How many couples do you know who criticize each other?  Try to control the other?  Try to change the other?  Nearly everyone behaves like this at times.
but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Imagine making no demands on the other.  That means none.  At all.  Ever.
That might seem an impossible, unrealistic goal.  suppose they do something you don’t like?  Well, you can attempt to change their behavior.  Right here, we have conflict, and the end result isn’t good — either you get your way, but they feel criticized, attacked, controlled, or you lose and feel frustrated and defeated, while they await the next attack.
I’m not suggesting that the only alternative is nothing.  You can state how you feel or what you want without making it a demand, explicit or implicit, on the other “I’m feeling cold” is different from “Close that window”.  The former is a revealing of your self, an opening up; the latter is an attempt to bend others to your will.
Now turn this around and imagine your partner makes no demands on you.  Ever.  You can go to the pub without snide comments.  You can leave the washing-up until the morning.  You can pass on visiting the in-laws.  Imagine, once you get used to it, how liberating it could be.  I liken the normal state of affairs to dancing barefoot in a room with thumb-tacks on the floor.  Even though there be ever so few, you cannot dance freely, but once you learn and come to trust there are no tacks, you can soar as never before.
This mutuality of permission is, of course, the Golden rule, do as you would be done by.  You might hesitate to embark on this, thinking it unrealistic, that there are always times when your partner needs to be restrained or directed.  Stop!  Either they are truly behaving in a way that you can never accept — lying, being financially irresponsible, cheating — or you are interfering with another when they are merely being themselves, and not doing anything unacceptable.  One way is to savor the differences, and celebrate the variety brought into your life.  The other is to try and change your partner to fit what you imagine they should be.

We’ve been talking this Valentine’s weekend about our core values.

We’ve identified two core values that almost everything else seems to grow from.  The first is the sacrosanct nature of the other person.  Other words we’ve come up with are autonomy, acceptance, non-interference, sovereign and inviolate.  Much of what we have identified as components of our relationship comes from this core value.

The second core value is being present, which encompasses being available, communicating, and not withholding.  It includes being truthful, and presents the opportunity for somethinhg new to come into existence.