The New Year is here and millions of us have made resolutions that we hope will get us on the right track for success. We might have decided to eat better, focus on our finances, be kinder to people, or a host of other equally as admirable things. But how about making a resolution that affects not just you but your spouse or partner too?
As the new year begins it is a perfect time to reset and renew. For many couples there’s no more important thing to focus on than ways to improve their relationship. Even strong and healthy relationships can take some blows over the holiday season. The busyness, extra spending and heightened family stress can take a toll, and if you relationship was already strained in any way these things can just make it all worse.
So taking this opportunity for a natural fresh start and making a plan for improving your relationship can be an important step for everyone. Even if your relationship already a good one, why not try to make it better, or at lease bullet-proof it for the coming year? Consider the following ways to resolve to make your relationship stronger and healthier in the new year.
1. Think twice before you speak.
One of the biggest problems for couples are hurtful words spoken in the heat of the moment. You may not mean it when you call your wife an idiot, or really plan to dreg up every past mistake to rehash – it just comes out before you even know what you have said, and now things are 10 times worse. Thinking before you speak is important in all areas of life, but because relationships are so deeply personal the harsh words that can slip out are all the more painful. Talk to your partner and together agree to think first, especially if things are heated. Perhaps even agree to remind the each other of this as a situation intensifies.
2. Practice kindness, even in humor.
You may love your partner, but often that love and familiarity make them easy targets when trying to be funny. You may think it’s all in good fun, but he or she may not see it that way. It’s quite possible that what you think are humorous jabs at her cooking because of the time she caught the oven on fire are actually painful reminders that she doesn’t measure up. Try having a talk about whether your humor (or theirs) is missing the mark too often. Doing this will help you avoid the pitfalls as well as demonstrate the respect and caring that are so important in a strong relationship.
3. Use positive positioning.
When discussing things try taking the most positive approach possible. If you want to do more things together for instance, rather than saying, “You never want to do anything” try saying, “We have so much fun together – let’s find some new things to do.” The positive initiation sets things up for an open conversation, whereas the negative approach will put your partner on the defensive. Having a discussion about this will help you both refine your approach.
4. Express affection more often.
Studies have shown that actively expressing your affection for one another, verbally or physically, will bring you closer. Most couples do this to some degree some of the time, but doing it more often can make your relationship stronger. Initially this may feel forced, but making a point to hug, kiss, and tell one another how much you love and appreciate each other will start to feel more and more natural and form a habit.
5. Get interested.
As our relationships grow we often can take for granted that we know all we need to about our partners. This isn’t true. In fact, our thoughts and opinions can change quite a bit over time. And work environments or outside experiences can bring about new situations and experiences that shape us. Expressing interest in each other by asking questions and discussing new situations and opinions can help make your relationships more solid and interesting.
Happy relationships don’t just happen, they are made. If your desire for the coming year is to have a stronger, healthier relationship it won’t happen without work and effort – from both of you. To make this one stick your best bet is to make the resolution together and discuss ahead of time the ways you will both make it happen.
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