You may have heard a thing or two about how marriage is hard work—which is something you might already know a thing or two about (though it doesn’t come close to compare to the hard work involved in wedding planning!). The truth is—relationships of any kind are not easy and marriage is far from the exception. As anyone who’s been married even a few months, let alone several decades, will tell you, it takes a lot of effort and commitment on both sides to reap the fruits of a happy marriage. That’s why there’s truly no better time like the present, while you’re in the midst of setting your New Year’s resolutions, to focus on the small and big ways you can improve your marriage each day.
Here are some expert-approved New Year’s resolutions that will set you both on the path to a long-term togetherness.
Express one appreciation towards each other each day
It might seem rather obvious—the importance of saying how much you appreciate each other on the reg—but experts say this is one of the first actions to fall off the bandwagon in unhappy marriages. The appreciation can be specific or general, but Dr. Rachel Needle, Psy.D, licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist, says telling your partner something you appreciate about them each day can lead to feeling appreciated, positive feelings and can foster connection.
Communicate and talk openly
Neglecting to tell your partner how you feel, even once in awhile, can lead to pent-up frustration and an overall lack of understanding (which can also be frustrating to deal with). Experts agree that communication is key, and trying to communicate more effectively with your partner is one of the best New Year’s resolutions you can make. “Be sure to communicate in a healthy way, even regarding issues that you don’t agree on (i.e. how to load the dishwasher or how to fold laundry),” says Dr. Needle. “Listen to your partner and do your best to understand their feelings.”
Plan time together
Connection doesn’t just happen or remain without some serious effort being put towards ensuring it’s still there. This is something you should be doing every day, says Dr. Needle. She suggests setting aside 10 minutes each day to talk and spend undistracted time together. “This time is for you to connect with your partner and talk about deeper topics or to continue to get to know your partner,” she adds. “What is most important is to just set aside time to spend together that is free of distraction.” This allows you and your partner to reconnect, enjoy being with each other and focus your attention just on each other.