22 Expert Tips to Fix Old Relationship Issues in the New Year

How You Can Fix Old Relationship Issues in the New Year

Beginning of the new year brings new enthusiasm, inspiration and a fresh hope for positive changes in our life. We commit to incorporate new things and habits to improve our lifestyle, health and well being. We let go off stale and toxic choices we made in the past to make way for a new way of life.

However, in listing our resolutions we mostly keep our focus on ourselves. What we don’t realize is that we alone cannot make our lives healthy and fulfilling, our surroundings, the people around us also matter, especially our partners. Our relationships, like all other things, need time and efforts to blossom.

This new year, resolve to be the best version of yourself and take initiatives to improve your relationship. Take measures to identify the latent issues you and your partner are struggling with and find ways to overcome them. Experts reveal how you can fix old issues and breathe new life into your relationship.

1. Be the kind of person you want your partner to be Tweet this 

New Project (23)Catherine DeMonte, LMFT

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 Tweet this 

New Project (1) (7)Pia Johnson, LMSW

When sharing issues within the relationship talk about yourself, the missteps you have made and what you can do differently in the future. 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. In terms of validation, honor your partner’s feelings and allow them to share their experiences. Don’t get defensive and dismiss them in a tit for tat war. Validation is a way of showing that you value your partner’s thoughts and feelings as they see them. This allows for elevated vulnerability, trust, and intimacy which will create a stronger bond in the relationship. Remember focus on the future, this is about creating a new plan for the New Year.

3. Focus on solving problems together Tweet this 

New Project (2) (6)

Justin Lioi, LCSW

What problems have you been trying to solve by yourself that are really relationship issues? Maybe you’ve got a complaint about something you don’t do—something around the house, in bed, for your work—and you’ve devised a nice plan to “get it right”. It’s amazing how often we try to make big changes that affect our relationship all on our own. Let’s use the New Year to lean on each other. Not too much where you’re asking your partner to take on the burden, but just enough so the success of your relationship is not on your shoulders alone.

Couples solving problems together

4. Pay attention to your partner and to your existing relationship struggles Tweet this 

New Project (3) (5)VICKI BOTNICK, MA, MS, LMFT

What if you started the new year giving your relationship as much attention as your waistline or career goals? Most of our resolutions have to do with ourselves, whether we’re hoping for a buffer body or to spend less time connected to our phones. But if we spent even half that energy on our partner, we’d be able to look at old problems with a fresh vision and find renewed energy to work on old issues.

What resolution would you make if your relationship were your only priority? How would this change your parenting, your sex drive, your passion for life?

You can tackle this in any way you want, from quite serious to light and fun. Maybe you’d decide to find a therapist and finally confront the long-held patterns that are dragging you both down. Or instead, you might vow to spice up the romance in your life. One idea is as simple as starting a new activity together, such as a wine-and-painting class or a rock-climbing expedition.

Anyone of these ideas can give your relationship a shot of energy, and help you to focus on one another with renewed intensity. Making relationship resolutions is a quick way to increase communication, intimacy, and excitement, the three keys to a long-lasting and fulfilling relationship.

5. Treat your partner the way you did at the beginning of the relationship Tweet this 

New Project (4) (4)Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT

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 the momentum and promise of the New Year to deal with old relationship issues Tweet this 

New Project (5) (4)Julie Brams, MA, LMFT

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.  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 problems with a fresh perspective, or Beginner’s Mind. Become curious again about your partner’s needs.  Otherwise, our relationships will play out the familiar even as we make that resolution to do things differently this year.

Acknowledge relationship expectations

7. Set your sights on a goal you’ve been putting on the back burner Tweet this 

New Project (6) (3)Lauren E. Taylor, LMFT

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 a 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 Tweet this 

New Project (7) (2)Yana Kaminsky, MA, LMFT

New Year resolutions usually pertain to one’s individual goals, excluding the partner. Therefore, include your partner should start the list.

If you refer to issues in your relationship as old, change the tune, Look for your strengths: are you a good team?

Never underestimate the power of small things: a compliment, a meal, a gift without occasion. And may appreciation and humor be always with you!

9. Eliminate negativity and apply practical constructive behaviors Tweet this 

New Project (8) (4)Dr. Debra Mandel

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!

