The New Year is a great time to enjoy some bubbly, clean out closets and look forward to your next trip around the sun.
For married and committed couples, it’s also a fine opportunity to think about relationships and personal improvement. As individuals, we love to bundle that kind of stuff into things called “resolutions”. But there are also helpful intentions you can set together as a couple.
Here are 7 New Year’s resolutions to make and get 2018 started on the right foot. Note that these aren’t necessarily issues that need fixing; they’re steps to prevent things from breaking.
- SHARE IN SOMETHING YOUR PARTNER LOVES
Some years ago psychologists did a study to the number one trait that predicted relationship outcomes. In short, it was the partners’ “turn-toward” rates (as opposed to turning away in indifference or scorn) when invited to participate in something their partners deemed relevant or exciting.
You don’t have to like everything your partner likes, but when s/he asks you to participate, why not join in? Whether it’s a conversation about sports or a weekend of interpretive dance, try being your partner’s partner in things that aren’t entirely your jam. Who knows – you might actually have a great time.
- CHOOSE TO BE KIND
There is never an excuse to be anything but careful and respectful with your words. There are times you’ll both be cranky, challenging or argumentative. But skip the condescension, the dismissiveness and insults. Save the emotional abuse for people who deserve it, like surly store clerks and traffic cops.
- LISTEN TO EACH OTHER’S ADVICE
After being together awhile as a couple, you may experience “the parent effect”. You hear your significant other giving you guidance so often that you begin to ignore it. But remember, your partner isn’t your parent. S/he is your equal – someone who should have your best interests in mind. You don’t always have to seek out advice, but when it comes, actually listening and responding thoughtfully will benefit both of you.
- KEEP YOUR SEX LIFE BURNING BRIGHT
Make it a priority to be intimate more often. It’s a great couple’s therapy – and fine exercise too. Our working lives can be stressful, and sleep is important, but it’s just as crucial to prioritize the fun stuff. Try more morning sex to set you both up for a fantastic day ahead.
- DON’T FORGET YOUR SINGLE FRIENDS
They’re not dead, they’re just single! So invite them along. At least some of your nights out can involve uneven numbers (what’s wrong with a 7th wheel?). Keeping up with your single friends ensures that you not only maintain strong friendships, but also preserve healthy links to the other half of the world that’s not coupled up.
- GIVE GIFTS OUTSIDE OF THE “BIG OCCASIONS”
Birthdays, Valentine’s Day and holidays are great opportunities to express your love. But think about it: every day is a fine day to say how grateful you are to be in this relationship. So give a gift out of the blue. Whether it’s a small box of candy or a brand new car, reminding your partner that you love making her happy is a fine habit.
- PRACTICE GRATITUDE
If you are lucky enough to have someone who supports you, listens to you and walks beside you in life, you are literally one of the luckiest people in the world. Feel that gratitude and show it – internally and externally – for the relationship you are fortunate to have. If you can keep even this one resolution, the rest will come easier too.
NEED MORE LOVE, WARMTH AND SUPPORT IN YOUR MARRIAGE?
Janae Munday, LCSW, a skilled marriage counselor in the Phoenix, Arizona area, helps married and committed couples create the relationships they really want. Even if you’re struggling now, Janae can help you build new skills to achieve a stronger partnership. Call now for a convenient appointment.