People always say that a good relationship is 50- 50. I actually disagree. It’s 100/100.
When each person is bringing themselves to the relationship 100%, and not waiting for the other to make the first step like being the first to apologize, the first to say “I love you”, the first to break the silence, that’s what makes a good partnership.
Both people bringing their best selves to the table.
The new year can be a fantastic time to create this in your marriage. Be the kind of person you want your partner to be. What you put a light on grows. Find ways to bring light to your marriage!
2. Be accountable and validate your partner’s feelings
Try not to blame, criticize or recreate old scenarios with your partner. Use this conversation as a learning tool to heal past wounds, create new outcomes to old issues and enhance your life journey together.
Everyone has heard the saying, “New year, new you,” but this can also apply to your relationship.
A reboot can happen at any time but the renewed optimism of a new year can be a perfect opportunity to practice old, forgotten behaviors and share your best self. Channel the manner in which you treated your partner in the first three months of the relationship and instantly create a roadmap to reconnection and rejuvenation.
6. Use New Year to deal with old relationship issues
We rarely if ever approach the New Year with Beginner’s Mind or no expectations.
Instead, we approach the new with what we already know and expect to happen again. Here lies both the conundrum and the answer to addressing the old in the new. Specifically, we want to learn to address our old familiar problems in our relationship with a fresh perspective, with Beginner’s Mind.
We want to create a shift in our perspective of the old. Otherwise, our relationship will play out the familiar even as we make that resolution to do things differently this year.
The first step is to acknowledge the old expectations, even before you deep dive into how to fix relationship problems or how to fix a failing relationship.
Once you have recognized the old expectation, take a moment to identify which of your core values it’s connected to.
When our core values are not met we become anxious, depressed or argumentative as we try to make our need understood by our partner.
Understanding your underlying values, for example, security, comfort, or quality time, can help facilitate a new approach to an old discussion.
Check to see if your values and your partner’s values are in sync.
You may discover conflicting values like your need for solitude butting up against your partner’s need for bonding time.
Both values are “right”, but need to be negotiated. Ask each other how you can problem-solve together to meet each of your values.
From a Mindfulness perspective, the New Year allows us to meet old familiar relationship challenges with a fresh perspective or Beginner’s Mind.
Become curious again about your partner’s needs and open to exploring answers to the questions, “how to deal with relationship problems” or “how to solve relationship problems”
Without this mindfulness, our relationships will play out the familiar even as we make that resolution to do things differently this year.
7. Set your sights on a goal you’ve been neglecting
The New Year is a great time for fresh starts and renewed relationships.
This can be a moment to try something new together that may restore your connection and bring hope to your relationship.
Work together to establish a new hobby, set your sights together on a goal you’ve been putting on the back burner or take time away to explore a nearby travel spot on the weekend. Whatever you do, work together as a unit to plan your new venture.
This planning and togetherness will give you both the time and connection needed to move forward and ignite changes in your relationship. This is also a great time to find third party support who can help you each, navigate the relationship in a way that encourages your growth together.
Invest in some therapy sessions, attend a weekend couple’s retreat or reconnect with the pastor who met you at the altar.
8. Include your partner in your new year’s resolutions
The start of a new year brings inspiration and the promise of change for many people.
But in order for our relationships to improve and no longer carry forward the same recycled issues, we need to become conscious of what we do to create negativity in our lives and apply practical and constructive behavioral changes.
In doing so, a different and better outcome will blossom! So start planting fresh new seeds now!
However this can be THE YEAR where you can actually heal from the old learned patterns of poor communication, maladaptive accommodation of others (and being resentful about it), as well as “people pleasing” or even trying to control others.
How? Awareness. Consciousness, Mindfulness, Consideration. But not just of others with whom you are in a relationship, of YOU, first then others, in that order.
I know, “duh!” But consider how we were introduced to and how our feelings and their conduit, emotions were handled in our family of origin, will tell you all you need to know about your later experiences and young adult history in relationships and the ensuing relationship difficulties.
Not to mention shine a huge spotlight on the current state of your relationship problems, that will help to lead you to future relationships not yet realized.
Once you become conscious of those incredibly influential family of origin experiences with feelings, and the patterns of dissatisfying relationships that followed, you’ll know exactly how to address the healing and discarding of old, common relationship problems not only for this year but for the rest of your life!
Why not instead face that tendency and look into developing our self-knowledge and ability to manage our reactivity and overcome problems in a relationship? Learning the language of emotional vulnerability significantly helps.
12. Reprioritize some aspects of your relationship
As a psychotherapist, I find the New Year to be prime time for what I call “clearing your relationship closet while solving relationship problems.”
I love the Annie Dillard quote that says, “how we spend our days, is how we spend our lives.” One day of living with bottled up thoughts and emotions often turns into a lifetime of resentment. The key to clearing out old habits in your relationship is being willing to see the relationship for what it is. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
Is there something that I need in this relationship that I’m not getting?
Have I communicated my needs in an open, honest, and direct way?
The New Year is a time to forgive ourselves for the time gone by, giving up the hope for a better past, investigating what patterns haven’t been working for us so we can learn from them, and wholeheartedly invite ourselves to begin again.
The New Year can help you breathe life and spark creativity back into your relationship. Start by asking yourselves, “What habits have we formed and how does it help us connect physically, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually?” Make a list of all your habits and cross off the ones that move you away from connecting with each other.
What new habits might you need to form to help you reconnect in these four areas? Maybe it’s creating a date night.
Perhaps, you want to have new experiences in the bedroom and a new habit will be to choose something of your “Want to Try” list every month. A new habit could be one night a week listening or reading something with your partner and then sharing your thoughts and feelings afterward.
18. Opportunity to take a new and honest self-inventory
Some of us like to think of the new year as a time to start fresh and introduce some changes.
This is also a good time to think about the changes you and your partner can implement to improve and have a more fulfilling relationship.
The first step is to create a list of the strengths of your relationship, things that make your relationship special, unique and valuable. Most people have difficulties with this list since it is always easier to think of negative things.
Once you created the list, think of things that you would like to improve. Here is a list of ideas…
Think about your relationship successes – what was happening and what were you doing then that worked?
Identifying your strengths is always a good starting point when you are making changes or resolving conflicts. Also, focusing on your partner’s strengths can bring new life and love into your relationship while overcoming common long term relationship problems.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.