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But in other cases, the early warnings of potential friction were there all along, in the form of personality conflicts or day-to-day incompatibility.

If you are thinking of committing for life — or even just living together — it may be very helpful to contemplate some of the issues that can frequently drive a wedge in long-term relationships.

But you may be surprised how often this becomes an issue anyway, because of one important and often overlooked phenomenon: People change.

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Even the deepest love can't prevent certain conflicts over decades of living together: It's how you anticipate those conflicts and how you're willing to work on them that will determine whether your marriage can go the distance. What differences do I love now but may find grating in five years?

The irony of passionate romantic love is sometimes the qualities that are most different from us are the very things that can draw us most intensely to a partner.

And decades of marriage and life, in general, can bring plenty of pressure.

Even more important is how the two of you handle stress together — do you retreat and isolate, or connect to resolve things as a team? What is my partner's relationship to drugs, alcohol, and gambling?

Often the rosy period of early romance has everyone restraining themselves to be on their best behavior.

This makes the early romance sweeter, of course, but it denies us a glimpse into who they are when they're under pressure.If each of you vaguely imagines having two children, that might sound like you're perfectly compatible on that score.But what if after one child, one of you absolutely wants to stop?Or maybe what seems reasonable for a young, childless couple in terms of partying and drinking no longer seems reasonable with two toddlers underfoot, and yet one partner can't seem to change their lifestyle.Take a hard look at your partner's — and your own — relationship with substances. "We are living like roommates, rather than lovers" is often used as an example of how a relationship has lost its spark, and indeed, it's not a good thing when your partner feels no different than the person you bunked with at summer camp.But eventually, our own habits may remain what we're most comfortable with — and if our partner's style continues to be quite different, what used to be enticing may turn downright annoying. How do we individually and collectively handle stress?

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