Every Feb. 14, couples celebrate Valentine’s Day, striving to find just the right setting to create a romantic night on the town. But relationships are about more than candle-light dinners and slow dancing in the moonlight, and making them last beyond the initial infatuation is no easy feat.

“Under the best of circumstances it takes much love, devotion and especially an enduring commitment between partners to make a relationship work,” says academic D. Scott Trettenero, author of Master the Mystery of Human Nature: Resolving the Conflict of Opposing Values (www.masterthemysterybook.com). “Unfortunately, there is no rule book or instruction manual that guarantees success.”

An obvious reason is that conflict is inevitable because men and women look at and approach their problems from different perspectives. “Men tend to use the left brain point of view which is characterized by thinking while women tend to be more right brain and feeling by nature,” Trettenero says. “Men generally use logic and reason to make what they consider objective choices and decisions. Women generally use emotional values to make more subjective choices and decisions.

“It needs to be stated that one way is not better than the other. But they are opposing in nature and when each side is entrenched in their conflicting way there will always be a lack or breakdown of communication. This is the number one reason that couples can have problems in their relationships which can lead to separation. “One side may try to get their point across using facts and deductive reasoning while the other side is wanting their feelings to be acknowledged and understood. It happens all the time in a typical relationship.”

But despite the normal complications, Trettenero says, it is really possible to make things work and thrive. Incredible life changing benefits can come from a healthy relationship and this needs to be kept in mind during times of misunderstandings and conflict. There are a few core concepts about human nature that are necessary to grasp as you try and seek harmony in your relationship. These include:

Feelings come and go.  Feelings can change over time, which means if feelings you have for another led you to fall in love, then other feelings could just as easily lead you to fall out of love if you aren’t careful.  It is important that the relationship not be based on feelings alone, but on a shared commitment to placing the relationship above one’s own personal desires.
People change over the years.  People have the capacity to grow and evolve in a number of ways.  This is a healthy process of life but it doesn’t always work out that each partner is growing at the same pace or in the same direction.  This calls for both to be able to adapt and embrace the changes each may make.
Conflicts will always be present.  The whole system of human interaction is perfectly created for conflict, and any relationship will never be immune to them. Conflicts of interest within a relationship can sometimes escalate into devastating and traumatic experiences.  But it’s possible to rise above or defuse these situations, Trettenero says.  It all begins with understanding yourself so you can be true to who you are.  It also means that you make sure that your significant other be true to themselves.  
With intention and commitment, everything can be overcome.  Conflict resolution in a marriage is one of the most important ways to make it or break it.  The best way to handle a disagreement is to try to find a way that allows both parties to feel good about the results rather than try to overpower the other.  

Discuss each of your points of view and be sure to listen to each other while respecting their opinions. “Trying to give advice on how to make a marriage work is tricky, especially when speaking in general terms, because what might work for one couple might be exactly wrong for another,” Trettenero says.  “One thing is clear to those who are married and want to remain married; communication between partners is critical and deserves equal attention by both.

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