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As we approach a new year and reflect on 2021, there’s no better time to take your relationship to the next level by implementing healthy relationship habits and resolutions.
Regardless of how you are feeling about your relationship and whether you are feeling more satisfied or dissatisfied at the moment, know there is a lot you can do to make your relationship more rewarding.
Here are eight relationship resolutions for 2022 and beyond:
Articulating how thankful you are for your partner is an important part of a healthy relationship. It helps your partner feel good while ensuring you don’t take your partner for granted. Who doesn’t want to feel valued, appreciated and noticed? In fact, research points to many benefits of gratitude.
When you recognize the things your partner does for you and the joy your relationship brings, you allow yourself to be vulnerable and increase your connection.
In the new year, commit to expressing gratitude on a daily basis and say “thank you.” Acknowledge the many things your partner does to support you, take care of the household, and be there for you during challenging times, among other things.
It’s important to be mindful of how you communicate to your partner. This includes your general tone, how you bring up issues of concern or conflict, how you respond to your partner’s feedback, your speaking and listening skills, and the language you use.
You can start by regularly checking in with each other to see how the relationship feels and what may or may not be working. If your partner brings up concerns and you feel yourself getting triggered or defensive, remember to listen calmly, and avoid interrupting to defend yourself. You are both allowed to have concerns or issues you’d like to improve without one person being right and the other person being wrong.
Work with your partner to address how you both feel and how you can resolve or navigate any conflict. Be honest about how you feel and withhold assigning blame by using “I” statements. If things are getting tense, you can always ask for a break or time out before you come back together to resolve conflict.
If you don’t address things effectively and quickly, little things can become big problems. So commit to not turning molehills into mountains through direct communication and patience.
Keep in mind that no one is perfect. Everyone has flaws (even with the best of intentions), so try not to give your partner a hard time. Along with expressing gratitude and addressing concerns directly, remember that everyone wants to be accepted and not criticized over every little thing.
Approaching conflict from the perspective of being teammates versus enemies will make any inevitable conflict easier to manage. When you perceive your partner as your opposition, you are less likely to fight fair (and use the communication tips in the above bullets).
In a healthy relationship, even in the challenging moments, you are not only lovers, but friends and teammates who want the best for each other. So it’s important to view your partner in a positive light even during conflict.
Life still looks and feels far from normal thanks to the ongoing pandemic and the latest Omicron variant, but that doesn’t mean your relationship has to continuously suffer. If you live in a state experiencing cold wintery weather and don’t feel comfortable dining indoors, make an effort to connect with your partner through in-home or outdoor dates. If you feel like your relationship is getting stale or boring, there is no better time than now to spice things up and plan activities to promote more romance, passion, and excitement.
Try an at-home movie or game night, hiking date, outdoor brewery date, or something similar. Remember that being in a stable and healthy relationship doesn’t mean you don’t have to put in effort. It’s a great feeling to be able to relax in a relationship and just be yourself, but it’s also important to put in energy toward connecting more deeply with one another and having fun!
If you expect your partner to be a mind reader and know exactly how you feel and what you need, you are going to be disappointed and resentful. This is also an unfair expectation and faulty thinking pattern that is bound to be problematic in your relationship. Set a resolution to speak up about your needs and feelings and let go of the assumption that your partner should know exactly what you want. This means being very specific about how you are feeling and how you’d like to be supported.
For example, if you had a challenging meeting with your boss and need support from your partner, don’t assume your partner knows what you need. Say something like, “I had a really hard meeting with my boss and I’d really like to tell you what happened. Is now a good time?” or “I am feeling really stressed out about work and I am going to take a nice warm bath. Can we talk over a glass of wine later?” Be specific and genuine while advocating for your needs even if it feels vulnerable.
Don’t rely on your partner to be your everything. If you are relying on your partner to make you happy and fix every issue that arises, you are approaching your relationship with unrealistic expectations.
That’s why it’s essential for you to give to your relationship AND to yourself, and encourage your partner to do the same. In the new year, commit to healthy habits such as adequate sleep, rest, and physical activity, eating well, spending time being social (outside of your relationship) and taking part in activities that feed your soul.
If the pandemic or the weather is creating barriers, connect with loved ones virtually and keep up with your hobbies. While your relationship should bring you contentment and connection, it’s also helpful to have a sense of self outside of your relationship.
Some couples find their relationships can enter into occasional ruts when conversation topics become mundane and primarily task-focused. It makes sense that couples may not feel as connected when deep topics aren’t explored and shared.
While it’s easy to get stuck on to-do lists, scheduling logistics, and brief surface level “how was your day?” conversations, put in the effort to connect more deeply through a wide range of topics. This includes sharing your hopes, dreams, values, needs, and thoughts with one another and continuing to exhibit vulnerability. It also means spending time talking and not simply watching TV together or sitting next to each other playing on your phones.
You and your partner can start the year off right by tuning into gratitude, communicating effectively, honestly, and directly, having fun together, and connecting on a deeper level. You can also enhance your relationship through your own expectations and healthy habits. Cheers to healthy and satisfying relationships in 2022!