Don’t worry–I would never tell you to eat less sugar or start doing pilates for your New Year’s resolution (those sound hard), but if you set the right goals, the new year can bring amazing changes to your relationship.
1. Work on showing gratitude
Gratitude is incredibly important in any relationship. Just hearing a simple “thank you” from a friend or co-worker can brighten anyone’s day, but it’s especially great when your SO tells you how much they appreciate you.
I could be having the worst day ever, but when my fiancé tells me how grateful he is that I made dinner or that I took out the trash, it always brightens up my mood. Just knowing that someone notices my effort makes me feel appreciated and even rejuvenated, and I know that taking the time to notice my fiancé’s efforts goes a long way too.
This year, resolve to show gratitude to your partner more often. Whether you want to take time in the evenings to thank each other for something you did that day, or if you prefer to practice voicing your appreciation whenever you can, showing gratitude can strengthen your bond and make you both happier.
So go ahead, tell your honey how grateful you are that she emptied the dishwasher, tell your boyfriend how much you appreciate it when he makes you lunch. Give her a hug when he surprises you with a gift or give him a smooch when she picks up dinner.
It’s nice to appreciate your partner, and great to be appreciated.
2. Find hobbies that are all your own.
Sure, in an perfect world I’d do everything with my fiancé, we’d have all the same interests and spend all our time together. We’d be unbeatable tennis partners, perform in a two-person band (I’d play ukulele, he’d be on keyboard), and we’d have a TV show as a couple who remodel houses.
But in reality, no two people have all the same interests and, truth be told, there might be times when you don’t really want to spend time with your partner. I love my fiancé more than pizza, but sometimes I really want to do something by myself.
And that’s okay! Actually, it’s prefered. It’s healthy to spend some time without your beau and pursue your own interests or hobbies.
Maybe you want to take a woodshop class and perhaps your significant other wants to join a soccer league — perfect! Following your dreams will make you a happier person (and a better partner) and getting to do something all your own will allow you to bring something special to the relationship.
I like painting, and I love coming home from art class and showing my fiancé what I created. He’s really good with computers, and it always rocks my world when he fixes that darn internet.
So, this year, sit down with your partner and find different things you each want to do. Try to find activities that take place on the same night (so you aren’t missing two evenings of Netflix and chill together) and sign up for them. Are those book club meetings and monster truck fan club meet-ups on the same night? Excellent.
You’ll both learn something new, have fun, make friends, and at the end of the day, you’ll love telling each other all about your adventures.
3. Show an interest in your partner’s work and hobbies.
I know, I know, I just finished telling you about how awesome it is to have separate hobbies…but that doesn’t mean you can’t be interested in what your honey does with his or her time.
I love telling my fiancé about my day and about the people I talked to, and I know it means a lot to him when I show an interest in his work.
Sometimes I may feel my eyes glazing over (a little) when he talks about his very complicated job with all the marketing terms and fancy reports, but I try to get to know more about his work so I can learn more about what he goes through during the day.
4. Try to be a better listener.
This might seem obvious, but being a better listener can make your relationship so much smoother.
You’ve probably been there before: you start telling a story about what your Aunt Mabel did at lunch yesterday, and halfway through the part where she threw the salad at the waiter, your significant other looks up from a magazine and says “were you talking to me?”
Or maybe your significant other was talking about how his friend Joe was on Cake Boss. The story reminds you that you need to pick up flour from the store so you start to think about the grocery list, and before you know it, you missed the whole story.
It’s the worst.
This year, resolve to work on your listening skills together. It’s something that requires practice, so remind yourself to stay engaged in conversation and understand, not just hear, what your partner says.
In the meantime, it’s also a good idea to let your partner know when something you’re going to say is very important. I know it can be hard to focus on each other when there’s a lot going on, but sometimes you need to set aside time for talking (and listening).
When I have a problem and need advice (or just want to vent), I’ll ask my fiance for five minutes to listen to me talk. He’ll take a minute to finish that chapter in a book (or save his video game) and then focus on what I have to say.
I love this tactic because it allows your beau a chance to wrap up what they need to do and give you the attention they need, and it also sends a message to your SO that what you’re going to say is important.
