More couples are opting to cohabitate without making their relationship official. Better birth control is preventing unwanted pregnancies and resulting in fewer marriages, so if and when couples split it doesn’t show in statistics.
“Marriages and other long-term relationships can be difficult for many of us, despite mutual love and affection,” says D. Scott Trettenero, author of “Master the Mystery of Human Nature: Resolving the Conflict of Opposing Values” (www.masterthemysterybook.com).
“There will surely be conflict with our differences in temperament, values, goals and much more. It’s no secret that life-long marriages aren’t guaranteed.”
Trettenero lays out the nature of marital relationships, and how couples may be happier together.
- Understand how you are different from each other. The honeymoon phase of a romantic relationship can blind couples to the differences that may later be problematic in a marriage. As time lapsed in his marriage, Trettenero realized the extent to which he and his wife dealt with conflict differently. She processed much of her experience through her feelings, whereas he filtered life through logic and reason. Communication was difficult. But simply diagnosing this difference began to tremendously improve their marriage.
- Compromise is essential. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony.” The opposite is equally true: “Life at its worst is the destructive division of opposites fighting for their points of view.” Whether considering conflict within a marriage or diplomacy among two countries, the ability to compromise is essential. Otherwise, your marriage and the world may face its demise sooner than later.
- Learn to appreciate how your partner's temperament complements yours. We are all born with our individual set of strengths and weaknesses. When we accept our partner’s point of view that differs from ours, it can expand our own understanding and lead to personal growth. We have an opportunity to develop new skills in life when we can place another's concerns above our own.
- Competition is not always bad – but it's not good for a relationship. Competition and conflict are not just a reality of our world; they are often a good thing. But competition for control and supremacy over your spouse in order to get your way is a recipe for disaster. A healthy relationship occurs only when both feel fulfilled in their wants and needs. In marriage, you must be committed to respecting and listening to your partner, and then accepting their differences as a challenge to your understanding, rather than another reason to fight over who is right and wrong.