Make 2019 the year you prioritize your relationship. Formulating resolutions together is a great way to focus on what you both agree is important. Working on keeping those resolutions can strengthen your connection and even revitalize it. Here are some suggestions.
Don’t Just Talk—Communicate. This may be a cliché, but that’s because it’s true. Real communication is critical to an intimate relationship. That means you do more than talk about the mundane logistics of your day. That means you do not talk past each other. You do not talk without really listening too.
Real communication goes deep. It means you take the time and energy to help your partner understand how you feel. You express your beliefs and your partner grasps your meaning. Your partner expresses his too.
You both know and understand how you feel and what you believe. You don’t have to feel and believe the same—chances are you won’t. But you have to understand your partner’s point of view. These ideas may change over time as your feelings and beliefs evolve. So make it a point to check in with your partner. Make an appointment to have a discussion in 2019. Or better yet, schedule regular conversations.
Trade Compliments for Complaints. Oh, how easy it is to slip into a habit of complaining. Or criticizing. And how detrimental it is to your relationship. Instead of complaining, identify the issue that bothers you and work with your partner to find a solution. Or examine what you find to be objectionable and decide to overlook it if it’s not important.
Actively seek opportunities to give your spouse a compliment. Make an effort to notice the nice things he does for you, for your family, for your household. Even routine tasks deserve a thank-you. Try to catch him doing something nice and let him know you appreciate it. Don’t be surprised if he begins to do the same for you. Kindness is catching. When he feels good about himself he’ll want you to feel good too.
Be honest, emotionally and every other way. This may be tougher than you think. It may take some soul searching to even understand what your true emotions are. It’s often just easier to delude yourself than to face the truth. Especially if you have some shame associated with how you feel.
But once you do uncover an important emotion, share that realization with your spouse. Even if it’s tough for you. Because you need to keep him in the loop. And because you need to have as many points of connection as possible to keep your relationship strong. And if the emotion involves your spouse in a negative way, be careful how you phrase it. Don’t complain or criticize. Say how you feel honestly and directly without making an accusation against your partner.
And one more note; Honesty doesn’t mean bluntness. Some people feign being honest when they’re really being cruel instead. You know, saying something to your partner like, “That was a stupid move.” And when he’s hurt by your words you say, “Well, I’m just being honest.” No you’re not. You’re just being mean.
Next week we’ll talk about a few more resolutions that will keep your marriage happy and healthy in the new year.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact