For BRIDES, by Elizabeth Mitchell.
New year, new marriage. Well, sort of. Whether you just got hitched in 2016 or are coming up on your 10-year anniversary, it’s never too early (or too late) to start working on your relationship and building toward a healthier, happier future together. But exactly what goals should you set, and more importantly, how in the world will you actually get yourselves to stick to them? That, couples, is the question.
According to research from the Journal of Clinical Psychology, approximately 8 percent (yep you read that right) of Americans actually make good on their New Year’s resolutions, which, admittedly, doesn’t look so promising. The biggest problem, however, is the goals themselves. Instead of thinking big (i.e. we’ll do spinning together five times a week), in reality it’s best to start small (i.e. we’ll do one spinning class a week) and work your way up from there.
You’ll also want to get much more specific with your resolutions, as opposed to keeping them very vague and general. For example, don’t just vow to be more affectionate in 2017; find measurable ways you can achieve this goal, like touching each other every time you watch TV, and make that your New Year’s mission. See, easy right? And definitely not nearly as overwhelming as just trying to get in more physical touch.
From learning his “love language” to playing the appreciation game, we’ve put together 18 New Year’s marriage resolutions to get the love flowing and the bonds growing in 2017. Remember: you can tailor any and all of these to make them reachable and achievable for your own relationship.
1. Plan a weekly (or bi-weekly) date night.
Even if it’s at home once in awhile, commit to a weekly (or bi-weekly) date night to reconnect and keep the romance alive in your relationship, suggests psychologist and relationship expert Paulette Kouffman Sherman, author of Dating from the Inside Out.
2. Practice more positive talk.
Vow to say five positive things for every negative remark toward your spouse, recommends Sherman. Not only will this help nip the negativity in the bud, but it will also build both of you up and encourage you to focus on the good in each other — as opposed to dwelling on the not so good.
3. Play the appreciation game.
Every evening at dinner, practice telling your partner one thing you appreciate about him and have him do the same for you. It can be something specific like how he helped you solve a dilemma that day or more general like the fact that he works his booty off to support you and the fam! Switch it up nightly, and let the love flow.
4. Actively seduce each other.
And vow to make it a priority at least once a month (if not more), advises NY Times Bestselling author of 101 Nights of Great Sex, Laura Corn.
“Dream up something unique to do together in the bedroom, make a plan at least a week out and let your partner know something special is coming.” Drop hints along the way (sexting works well!) until the big, unforgettable night. “The elements of surprise and anticipation that this helps create are critical to a lasting, powerful sexual relationship.”
5. Fight fair.
According to marriage and family therapist Alicia Taverner, LMFT, owner of Rancho Counseling, the best New Year's resolution for couples is to fight fair.
“This means refraining from things like name calling, criticism, attacking personality or character traits and bringing up past issues into a current fight. You want to fight about the topic at hand and discuss it until you feel there is resolution or an agreement to disagree.”
Here’s how she recommends structuring the gripe: “I'm upset/angry/sad about ____. In the future I'd like it if you could ____.”
6. Touch each other every time you watch TV.
One thing Crystal Rice, owner of Insieme Consulting, finds that couples in trouble have stopped being affectionate in non-sexual ways. So vow to do better!
“By simply sitting next to your partner on the couch, you increase the probability of affection, a commodity often seen far too little in long-term relationships,” she says.
7. Stop lying about the little things.
Like looking good in a sweater that's gotten too small! Yep, you heard us right.
When we lie about the little things, it gets easier and easier to lie about the bigger stuff, explains Rice. “And then one day you wake up and realize you've been lying about feelings or thoughts or concerns that should have been brought to light many months or years earlier. You don't have to be a rat about it. You can say, ‘I like you better in the blue sweater.’”
Whatever you do, just don't lie.
See the rest of Resolutions Every Married Couple Should Make Together on Brides.com