all heard the saying that opposites attract but, according to relationship experts, there are some fundamental topics which couples should agree on.

How well do you know your partner?

So it doesn’t matter if he drinks lager and you will only touch chardonnay, as long as you are both thinking along the same wavelengths, most issues can be overcome.

Counsellor Pat Grange of Relationships Ireland says couples can adjust to change and different opinions, but both parties should be on the same page when thinking about the future.

“Sometimes couples can argue about small issues but it is important that they agree or disagree in an honest and respectful way,” he says.

“If the core of the relationship is not strong, you will often find couples fighting over every issue, let alone major ones. This is a manifestation of a relationship in difficulty. What is most important is that both are open to the other’s point of view and can arrive at a decision that is best for the relationship, not just one or the other person getting their own way.”

Sex therapist Eithne Bacuzzi says sex is a fundamental and essential element of most relationships and couples should be able to communicate with each other intimately.

“Sexual communication and understanding of each individual’s sexual expectations and needs should be a priority,” she says.

“Sexual relationships need care, understanding and knowledge, as well as an erotic and passionate content. Couples need to agree that sex should to be an equal and mutually agreed part of the relationship and that it is OK to say no.

Flirtation, humour and playfulness, as well as fun and laughter can all contribute to a very happy and healthy sexual relationship.”

Solicitor Anne O’Neill specialist in family law says: “Small differences don’t really matter especially if couples share the same sense of humour and general perspective on life.

“After the first flush of romance has gone and if a couple have interests in common, their relationship will deepen over time.

“A good physical relationship is also vital because if this side of the relationship is dead. There is nothing to come hold the couple together when the big problems arise.”

Annmarie and Paul

Annmarie Murtagh (35) has been with her husband, Paul Flood (40), for 15 years.

They have four children, aged between 13 and six. The couple run a motor repair workshop in Deansgrange, in Dublin.

They say they know each other very well.

How does your partner deal with stress?

AM: Paul is highly charged and doesn’t deal very well with stress. He bottles things up, but I can tell there is something wrong with him and I will keep prodding him until he lets it out.

P: Annemarie will growl at people first and then talk about whatever is worrying her. Sometimes, she goes quiet when she is stressed and sometimes she lets it all out — a bit like me, really.

What is your partner’s attitude to money?

AM: I’m definitely the spender in our house, and if I don’t have any money of my own I’ll go looking for some from Paul. He’s always worrying about saving for a rainy day.

P: We all know who the spender is in our house. I’m definitely the hoarder, and nearly keep it hidden under the floorboards. Annmarie will go out shopping for two things and come home with 20.

Can your partner have fun without the aid of alcohol?

AM: We both can have great fun without needing alcohol. I’m like the Duracell bunny most days, and every Sunday we go out with the kids for a hike and we all have a great time.

P: Neither of us needs it to have a good time.

How important is the physical side of the relationship?

AM: After 15 years of marriage, the physical side of our relationship is as magnetic as 50 Shades of Grey — I’m just as mad about him as I was right at the beginning.

P: It’s very important — if you don’t have it, there isn’t much point in being together, really.

What is your partner’s view on pornography?

AM: I read 50 Shades of Grey in four days — Paul is a bit more taboo about it, but I find it all a bit of a laugh.

P: I’m not one for looking at porn — I might have been as a young lad, but not nowadays. But Annmarie has just read one of those 50 Shades books, and really enjoyed it.

Do you have the same sense of humour?

AM: At the beginning of our relationship, our sense of humour was different, but after all the years of living and working together, I would say we both get the same jokes.

P: We both love a bit of fun and definitely have the same sense of humour — there might be days when I get up grumpy, but most of the time we’re both up for a laugh.

Do you share interests with your partner?

AM: Paul is into motorbikes and I’m a bit of a radio anorak and love the girly side of having fake tan and nails done, so, no, I wouldn’t say we have the same interests.

P: We are both very busy, so don’t have a lot of time ... but we both enjoy doing things with the kids and spending time together as a family.

Deborah and John

Deborah Donnelly (35) is an artist and author of children’s books. She has been with her husband, John Sheridan (36), for eight years. He runs a meat company and they live in Dun Laoghaire with their three children.

How does your partner deal with stress?

D: John would talk about a problem or go for a run — depending on how he feels at the time. I tend to paint when I feel stressed and work it out of my system that way.

J: I try to look at stress as something that can’t be avoided — so I will face up to it. Deborah tries to keep it in, which ultimately makes it worse, in the end.

What is your partner’s attitude to money?

D: John would be the saver, and I’m definitely the spender and shopper in the house.

J: Deborah is definitely not a spender. She is so thrifty and looks at money as something we need to get by in life.

Can your partner have fun without out the aid of alcohol?

D: Neither of us needs a drink to have a good time. The other night, we downloaded a load of old ’90s music and had a great evening dancing around the kitchen — no alcohol was involved.

J: We both drink very little, as we are so busy all the time.

How important is the physical side?

D: It is very important to both of us. We are both very touchy-feely and wouldn’t go a week without being intimate.

J: The physical side of the relationship is really important.

And being intimate is not just confined to the bedroom — the hugs at the sink, and the looks during the day, are all a form of foreplay that we engage in.

What is your partner’s view on pornography

D: John would probably say that he doesn’t have time to have a view on it. I would say everything in moderation.

J: I think Deborah would probably think the same as me — that if it there is a balance then it’s fine — neither of us is horrified by it, but we aren’t hugely interested in it either.

Do you have the same sense of humour?

D: We both laugh at the same things and get each other’s jokes. As the saying goes, there is a lid for every pot and I think we fit perfectly together.

J: We do laugh at similar things, but I am a bit more old school and like a good, dirty joke.

Deborah is very quick-witted and brilliant with one-liners.

What are your interests and does your partner share the same?

D: John is into yoga, sport, and playing the guitar, and I love art, but we both love surfing, being by the sea and hanging out with our friends.

J: I don’t have a whole lot of time for hobbies, but I practice yoga and I used to play the guitar a bit.

We both like to exercise and keep fit.

Orla and Paul

Orla O’Rourke (35) and her husband Paul (39) have been together for 14 years.

She works as a restaurant manager in Dolce Vita, in Sandyford, Dublin, and he runs his own printing and online greeting-card business. They have four children, aged between two and 12.

How does your partner deal with stress?

O: Very calmly. He’s the complete opposite to me. He talks it through, while I shout and scream.

P: Occasionally, Orla drinks wine when she is stressed.

What is your partner’s attitude to money?

O: Paul is a saver, but he’s quite relaxed about money — I am always worrying about it.

P: I’m the saver and Orla’s definitely the spender.

Can your partner have fun without the aid of alcohol?

O: Now and again — it depends on his mood.

P: Yes, she can, but much more after a glass of wine.

How important is the physical side of the relationship?

O: It is very important, particularly since 50 Shades of Gray came out.

P: Massive — it’s really important to both of us.

What is your partner’s view on pornography?

O: He’s not mad into it, but I’d say the thought is there alright — he might have been more so a few years ago, but now that we have the kids, he can take it or leave it.

P: She would say, ‘Get it where you can’.

Do you have the same sense of humour?

O: Yes, I would say we both get the same jokes most of the time.

P: Yes — it is pretty similar.

What are your interests and does your partner share the same?

O: Paul wants to be living in Australia and I would like to go to college to further my career. Apart from that, he’s into football and I’m more into reading and Pilates.

P: I’m into Liverpool FC and my long-term goal would be to get rich, while Orla’s would be to spend the money.

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