The beginning of a new year is a great time to reflect, reinvent, and recharge. One area in particular that may need some reinvention is your love life. You’ve likely made resolutions relating to your career and your health, but your relationships are just as important to your overall well-being.
“With a burgeoning 2016 upon us, it’s time to look at some relationship resolutions! I know all of you are fantastic, amazing people, but we can all do a little bit better!” certified dating coach Hunt Ethridge told The Cheat Sheet.
Here are some resolutions that may help you improve your relationship and get the love you deserve.
Show empathy and connect more
Couples should resolve to be more empathic. Individuals often want concern for their issues but are not willing to do the same for the people they love. When you are hurt by a significant other, remember he or she loves you. While your loved one’s actions may not show that love in that moment, that does not mean there was an intention to cause you pain. Give your partner the opportunity to explain before you react or retaliate.
It’s also important to strengthen your connection with your partner. It is easy to get comfortable in a relationship. While this isn’t the worst thing, couples often report feeling like roommates before the bigger issues begin. Remember to talk and touch daily. Make efforts to be vulnerable with your partner and create a safe space for him or her to be vulnerable and draw closer.
Tips for keeping your relationship resolutions:
Remember this is a person who loves you. Remember you chose to be with your partner and you wouldn’t choose someone who would intentionally hurt you. Identify if you are being triggered by past pain or that specific situation. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes.
Stay connected by vowing to do these things: resolve to make your partner smile often. Create a safe space for your partner to share: Talk Less; listen more. Do something unexpected for your partner.
Eboni Harris, MA, LPC, LMFTA
Relationship and Family Therapist, Clinical Director of Ann’s Place Partnerships
Have fun and take risks
This may sound juvenile (you may be thinking: “I’m an adult. Fun is for children and dogs. I have work to do and bills to pay!”), but fun is the key to happiness! When you are doing something that you find fun, your body opens up, your energy level goes up, you — gasp — smile! It’s not only good for your own well-being, but also draws others to you. And when they meet this fantastic, fun person, they will want to spend more time with you and possibly date you. Even if that person doesn’t want to date you, they have brothers, sisters, co-workers and friends that might be great for you! They’ll tell their friends, “I just met this totally dynamic, interesting and fun person! I think he/she would be great for you! Let me introduce you!”
Your second resolution should be to take risks! Enough with the bitching and moaning; get out there! The coefficient of static friction is always larger than the coefficient of kinetic friction. All this means is that it’s much harder to start something than it is to keep it going. So get going! Nothing will ever be perfect, you’ll never feel perfectly in the mood for something. But these are excuses we use to dissuade us from facing the unknown. One of my favorite quotes is “luck favors the prepared mind.” Of course a lot of dating is luck, but if you’re constantly out there, luck has a much easier chance of finding you!
Now how about you couples? Maybe you celebrated the New Year with champagne and friends or maybe it was with Netfilx and fleece. Either way, you’re totally happy you have someone to share this with. But many times, when we feel we’ve “won” and gotten someone, our game slips. Granted, not showering on the weekend or laughing at your partner’s fart is part of the fun of being in a relationship, but let’s not forget that we need to continue to date our significant other, always!
Tips for keeping your resolutions:
Agree to your partner’s first choice of something. Full disclosure, I’m married. And I love it! However, anyone who has been in a long-term relationship knows how difficult it is to agree on something sometimes. If we want to watch a movie, we have to plan for a 40 minutes of choosing [what to watch]. And of course, we like very different things, so it can be tough to find a compromise. So every once in a while, mentally tell yourself ahead of time that you are going to agree with the first thing your partner suggests. “What do you want to do today?” “Where do you want to eat?” Just suck it up and agree to the first thing with a smile on your face. It’ll shock them to their core and they’ll be pleased as punch!
Thank your partner once a day. As those of us in a relationship know, it’s not the over-the-top romantic gestures that keep us together, it’s the small ones that happen every day. We can unfortunately get too comfortable with each other and start to take each other for granted. So every day, thank your partner for something small. Whether it’s passing the rice, handing you your coat or, well, sex! Feeling appreciated is awesome and yes, we usually know that our partner does, but it’s always great to be reminded of it!
Hunt Ethridge, certified dating coach
Unplug from technology, have more sex, and create shared goals
For couples who are overextended and going to bed with two laptops and one mattress, commit to a regular electronics-free date night. This is the night when you leave your cell phones in the car or turned off for the evening. It’s very difficult for many couples to do this, but that’s because they’re so addicted. And those who find it most difficult are the couples who need it the most! The electronics-free night allows you to reconnect emotionally, romantically, sexually and otherwise.
Have more sex! Regular sex is important for keeping relationships together in the long run — and it’s easy to lose that. Someone gets sick, work gets busy, the kids are demanding, you let yourselves go — and the next thing you know, it’s been one, two, three or more months and sometimes, it’s even years [since you’ve had sex]. Getting back into a good groove is a lot more difficult than it would seem. Sometimes, you have to just take the romance out of romance, and schedule it in — especially when you’re busy and in a long-term relationship!
Make a joint bucket list. When your relationship is boring, or you begin to feel blue and can’t put your finger on why, it’s usually because your shared goals are gone or so far out of reach, you feel like you’re treading water or running the wheel of a gerbil cage. Make a concrete (write it down) bucket list, and keep it on the refrigerator with a magnet for updating. The list can include short and long-term goals like having sex somewhere specific and new, or taking a year to teach English as a second language in a country you both admire.
Tips for keeping your relationship resolutions:
Make sure the resolution is meaningful to you both. It’s a lot easier to keep a difficult resolution that’s important than one that’s difficult and you don’t care too much about! Use the [30th] or 31st of each month as a check-in date to see where you are on the resolution. Call it New Month’s Eve instead of New Year’s Eve. If you do this, it won’t be buried in your to do list.
Discipline is underestimated and your best resource for making sure your resolutions are kept. If you practice it in the gym, or with the food you eat, or your grooming upkeep, you’ll be more likely to practice it in other places. Think of discipline like cross-training. Each area relates to each other in some way. Stay focused and execute! When you do achieve a resolution, celebrate. You deserve to pat yourself on the back and brag a little because when you keep your resolutions and improve your lives, sharing that news is impetus for others to do the same in their own relationships.
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