12 Relationship Resolutions to Revisit Every New Year
Set these simple relationship resolutions with your partner or individually for a stronger partnership in the New Year! This post was written by Michael Villarreal, LCPC, an associate therapist at Couples Counseling Associates.
Approaching the end of the year often leads couples to reflect on the last twelve months of their respective relationships. You may look back on special milestones that you reached this year, like moving in together, a new addition to your family, or perhaps a romantic couples retreat. Your thoughts might also drift to unpleasant memories or challenging moments which conjure negative emotions such as disappointment and resentment. Your reflections suddenly shift focus revealing unresolved feelings, pain, betrayal or possibly even anger.
Those unresolved feelings and negative thoughts often fuel couples in the development of a negative narrative of their relationship leaving partners feeling unfulfilled, unlovable, and disconnected. The power of such a negative narrative may minimize your pleasant experiences and it may leave you and your partner in a state of despair as you bring in the new year.
Below, I provide twelve simple New Year relationship resolutions to support you and your partner as you dive into 2020. Each of these intentions can serve as a reminder or as an opportunity to attempt a new approach in strengthening and improving your connection. These small changes can promote an opportunity to shift into a more positive narrative and perhaps even promote healing from the prior year’s painful experiences.
The Simple Relationship Resolutions
1. Write Relationship Gratitude List
Setting aside time to develop a gratitude list of your relationship can be helpful in maintaining a positive perspective of your relationship and the growth you both have experienced. I encourage partners to write these lists and share your gratitude with each other.
Take a moment to explore ways you can be intentional in your connection with your partner. In doing so, you may discover new and old ways which have helped your partner feel closer, loved, and supported by you.
- Suggest that extra lap around the block when going for a walk
- Affirm your partners strengths
- Initiate intimacy
- Take on a household duty for the week to reduce your partner’s already overwhelming work week
Stuck on how to reach your partner? Try the Love Languages Quiz.
3. Be empathetic
Often a partner might express, “I don’t want solutions!” Expressing empathy to our partner’s story provides a very important, implicit message, “I understand and can feel what this is like for you”. This may not always be our first instinct; you might suggest a solution, play devil’s advocate, disagree or go right into problem solving mode. We may also begin to feel uncomfortable with our partner’s distress and or remain silent, especially if you perceive yourselves to be the source of your partner’s pain.
Take a look at this short video to see how you can express compassion, support and love to your partner when your partner is in distress. This skill is not something you are born with, and we learn we often have experienced empathy in previous relationships.
4. Assume positive intent
As you notice discomfort within a conversation with your partner or perhaps your partner’s actions, prior to responding, take a moment to explore other explanations for your partner’s actions. 1-2 seconds before responding can provide an opportunity for you to reduce a negative reaction and determine, “What is my partner really trying to convey to me in this moment? Is your partner really trying to hurt, anger, frustrate you?” Often you might, see your partner is trying to resolve an issue or reach a common goal in the best way your partner knows how.
5. Set Personal Boundaries
Take an inventory of the way you establish and maintain boundaries in your relationship. Do you communicate your boundaries in a healthy and effective manner? Are others aware of your boundaries before, after or during the moments your partner has been crossed? Then use “I” statements to provide insight of the impact of recent events on my boundaries, feelings and values.
Take a moment periodically to reflect on your relationship and your partner. Express your own observations of how your relationship continues to flourish; How have you grown since first meeting each other? How does your partner inspire you? What wish might you have for your future together? Share these thoughts with your partner!
7. Use Humor
This simple relationship resolution can go a long way. Can I use humor to help diffuse tense moments with my partner? What if I dedicated a whole day to try to make my partner laugh? Comedic relief can have long lasting effects on the mind, body and soul. It can also in reducing tension as disagreements escalate – however be mindful not to use as a tool to make light of your partner’s feelings or perspective.
Take a second to recall the intimacy during the early stages of your relationship. Work, family, interests, hobbies, time management interfere with chemistry couples experience in the beginning. Explore new ways to maintain the emotional and physical intimacy between you and your partner; stolen kisses, texts, unexpected initiations.
9. Try Spontaneity
As previously mentioned, everyday life demands interfere with the “newness” of a relationship. Couples may report their relationship feeling stale and they are expecting the other to plan that special date, initiate sex, or surprise them. If things are feeling a little bland then take the first step, you might be surprised that one small step can inspire your partner to reciprocate; i.e. plan a day trip, come home early, sleep in together, take the day off, set up that double date, set up that volunteer orientation, write that love letter. Whatever it is – do it now!
Every day when you leave home, whether at school, work or in the community, you try your very best to be respectful, polite, caring, considerate and kind. Maintaining that demeanor at home can be difficult as you may be depleted; however, wouldn’t that be where it matters the most? Before returning home to your partner, take a pause and set an intention to work on being kind or patient tonight. Notice the impact.
11. Think “We-ness”
As challenges present themselves, highlight each other’s strengths to address the issues before you. You and your partner make a good team! Collaboratively explore ways to continue the “team” approach to resolve your current disagreement, problem or issue.
12. Try Counseling
Suggesting Individual and Couples Counseling can be an excellent opportunity to begin the healing process and discover new ways of relating to your partner and yourself. In this safe space, your therapist collaboratively creates a path to begin exploring the ineffective relationship patterns causing distress, while providing experiential exercises to allow you and your partner to begin practicing new skills.
Perhaps these simple relationship resolutions and tips can help revitalize a strained relationship with your partner. Revisit the list above as you progress throughout the year and see how creative you can be.