When it comes time to make a list of New Year’s resolutions, we often first think about how we can better ourselves, whether it’s hitting the gym more often or eating more veggies and less late-night pizza. But what doesn’t always top our list is how we can be better to the people in our life we care about most—especially our significant other.
Whether you’ve been with your partner for a couple years or the better part of a decade, there’s always time to commit to owning up to the aspects of the relationship where we may fall short. Maybe for you that’s being more patient when it comes to listening to your partner vent about work or remembering to remove the hair from the drain after your shower. To help inspire you to set relationship resolutions that you both can stick to, we asked Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, to share the ones she thinks are worth setting.
Check out the top 6 New Year’s resolutions for engaged couples!
Resolution: Appreciate each other more
Of course, you love and admire your significant other, but how often do you tell him or her that? It’s normal to neglect showing even the simplest forms of gratitude, but Bahar explains that doing so can do wonders for relationship. She suggests to, first, make an effort to have an awareness of what you might be grateful for in your soon-to-be spouse, and to then create a plan of sharing your gratitude daily. “It can be as small as ‘Thank you for turning on the front porch light before you go home,’” she says. “This helps redirect the mind on the healthy bonding and strengthening of the relationship to create more considerate actions on your fiancé’s part.”
Resolution: Be more open about your thoughts and feelings
Just because you and your partner have been together for some time and he or she might know you better than anyone else doesn’t mean that he or she can read your mind. “Couples often make the unfortunate mistake of assuming that, by handling daily tasks together, they fulfill the communication requirement for a relationship,” says Dr. Orbuch. “All couples need to have moments alone with each other to thoughtfully share goals, feelings and consider life and its meaning.” She suggests that one of your New Year’s resolutions should be to practice the 10-minute rule: Everyday for at least 10-minutes, talk together about something other than the day-to-day stuff like house chores or your plans for the weekend.
Resolution: Fight fair
It’s totally normal for couples to fight—married or not—and especially if you’re dealing with the stresses of wedding planning. But that’s no excuse to have yelling and screaming matches on the regular. One the best New Year’s resolution ideas is to be aware of how you and your partner handle conflict. “Some disagreements are inevitable and it doesn’t mean your relationship is in trouble, but don’t let your arguments turn into destructive conflicts,” says Dr. Orbuch. “Shouting, name calling and withdrawing from the conversation altogether are not constructive ways to manage conflict.” Instead, she suggests staying calm and trying to resolve disagreements, even if you agree to disagree.
Photo: Shaw Photography Co.
Resolution: Keep the intimacy alive
Although, from the outside, the engagement period seems like all sunshine and roses (and, some of the time, it is!), it certainly comes with its fair share of unsexy scenes. Whatever you do, Dr. Orbuch warns against blaming your relationship or each other for any loss of excitement you may feel. “Keep things fresh and gently change things often,” she says. “For example, do new and exciting things together, get away as a couple, hold hands, etc., as newness or novelty, and mystery or surprise can reignite the passion and excitement as you go forward in your marriage.”
Resolution: Don’t let annoyances fester
When you’ve been together a while, and especially if you already live together, little things that your partner does can get under your skin. It’s normal, but letting too many tiny things get to you can really drive a wedge in your relationship. Dr. Orbuch suggests making one of your New Year’s resolutions trying your hardest not to let small issues pile up until they become big problems. “Small things can work themselves out, but if the small stuff accumulates over time, it can become big and then it's much harder to unpack those issues,” she says. Instead, bring up things that bother you, but do it in a positive way. “You might say, ‘Honey, it feels really comforting to me when our house is tidy, and I feel stressed out when I come home to dishes in the sink and clothes all over the floor. Let's come up with a solution together.’”
Resolution: Laugh together more often
Don’t let the throes of wedding planning distract you from the number one reason you’re getting married in the first place: the love you have for each other. One of our favorite New Year’s resolution ideas is to think back to all of the wonderful times you’ve shared in your relationship. Chances are, many of them involved big smiles and laughter. Try your hardest to infuse more of that into your lives now, as an engaged couple. “Remember to get back in touch with the happy side of your relationship, as opposed to always focusing on the more serious side,” adds Dr. Orbuch. “Laughter together keeps your relationship stronger over time.”