Apply practical constructive behaviors

10. Awareness, consciousness, mindfulness, and consideration Tweet this 

New Project (9) (3)Timothy Rogers, MA ,LMFT

Yes, it’s that deep. However 2018 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.

All problems in our relationships have one common denominator: FEELINGS. 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. Not to mention shine a huge spotlight on the current state of your relationship problems, and help 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 relationship problems not only for 2018, but for the rest of your life!

11. Develop self-knowledge Tweet this 

New Project (10) (3)Deryl Goldenberg, PhD

Most of us don’t have the skills to have the kind of relationship we want and blame the other person for our dissatisfaction. Why not instead face that tendency and look into developing our self-knowledge and ability to manage our reactivity? Learning the language of emotional vulnerability significantly helps.

12. Re-evaluate and reprioritize some aspects of your relationship Tweet this 

New Project (11) (3)Dr. Mimi Shagaga

For many, the New Year offers the opportunity to start fresh. For couples, it can be a time to evaluate and re-prioritize aspects of their relationship. Reflecting on the previous year can help couples identify the relationship habits or patterns that they wish to break out of. They can then decide what changes to make and set goals together.

13. Talk to your partner about your goals together Tweet this 

New Project (12) (1)Marcie B. Scranton, LMFT

The beginning of January can feel less like a return to normality, and more like a holiday hangover. But it also represents a clean slate. Instead of resolutions, start the new year by talking to your partner about your goals: see how they line up, take stock, and seek help if needed.

Talking about goals as a couple

14. Willingness to see the relationship for what it  is Tweet this 

New Project (14) (3)Tamika Lewis, LCSW

As a psychotherapist, I find the New Year to be prime time for what I call “clearing your relationship closet.” 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:

  1. Is there something that I need in this relationship that I’m not getting?
  2. Have I communicated my needs in an open, honest, and direct way?
  3. Have I given up on getting what I need?

15. Show your partner that you care Tweet this 

New Project (15) (3)Dr. Gary Brown, PhD, LMFT, FAPA

One of the very best ways you can help repair old relationship issues is by starting each day by asking your partner the following question:

“What can I do to help make your day better today?”

Simply asking this question shows your partner that you are truly interested in their well-being and happiness.

16. Forgive yourself and let go of the past Tweet this 

New Project (16) (2)Elisha Goldstein, PhD

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. In doing this we can learn how to become more effective and happier in our relationships this year!

Learn to forgive

17. Incorporate positive habits to strengthen communication Tweet this 

New Project (17) (1)Deanna Richards, LMHC

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 afterwards.

Develop positive habits to strengthen communication

18. Opportunity to take a new and honest self-inventory Tweet this 

New Project (18) (1)Joanna Smith, MS, LPCC, RN

Have you been codependently trying to change or fix the person in your life while neglecting your needs? This new year assess your relationship on these factors and do what’s best for you and your partner. The only person you can change is yourself and it really only takes one person to break old patterns! Give your relationship a New Year kick start – turn the mirror inward and become your best self.

19. Engage in healthy arguments Tweet this 

New Project (22) (1)DARLENE LANCER, LMFT, MA, JD

It’s normal to have conflict in relationships. Desires and needs inevitably clash. Remind yourself that communication is to understand one another, not to be right. Learn how arguments can be a positive thing for a relationship.

20. Let go of fear Tweet this 

New Project (20) (1)SUSAN QUINN, LMFT

Relationships offer us hope for an amazing future and at the same time, they stimulate deep fear that we may lose the thing that we cherish so much.

These deep fears cause us to act out against our partner and can sabotage the relationship.

The type of fears we react to come from our core beliefs so the way to eliminate this problem is to change our limiting beliefs that are held in the unconscious mind.

21. Create a list of things you would like to improve your relationship Tweet this 

New Project (21) (1)NATALIA BOUCHER, LMFT

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…

  1. Communication
  2. Financial Struggles
  3. Connection
  4. Appreciation
  5. Self care

Create a list of things to improve your relationship

Consider therapy- If your relationship is going through difficult times, the new year is a great time to start couples therapy. If your partner is not willing to commit to couples’ work, individual therapy is also helpful. When one person changes the other one will have to adapt, creating a change in the couple’s dynamics.

Cheers to the changes coming to your relationship in this New Year!

22. Identify the strengths of your relationship Tweet this 

New Project (22) (1)CYNTHIA BLOORE, M.S.

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.


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