Every New Year's we decide what we want to change for the year. Unfortunately, for most of us, it's almost become a joke to make a New Year's resolution. People plan to lose weight, get their finances in order, and promise to spend more time on a particular interest, only to find them forgotten mid-January.
There are important steps you can take to make your resolutions stick. While you are at it, why not make some resolutions this year as a couple? These steps are geared towards helping you make a better relationship this year.
Step 1. Change "New Year's Resolutions" to "What do we want to see happen this year in our relationship?"
As I said, resolutions have become a joke, so I want you to become more visionary as a couple here. How do you want the relationship to look this time next year?
Do you want to be spending more time together, having more fun, or taking/planning trips? Perhaps you would like to be doing a hobby together or having fun working out a couple of times a week. Have fun with this and discuss it together.
Step 2. Imagine what your relationship would be like if you made these changes.
Imagine what would change in the relationship if you made these changes. How would you feel emotionally and in some aspects, physically? Would you feel closer to each other? Imagine what that would be like.
Step 3. Decide what you need to do specifically to make these changes to your relationship.
What do you need to do personally to make these changes? What about as a couple? If you want to spend more time together, do you need to find a regular babysitter for the kids? Create a goal of how often you want to go out and even go ahead and put it on the calendar. Think of other creative ways to make it happen.
If you can't go on a date every week (this might be unrealistic if you have children) create an at-home date night with no TV, computer, phone, or iPad. Just the two of you talking, playing a game, feeling a little frisky! Set these up as well. If you write things down, you are more likely to follow- thru.
Step 4. ALWAYS write down your goals or changes. Always!
I suggest writing these in a journal together or on your phone where they are going to be accessible. If you put them on a mirror or something you see every day, you get used to it and don't notice it anymore. Put it somewhere that you can access it but that is isn't right in front of you.
I like to keep my goals in my phone, my journal (for review), and on my clipboard at work. I don't see it every day but I can look at it when I need to if I am at work.
Step 5. Review your changes and goals often.
The challenge with New Year's resolutions is that we usually only create them in January. If we had them or reviewed them, say every 3 months, we may have more success in keeping them. Why not do that?
Every 3-4 months check-in with each other and see how it's going. Are you keeping your commitments? Are you creating more time together? Don't be discouraged if you are not. You can always start right then!
It may be helpful to set a reminder on your phone every 3 months. It's amazing how fast 3 months go by and it's easy to forget. With modern technology these days, there are little excuses to forget!
Step 6. Find an accountability partner.
This is the best tip I can give you. If you have someone who knows you well, has your best interest at heart, and knows you want to work on your marriage- tell them about the changes you are making. Ask them to hold you accountable and ask you from time to time how it's going.
Be sure this is a person of your same gender and share with your partner who has chosen as your accountability partner. That way they can agree if they feel emotionally safe having that person know the goals. You may decide to not share every detail of the goals but just be general.
For example, if one of your goals is to have more sexual intimacy, perhaps you could tell your friend that you are just hoping to make some changes in your relationship and you would like them to ask you if you are doing your part to make it happen. That is keeping it general and safe for your partner.
These steps have tested tried and true both with my clients and in my life as well. I used to make New Year's resolutions, only to find them forgotten as well. Now I make life changes, see it differently, and create action steps to get there. It has changed EVERYTHING in my life! You can use these steps for anything in your life, not just relationships.
I truly wish you and yours a Happy New Year!