It’s a good way to set up for communication success.
5. Make sure you are happy and healthy.
I have a lot of stress in my life right now: I work all day and go to grad school at night (just thinking about my schedule makes me tired). But in this day and age, a lot of people find themselves overworked or overstressed. Maybe you struggle with anxiety, haven’t been getting enough sleep, or maybe you’re mourning a death in the family.
A relationship isn’t strong without both parties feeling good, so this year, resolve to take care of yourself with some kick-ass self love.
Therapy is a great tool for a lot of people, sometimes you just need a stranger to talk to. Going to the gym is great for stress relief, and if all else fails, scheduling a massage can do wonders.
Taking the time to take care of yourself will make you a happier person, and a better partner.
6. Let the small stuff go.
Just like Elsa, sometimes you need to let things go. If your boyfriend didn’t change the toilet paper roll the 367th time you asked him to do it, he probably won’t change it on the 368th time.
My fiancé never throws things away. He’ll bring a candy bar wrapper within two feet of the trash can, but it won’t actually make it into the bin. Meanwhile, I leave water cups everywhere. At any point in the week you can find at least one cup in the living room, one on the patio, three on the nightstand, and zero in the kitchen cabinet. In the beginning, little things like that drove my fiancé and I bonkers, but eventually, we learned to live with each other’s habits.
The truth is, no couple is perfect. Nobody is truly made for each other or completely compatible. Sometimes the happiest couples are just the ones that let the small issues go so they can appreciate the big things that make them such a great pair.
Maybe your husband is the worst at sweeping the floor, but he’s also a great dad. You didn’t marry him for the clean floors. Let it go, and invest in a cleaning service.
7. Put your phone down.
I don’t mean to sound like a grandma right now, but it’s important to put your phone away… sometimes.
Imagine you’re at a restaurant with your love. You realize that you need to check your email, so you glance at your inbox and see an invitation to your cousin’s birthday party. You realize that, while you’re thinking about it, you should text him to see what he wants for a present. When you’re done texting him you see a message from your mom asking if you can pick up that box of old high school yearbooks.
By the time you put your phone down, all your food came, you had six diet cokes, the server dropped off the bill, and you’ve barely said two words to your partner.
Sometimes, you just need to put your phones away, and enjoy your time together. With such busy schedules and so many things to think about, it’s nice to have a meal where you and your beau can focus on each other.
Plan to have a phone-free meal once and awhile. If you only have time to go out to dinner once a week, make that the date where you put away your devices. You’ll be glad you spent that quality time together.
8. Try and find opportunities to volunteer together.
Lots of people make a New Year’s resolution to put in a couple hours at the soup kitchen or help plant some trees. But volunteering together doesn’t just help your community, it can help your relationship, too.
Every so often my fiancé and I will head over to our local food bank and help organize the donated food. It might not sound very romantic to spend a Saturday afternoon sorting through canned peas and boxes of macaroni and cheese, but we always have fun. We like spending the time together, and volunteering makes us feel good. It’s a far cry from the traditional dinner and a movie date night, and maybe that’s a good thing.
9. Spend time together in the kitchen.
Another popular New Year’s resolution is eating healthier. I make this resolution every year and it lasts about as long as it takes me to find a Taco Bell.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a food-based New Year’s resolution. One great idea is to resolve to make dinners together.
Making a meal together requires teamwork, communication, and coordination. Practicing skills like these can help you grow closer in your relationship. Making dinner at home can also save you money, and it could (brace yourselves) be a roundabout way of eating healthier too.
If you do this right, you’ll spend time together, save some cash, and maybe even cut down on calories all in one resolution. Win-win-win!
The new year is a great time to set goals and work on improving yourself, but with these resolutions, you can improve your relationship too. From learning to listen more closely to volunteering together, these resolutions will surely make your relationship even stronger. What a way to ring in the new year!
For more on setting good New Year’s resolutions for your relationship, check out Passionate Sex Every Day for The New Year—Here is How, Healthy Relationship, Healthy New Year… Here is How and 6 SEX New Year’s Resolutions for Couples.