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“We’ve been together for five years. Now, he wants to buy a house together, and perhaps we’ll consider marriage in another five years. It’s exciting, but I do have a few reservations — the biggest being his few flaws. His wonderful attributes are that he’s dependable, reliable, trustworthy, full of integrity, responsible, and a great friend. But at times he belittles me, insults me, and can be terribly negative. He always apologizes, and I always forgive. Since we’ve lived together for a while, I feel as though I really know him and we’ve adjusted to a pattern of working out issues. Do you think it’s safe to move forward with our plans?

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Tolerance can set you up for an altered lifestyle.

You not only have the makings for a great relationship, you also have the makings for a terrific heartache, as well. Your significant other’s attributes, while honorable, become extremely diluted with his defects. Whereas none of us are perfect, and never will be, I believe there are qualities for which we all should aspire, starting with working out the imperfections that take away from our strong character. What concerns me most for you at this juncture is the seed of doubt you have. There is one; otherwise, you wouldn’t be searching for a “blessing” for your future plans.

When love is in place as it should be, there is little wriggle room for tearing down the people you love. I admire your spirit of forgiveness, but at some point, it will wear thin. If this “pattern” you have developed consistently involves your forgiveness for an untoward action of his, there is reason for you to have pause about a big financial commitment such as a house.

I would encourage you to drag your feet on the commitment to buying a house. Then, put your relationship to the test. Not to be confused with keeping score, I want you to keep a journal for the next several months. Anytime there is an issue of these encumbrances against you personally, assess it from beginning to resolution. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Who started the conflict, and is it a repeat offense? If you seem always to disagree about the same topic, a once-and-for-all compromise needs to be reached with a guarantee not to revisit the issue. If there are random conflicts, this has a more serious nature attached.
2. What are the belittling remarks? If they have merit about a character trait you could work on, I believe there is a better way for him to encourage you to adjust it. If the remarks appear to be him flaunting his insecurities or taking out frustrations, it’s a cause for consideration about a future with him.
3. Are the insults directed at your character, and how does each make you feel? I am of the opinion insults are an unnecessary use of words. It uglies-up the person hurling them. If this is a regular occurrence for him with his friends, family, and/or especially you, it truly is a character flaw worth questioning spending the rest of your life ingesting, because you will.
4. Does his negativity spill over into other times in your relationship than only times of conflict? Take note of his pessimism and disapproval. This attribute could be subtly present when there is no conflict, but when an issue arises, it’s possibly more amplified.
5. Does he love you enough to change? That’s the loaded question and the challenge. Love can be in place, but respect must be as well or else love begins to hurt. A healthy relationship demands both.

You’re well into the season where most married couples find themselves comfortable in their skins and letting down their guards. The wonderful attributes this man possesses will soon fade into your memory if he continues with and/or intensifies his “flaws.” Making a commitment with a house is only halfway tying the knot. Place a ring on each other’s hands and it complicates life even more — legally and emotionally. Figure this one out. Life is too precious to be belittled and insulted by those you love and who are supposed to love you.

Struggling with a relationship issue? Write Joyce Oglesby, Family Life FIX-IT Pro at justaskjoyce@gmail.com and find a solution for life.

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