New Year’s Resolution 2013: Strengthen Your Relationship

It\’s easy to guess the number one New Year\’s resolution of 2012—Lose Weight. Others in the top ten included Enjoy Life to the Fullest, Spend More Time with Family, Help Others in Their Dreams, and Fall in Love. What do these resolutions have in common? All have to do with relationships, often with your significant other.

Why not make a resolution to strengthen your relationship with your partner? Sit down with him or her and talk about what you\’d like to accomplish in your life together. It\’s true that a hefty percentage of people don\’t actually realize their goals, but you have a better chance if you talk about concrete ways you might reach your goals with your partner. And when you work together, and are accountable to each other, your chances get even better.

You should come up with your own list of resolutions that are specific to your relationship, but here are a few ideas to get you and your partner thinking.

1)    Let go of past hurts. The toughest one first. If your partner has breached your relationship in such a way that you feel resentment or bitterness, it\’s hard to let go of that anger. It\’s hard to forgive. Yet it is essential to truly dissolve any lingering hurt you may feel toward your partner so you may fully love again. A healthy relationship means neither of you can harbor a grudge. But since this is easier said than done, counseling may be the answer. Resolve to make an appointment to help you remove obstacles to a happy relationship.

2)    Hold your tongue. This is tough, too. Think before you speak. If you say something hurtful, you can never take it back. Once the words are out of your mouth, you can\’t stuff them back in. So resolve to communicate with care. There are so many opportunities to hurt your partner unintentionally—your words can be easily misinterpreted—that you should take care to avoid deliberate slights.

3)    Walk in your partner\’s moccasins. Use your imagination—what does your partner think? How does s/he feel? Better yet, ask the questions directly to understand your partner\’s point of view. It will help you remain cognizant of how your actions impact your partner. After all, you are part of a couple, and your actions affect your significant other, so try to understand how, and behave accordingly.

4)    Listen carefully. Even before all the electronic distractions we have today, it was easy to hear your partner without really listening. That familiar voice can be so deftly tuned out you don\’t even know you are doing it. Do more than make an effort to stop texting, IMing and e-mailing when your partner is talking to you. Try mindful listening. Try really understanding and repeating what your think your partner means to ensure you do.

5)    Be demonstratively grateful. Catch your partner doing good things and reinforce that behavior by showing your gratitude. “Thank you” is simple, and it works. “So thoughtful of you to fill the car with gas before my long drive.” It never hurts to notice the nice things your partner does. “Thanks for making dinner,” even if she does it every night. Or maybe especially if she does it every night. Notice even the smallest good things, and let the other small things that bug you go. Your partner will feel better, and you\’ll feel better too.

6)    Refuse to fight. A friend\’s husband suggested to her, when they first became involved, that there is no need to fight. At all. “People,” he said, “think you need to fight fair. Establish rules. Have a protocol. I think you don\’t need to fight at all. Let\’s agree not to fight.” And they don\’t. They disagree, they sometimes don\’t speak for awhile, but they don\’t fight. They have learned to say how they feel without being accusatory or critical of their partner.

7)    Make time for fun. You wouldn\’t think you\’d need to make a resolution to have fun. But sometimes our lives get so hectic, it\’s essential to make a plan and establish a time for fun. Just the two of you. Do what you enjoy—go out for a great dinner, have a game of cribbage by the fire, make time for leisurely sex. Pay attention to each other. Be affectionate. Touch. Tender physical contact contributes to the emotional strength of your relationship.

If you spend time working together on resolutions to strengthen your relationship, whether at home or with the help of a counselor, you\’ll already have made the first step toward achieving your goal.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.

 

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