I've been hanging out on various message boards/forums and more recently, Facebook, for about a dozen years now, and one thing I notice frequently is people complaining about their partners. Sometimes it's how much they work, sometimes it's how little. Sometimes it's that they leave their socks on the floor, complain about the mess, don't put their dishes away. It seems like it's always something.
The prevailing message I see is, “If he loved me, he'd…” fill in the blank.
But why? Why should someone be expected to take out the trash to show their love for you? How does something so mundane and unromantic come to be a representation of love?
Each person, in a relationship or not, remains their own person – with their own wants, needs, priorities, and issues. While the dirty dishes left on the bench instead of in the sink really bothers you, to them, they didn't even notice.
If it bothers you, fix it. Don't turn a small issue into one that can destroy a relationship. If you can change your perspective, make these minor issues not about whether someone loves you or not, but about what it really is – a different set of priorities. Look at all the things your partner does do for you, and focus on those. Remember the things that made you love them in the first place.
Love isn't about chores, or demonstrations. It's about someone who makes you feel good, who cares about you regardless of your faults. It's about having someone's shoulder to rest your head on. Remember that, and don't let anything get in the way of it.
I try to keep this in mind both in my own relationship (I've been married 11 years and counting), and in the relationships in my stories. Most of the conflict in my romances come from outside sources, and I very rarely use something like a misunderstanding or lack of communication as a major plot device. Characters are willing to talk about their problems, and forgive each other.
How about you? Do you find minor things about your partner frustrate you? Do you think re-framing how you see them could help them bother you less?