Is there an issue about which you and your partner can't seem to see eye-to-eye?

Perhaps you two try to avoid talking about or even looking at the tough topic because, in the past, it has only seemed to cause tension and arguments. The trouble is, these sensitive and challenging issues aren't always ones that either of you can easily avoid.

When you try to pretend, for example, that your partner's flirting isn't bothering you, his or her flirting only seems to be more frequent and blatant from your perspective.

When you attempt to avoid talking about your different approaches to money, the financial choices that your mate makes can appear to be more misguided than ever before.

It's the proverbial elephant in the room.

Whether it's jealousy, flirting, money matters, sex or anything else, whatever the tough topic is that you and your partner have is probably coming between you two...if you aren't talking about it in ways that bring you closer to a resolution you both can be happy with.

With some issues, it is simply not enough to “agree to disagree.” When the disagreement erodes trust, builds up resentment or is unavoidable, the best way to handle it is to create a relationship agreement.

What an agreement does is to ensure that you and your mate know exactly what is okay and what is not okay with one another when it comes to this tough topic. When there's an agreement in place, it allows you both to respond to these difficult issues in ways that don't create conflict in your relationship.

In short, an agreement can help you more easily navigate those sensitive issues in ways that take you closer to one another and to a resolution.

The trick with creating agreements is to be sure that you and your partner both feel heard and that both of you are agreeing to the same thing. If one (or both) of you says “yes” to an agreement that is unclear or feels like an ultimatum, this will only potentially cause more conflict and distance.

Try these communication tips to help you create agreements...

#1: Be clear about what's most important and about what you're agreeing to.
If you and your partner often argue about his or her jealousy, for example, it might be a great idea to create some agreements that will help prevent jealousy from coming between you two.

You cannot “solve” your mate's jealousy problem, but you can be clear within yourself and with your partner about what is okay and what is not okay.

Ask yourself what about your partner's jealousy is most upsetting to you. Is it his or her accusing or interrogating questions when you've been apart? If so, with gentleness and love, propose some communication “rules” that you both will follow.

Perhaps if you feel as if you are being wrongly accused or interrogated, you could agree to ask for a “time out” until you both feel less triggered. Your partner can ask for a “time out” when he or she notices jealousy arising during a conversation.

During this “time out,” you both will go within and figure out why you are feeling triggered-- the jealousy or the feeling wrongly accused. Then, from a calmer place, you can return to your conversation with a more conscious response.

If your mate says “yes” to following such an agreement (or any agreement), it's helpful for you both to re-state that agreement to one another so that you both know you are agreeing to the same thing.

#2: Be an engaged listener-- there are very few truly “bad” ideas.”
When you propose an agreement to your partner, he or she may have a different idea. This might be a slight variation of your suggestion or it could be a very different agreement all together.

Be an engaged listener and don't tune out or discount what your mate has to say just because it's not exactly what you had in mind. Resist the urge to tell yourself a story about why your partner is suggesting some change to what you had in mind.

There are very ideas that are flat-out “bad.”

When you're on the lookout for the places where your different ideas for an agreement overlap, it's much easier to create a shared agreement that you both can feel good about that will move you closer together too.

#3: Be open and stay open.
As you create an agreement with your partner, be open and stay open. Set aside your expectations and preconceived notions that your partner will not agree to what you have in mind, that he or she will not keep to your agreement or whatever they might be.

Instead, be present with what you two are talking about in this moment.

Don't hold past experiences against your mate and, instead, consciously respond to whatever is being said (or done) right here and now. Keep your vision for a connected, close and harmonious future together at the forefront of your mind.

Author's Bio: 

For more communication tips to help you connect, click here for Susie and Otto Collins' free e-mail mini-course: "10 Communication Secrets for Creating a Lifetime of Love."

Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the passionate relationships they desire. They have written these e-books and programs: Magic Relationship Words, Relationship Trust Turnaround, No More Jealousy and Stop Talking on Eggshells among many others.