THE ONE THING WE ALL HAVE IN COMMON IS A PARTNER (well, all of us except my mate Alf, and if you met him youd understand why), and we all know that partners and diving sometimes just dont seem to mix.
To help you through those difficult times, here are my Top Ten Tips for combining fulfilment in diving with keeping your partner happy. Treat these tips as a sort of step-ladder of stages, and work your way up it as and when you need to.

STEP 1: TRY TO GET THEM INVOLVED
Take partners to the club for a try-dive, for example. The downside here is that they get to meet your dive-buddies, and experience what passes for humour among divers. The only places in the world where highest up the wall earns you respect are a primary-school playground and out on the club RIB in the North Sea.
Mind you, my old club gave this particular game up when the number of lady members suddenly increased. It wasnt that the lads were embarrassed or felt it was an unsuitable pastime, it was the humiliation of being beaten by the girls.
If partners find that they dont like diving, they can still be involved in so many other ways. Clubs always need volunteers to stand in supermarkets and sell raffle tickets, make the food for social events, hold spanners while the Equipment Officer rebuilds the compressor and type up the minutes of the monthly committee meeting.
Of course, you wont expect your partner to do all these jobs - at least, not at the same time - but you get to go diving more often, the club gets better-maintained kit and your partner gains a new interest. Classic win-win scenario.
Mind you, it isnt always roses if they do take to diving. Youll need to buy an extra set of kit, so you wont be able to upgrade your reg to the new Mark 9 Titanium, and youll have to take turns minding the kids on diving weekends, so reducing the amount of diving you can do.

STEP 2: BE REASONABLE
Try explaining to your partner why you love diving so much. Talk about the dive sites you love and things you can see under water. Dont use an inland dive site as an example, obviously, and if you are an underwater photographer do not show them pictures to illustrate your passion. Four hours of this would be a great shot of the very rare mimic seaweed blenny if only Id had the macro lens and my flashguns had worked wont help.
Once your partner understands your passion, you can say that you dont feel that getting up early on a Saturday to go diving every so often is too much to ask. When youve won agreement to this, you can dive with a clear conscience.
Then all you have to do is work on turning every so often into whenever I feel like it.

STEP 3: SENIORITY
The Royal Navy has long operated a simple system to determine who gives the orders if two officers of equal rank are present. The officers compare the dates they achieved their rank. Whoever got there first is the senior and gives the orders.
The partner parallel is obvious. Simply explain that you have been diving longer than you have been in your relationship, so it has priority.
Its important to remember not to use the term current relationship unless you want to take this to a higher level, usually known as an argument, and sometimes as a flaming row (see Steps 5 and 6).
A more insidious problem is posed by partners who refuse to accept their place in the pecking order and ask which is more important, them or diving. We all know the answer to this one, but it isnt going to do you much good saying so.
Falling back to Step 2 (be reasonable) is a good ploy here, with tears if you can manage them. This is especially effective for blokes who can cry (See also Step 8).

STEP 4: STATEMENT OF FACT
Were getting into the higher-risk strategies, but this one can pay handsome dividends in the long term, especially if used at the start of a relationship.
Start with Im going diving this weekend, assess the reaction, then move quickly on to I go diving most weekends and, finally, I go diving a lot. This last statement has the extra benefit of not being specific, so is less open to challenges such as: You never said you went diving on Thursdays!, while at the same time opening the door to a lot of diving.
If your partner accepts this, and some will, you have a clear mandate to go diving whenever and wherever you want.
You may as well go for broke and explain about the annual two-week club diving expeditions that you always go on. If your club doesnt have them, you can start organising them straight away.

STEP 5: THE ARGUMENT
Sooner or later, youll find yourself here. Your partner will point out that this weekend you need to get involved with decorating/Xmas/looking after the kids/visiting the relations.
Your response, which can be summed up with complete lack of ambiguity in the word no, will pitch you headlong into the argument.
Dont lose sight of your personal goal - going diving. Dont get sidetracked into a rehash of the last time you visited the in-laws and trod mud onto the new rug, or youll find yourself being verbally beaten up about things you barely remember and certainly dont care about.
Be sympathetic. Acknowledge that the kids are important to you as well, and that youll take them with you when theyre old enough, but for now your partner has the wonderful experience of being with them while theyre little.
They grow up so fast, and these formative years are so important that youre doing them a favour by leaving them with the kids while you go diving.

STEP 6: THE FLAMING ROW
This is the logical extension of the argument, but its a last resort. If your partner refuses to accept that diving is more important than decorating, explain that if they were not such useless, unadventurous, timid lumps they could come diving with you.
This tactic wont help you gain agreement to going diving, but at least it will pass some time before your next diving trip and, with luck, mean your partner wont be speaking to you in the interim.

STEP 7: THE ULTIMATUM
The final step of the reasonable/argument/flaming row progression, this is a last-ditch tactic. The important thing is the timing. If you dont go for it your partner will, and whoever gets in first has the upper hand.
Try: If you dont let me go diving Im leaving you and gauge the reaction. Your partner may capitulate, or you may come home to find your spare drysuit staked out on the front lawn like a cavalryman on an anthill in a John Ford western, or for sale on eBay.
This is worse because it shows that your partner is thinking, not just reacting, so watch out for future unpleasantnesses.
At least youll know where you stand. Bear in mind that if youre married a divorce is the single most expensive gift you can ever give your partner, and ask yourself if you really want to be so generous to them when they wont let you go diving

STEP 8: LIE
If none of the above would help, just lie. Say youre doing something like going for a newspaper. It may take you a while to explain why youre taking your diving gear with you, or why buying a paper took a full week, during which time you acquired a healthy tan and an Egyptian visa in your passport, but at least you wont be arguing about going diving.
In extreme cases, say youve joined up and theyre sending you to Iraq for three years. This will both allow you plenty of time for diving and explain the suntan, and it works.
At least, it worked for my Grandad, who was having his hair cut when Chamberlain made his
war with Germany speech in 1939 and didnt see Grandma again until he was demobbed in 1946.
A more sophisticated version of this technique involves telling your partner that youre doing something else, playing golf for example, and then arranging for them to find out that youve lied.
Theyll assume its because youre having an affair, and when they find out all you do is go diving, theyll be so relieved they wont mind.

STEP 9: MAKE IT UP TO THEM
This one is useful on an ongoing basis, but it has to fit somewhere. When you get back from dive trips bring champagne, flowers or chocolates in any combination, put on smoochy music and romance your partner in front of the fire.
Remove your undersuit first, especially if its an open fire and the suit is nylon, and preferably have a shower to get the seaweed smell out of your hair.
To be honest, however, after a weekend at 40m in nil vis, with a three-knot current because the skipper got slack wrong and a four-hour drive back from the coast, are you really going to feel like it, especially as you have your kit to wash down Thought not.

STEP 10: GET RID OF YOUR PARTNER
No, not murder, you cant go diving in prison, though Ive been to quarries that would suggest this isnt true. You want your partner to believe that he or she is getting rid of you. It costs you less, and they get the guilt - another classic win-win.
And once your current partner has gone, you find someone more understanding and accommodating to your diving needs. Go for a regulator technician, but at the very least for somebody who can make a decent bacon butty.