The Valentine's Day roses have wilted, the chocolates are gone, now it's time to return to the real world. So, let's talk about what elements you need to make your relationship successful year after year.

There are many factors, but I will touch on just a few. The first one is trust. Without trust it is extremely difficult to get close, because you'll likely be asking, "Is he telling me the truth?"

Having positive regard for each other is of the utmost importance. When you treat your partner the way you want to be treated you are more likely to get love in return. And a side note here, men need respect and women need love. So, women if you show your partner that you respect him, he will have an incentive to show you love.

Another quality is self-worth. If you feel good about yourself, you will set clear boundaries and be less likely to personalize everything that your partner says.

Being vulnerable draws couples close. No one wants to be with someone who acts perfect (by the way, there is no person alive today that is). When you are open, you encourage your partner to take risks and be open in return.

Communication is vital. I teach my clients that communication is typically displayed in one of three modes: The parent, the child and the adult. Communicating in your "parent" will be perceived as bossy, judgmental and critical. Your "child" is defending your position. And your "adult" is logical, stating only the facts. You calmly state how you feel, keeping it short and simple, then you shut up. Don't turn a disagreement into an argument.

Be aware that a healthy relationship will have conflict. Don't expect to always mirror each other (how boring). And when you disagree, respect your partner's differing point of view.

Be independent and interdependent. Independence is having other friends and being involved in separate activities. This makes you feel more confident, plus, it gives the two of you more to talk about.

Interdependence keeps you focused on your relationship, making your relationship a priority. Spend time together. Have date nights. Enjoy each others company by sharing hopes and dreams. And remember to focus on your partner's strengths. Catching him doing something right will draw him close. Criticizing him will push him away. Seal a pact with your partner by making every day Valentine's Day.

Kristina Welker is a doctor of psychology, licensed therapist in private practice and a member of the Ahwatukee Behavioral Health Network. Reach her at (480) 893-6767 or drkristinawelker@cox.net.

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