Monday, January 9, 2012

Making New Year's Resolutions for your Relationship

Two champagne glasses with a happy couple in the background.

        For many people, the start of a new year is a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, looking forward to the coming year. It's a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make, and the resolve to follow through on those changes. A new year guarantees a fresh start, an opportunity to leave the negative in the past, and to focus on the positive in the coming year. 

        According to a recent posting, popular New Year’s resolutions year after year include broad goals like eating healthier, quitting smoking, exercising more, and managing stress better. While these are all very important and respectable aspirations, they can be hard to achieve without careful planning. Before you overhaul your eating habits and exercise regiment, think about more specific aspects of your life that may require some extra attention this year. Have you been the best partner possible to your significant other over the past year? Even if you think you have been, you can always do more to strengthen your relationship. In today’s post, we would like to help you make attainable New Years resolutions for your relationship. 

        If you have been meaning to change something about your relationship, but just haven’t had the time to get around to it, now is the time. Remember, your relationship is constantly evolving as you and your partner spend more and more time with one another. Your individual likes and dislikes may change more than you think. Reassess the state of your relationship, paying particular attention to how you both felt about your relationship over the past year. What aspect of your relationship was most satisfying? Most frustrating? Were you sexually satisfied last year? If not, what would you like to see changed?
A happy couple toasts to the New Year.

        Communication is extremely important when discussing these topics, as feelings of discontent may elicit a defensive response. Take turns letting each other speak, uninterrupted. Once you have each had a chance to voice your opinions, respond to each other’s comments. Do not make targeted suggestive attacks like “I don’t like the way you…” or “You need to...” Instead, make the conversation about your relationship as a whole by using positive statements like “I think we could…” or “We need to...” When “you” is changed to “we,” the conversation involves both parties. Before making resolutions for your relationship, here are three tips to consider: 

  1. Set realistic expectations: Do your best to think about the things you'd like to change as well as what a realistic change would look like. If you and your partner have been struggling, don’t expect change to happen overnight. However, making a long-term commitment to each other is the first step in getting your relationship to where you want it to be. Talk to each other about where you want your relationship to be in two months, six months, and by the end of the year.
  2. Set both specific and holistic goals: Good resolutions focus on specific details as well as the bigger picture. While having a stronger relationship may be your ultimate goal, improving the way in which you communicate about your day at work or the way that you decide which TV show to watch at night make for specific goals that are extremely attainable. Relationships are already incredibly complex. Break your resolution down into smaller goals and it will seem a lot less daunting.
  3. Focus on the means, not just the ends: One of the best ways to set New Year's resolutions is to focus on the means of getting to where you want to be, not just focusing on where you want to be. Improving your relationship is a constant process. Enjoy the process of getting to know your partner on a more intimate level.
        Now that you’re prepared to make resolutions for your relationship, what exactly do you want to change? Here are five New Year’s resolutions from the Gottman Institute designed to improve the overall experience of your relationship, with an emphasis on improving your sexual happiness and healthiness. Choose some of these or develop some of your own. Whatever your decision, what is most important is that you are both equally committed to achieving the same end goal.

  • Make it a priority in 2012 to talk openly about sex with your partner. Intimate conversation builds emotional connection, leading to more passion in your lovemaking.
  • Make it a priority in 2012 to communicate more openly with your partner about your sexual needs and desires, specifically the way in which you communicate during sexual intercourse.
  • Make it a priority in 2012 to pay more attention to your partner’s bids for emotional connection.
  • Make it a priority in 2012 to develop love maps of your partner’s erotic inner world. What really sends them through the roof?
  • Make it a priority in 2012 to develop effective strategies for initiating and refusing sex so that neither partner feels rejected. 

All for now,
M. Fulwiler
TGI Staff

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