Negotiated compromises make for much happier relationships

MERGING your life with your significant other can be a tricky practice - but love doctor Gabrielle Morrissey has some advice to help.

Q. At almost 40, I recently moved in with my boyfriend, which I was so excited about - but we haven't stopped fighting since. We fight over bed space, closet space, who is going to do the dishes (I seem to do them most) and even what we are going to watch on television. Is this just a teething problem and can we overcome it or are we incompatible?

A. Compatibility is based on much larger issues than who has the remote control and who hogs the bed.

You obviously thought you were compatible, or you wouldn't have moved in together.

It's possible that these are teething problems, but it's more likely that they are superficial expressions of deeper problems and fears.

It's normal to experience growing pains in a relationship when you move from dating to de facto, but the fact that you say you two have been constantly fighting since you moved in together indicates that you are both under stress, and taking it out on each other.

If you were both comfortable moving in together, trivial gripes would be negotiated without fights.

It seems clear that there are some underlying tensions fueling these superficial fights.

Clear the air. Sit down together and talk about how unhappy you are fighting all the time, and negotiate some compromises.

It's normal for couples to move in together because they want to move to the next level in their relationship, but often couples don't talk about the realities and specifics of merging their lives.

Remember, you don't ever spend 24/7 with a person for weeks and months on end, until you do it.

Make a date to talk about your relationship goals and expectations.

Talk about chores, bank accounts, bills, lifestyle issues and desires.

Loving each other is one thing, living together is new ballgame.

You can overcome your squabbles if you have a meaningful conversation about how to best love, and live, together and allow each other space and independence under your new shared roof.

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