Love Happy: Out with the old, in with the new

Jan 12, 2012 at 8:00 a.m. ET

Welcome to Love Happy, where we help you successfully navigate the ups and downs of relationship life and share simple relationship tips for keeping love fun, fresh and on track. January is the month for fresh starts, so in this installment, we’re looking at what to improve on – and what to ditch in your relationship.

Couple talking about feelings

New year, new us

I'm a firm believer that not every resolution needs to be made as the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1. In fact, why limit positive change to one measly day of the year? With that in mind, I'm cleaning house this whole month where my relationship is concerned and making some positive changes of my own. No matter how long you've been with someone, you can always improve your relationship (or at least try), so here are a few of the things I'll be trying to do (or not do) this year.

Resolution #1: Making fewer assumptions

Even though I try not to, making assumptions is one of my worst relationship habits. It's so easy for me to assume my boyfriend feels a certain way without actually asking him first. This frustrates him and causes me undue stress as I sit and stew about something that isn't even real. So this year it's time to put a stop to making assumptions.

My fix: Rather than jumping to my own conclusions, I am going to start asking my guy how he feels or whether he's upset about something before assuming that he is.

Resolution #2: Listening more

I get distracted easily. This means that my attention span for things that I have no interest in is very small. So when my boyfriend talks to me about tools (he's really into woodworking) or sports (ditto all things involving a ball), I have a hard time really listening – and he notices. He ends up feeling slighted because I'm texting while he tells me about some saw or drill he wants to buy and that's not fair. A good relationship thrives on good listening skills.

My fix: No more distractions while he's trying to tell me something. I'll put the phone down, put my computer away and give him my full attention – no matter the subject.

Resolution #3: Being more direct

Even though honesty is the best policy, sometimes it can be hard to get straight to the point for fear of the other person getting upset. I often beat around the bush and drop hints rather than just come right out and say what I mean. This causes confusion and arguments when my boyfriend has to turn our discussions into a guessing game to decipher what I really want to say.

My fix: This year I'm going to be more direct and say what I mean – even when I'm worried that it will cause a debate or some sort of conflict.

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