Between work, family and life, working on your marriage can easily slip to the bottom of your to-do list.
The new year is a perfect time to sit down with your spouse and set some New Year’s resolutions for revitalizing and improving your marriage. No matter where you are in your marriage journey — whether you are happy and healthy or experiencing bumps in the road — recommitting to your shared goals and identifying as a married couple is critical to your ongoing success. Below are five New Year’s resolutions for your marriage.
Many marriage experts say successful married couples recommit to their marriages on a daily basis. No matter what has happened before, each morning is a new opportunity to love your partner and recommit to your lives together. Most of us just don’t have the time to do a daily recommitment. Instead, take the opportunity of the new year to remind each other that you are committed to your relationship as a married couple. Reminisce about your relationship from the very beginning and tell loving stories about how you met, your wedding and other joyful times. Also, take a moment to revisit difficult times, but look at them through the lens of, “Wow! We made it through! Isn’t that great? We must really love each other!”
2. Fight fair
Most married couples fight, and even if a couple doesn’t fight out loud, partners often have silent fights that can still be traumatizing to both. The key is not to avoid fighting entirely, but to fight fairly. Take the new year as a moment to set boundaries and rules about how you will approach disagreements. Remember that you both deserve to have your feelings respected and heard, but since you are in a marriage, you also need to respect your spouse’s communications, needs and sensitivities. Fighting is inevitable, but neither of you needs to endure long-term trauma or risk tearing the integrity of your marriage by being sloppy about it.
3. Get closer
Intimacy within marriage goes through many phases, but all agree that some form of intimacy is a core element of a happy, healthy marriage. Intimacy can mean many things, from a loving hug when you’ve had a bad day to good, old-fashioned sex. It’s no surprise that men typically think in terms of sex and, therefore, sometimes miss their wife’s cues that they need more physical connection in addition to bedroom time. Talk about intimacy in your marriage. Tell your partner what you really want and listen when he tells you what he would like. Don’t get defensive or start putting numbers and restrictions on each other, but just listen deeply and commit to making an effort to adding more intimacy into your lives so that you both get what you need.
4. Make time
Many married couples find themselves spending more time apart, especially when there are kids and jobs to juggle. Date night, which might have been something you did years ago, might have fallen by the wayside, and instead, you sit in separate rooms scrolling through your individual technical devices. No matter how tired you are at the end of the day or on the weekend, remember to nurture your marriage by making time for each other. It can be doing something simple like going for a walk together or grabbing a coffee, or it can be a formal date. It can even just be a commitment to sit together on the couch and talk to each other without devices for 15 minutes. Whatever you do, make time for your marriage.
5. Give appreciation
It’s completely natural to fall into habits in a marriage and forget to verbally appreciate your spouse. All of us do this from time to time, especially when busyness overtakes us. We start to just assume that our partner “should” take out the trash or “should” cook dinner, instead of remembering to appreciate the fact that he did. Using words of appreciation seems like such a simple thing to do, but it slips away in many marriages. Make a resolution together to appreciate the little things you do for each other. It might feel a little bit silly or forced at first, but do your best to stick with it and genuinely speak words of encouragement, thanks and love to your partner.
The New Year is a perfect time to work on some goals for improving your marriage. I wish you much luck and success in this endeavor!
Malini Bhatia is the founder of Marriage.com, a website dedicated to providing value in every marriage.