3 Relationship Resolutions to Reconnect with your Partner in the New Year

By Rachel D. Miller MA, AMFT

It’s that time of year again. Television, radio, and social media are plastered with ads for gyms, weight loss programs, dating sites, and a myriad of products to help you quit whatever bad habit you have resolved to give up this year.

“New year, new you!” has been January’s motivational mantra for decades. For those in committed relationships, this may not be the best approach to New Year’s resolutions. As Dr. Sue Johnson, developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), points out in her book Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships, “Being the “best you can be” is really only possible when you are deeply connected to another. Splendid isolation is for planets, not people.”

New Year’s resolutions tend to focus on individual goals, that many abandon before the end of January. Why not make this the year that you add relationship resolutions to your annual list? Ensuring a safe, loving, deep connection with your partner, may just be the thing you need to bring out the best in yourself in the coming year. Here a few suggestions to get you started.

1.     Start couples therapy. Therapy isn’t just for times of crisis. It’s actually a great way to take a proactive approach to your relationship and strengthen your connection.

2.     Refocus on prioritizing, improving, or expanding your sex life. A great sex life is an integral part of a satisfying relationship, but it rarely happens spontaneously, or without intent. Fun ways to do this might include attending a class or workshop at your local adult novelty store, setting up weekly sex dates (yes, planed sexual encounters can still be fun and satisfying), or exploring erotic literature or mutually pleasurable porn together.

3.     Create a book club with your partner. Whether you choose books on relationships, sex, or just share the latest fiction best sellers, reading the same book promotes intentional, planned conversations that do not revolve around things like bills, chores, kids, or work. Some of my personal favorites, if you need a place to start are:

·      Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson

·      The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman

·      Come as you are by Emily Nagoski, Phd

·      The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert by John Gottman, PhD & Nan Silver

·      Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

·      Attached by Amir Levine, MD & Rachel S. F. Heller, MA

Sharing experiences, meaningful conversations, and physical intimacy create opportunities for connection and closeness. When we feel securely attached to our partners, and our relationships becomes our safe space, we are better equipped to handle the stresses and challenges life will undoubtedly throw our way, and become our best selves. Make this year different. Focus your energy on a “new us” to help you be successful in your quest for a “new you.”

 

New Years Resolutions

By Sasha Taskier, AMFT

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.
— Melody Beattie

As the New Year approaches, I keep thinking about sitting down to write a lofty list of resolutions and intentions for 2017. The list sometimes feels endless: I want to break my sugar addiction. I want to heal relationships in my life that have gone unattended, or that have had conflict. I want to expand my gratitude practice. I want to find creative ways to give to causes I care about … I could go on and on about ways I want to feel better and be better in 2017.

People usually fall into two ‘camps’ of making resolutions: those who love to make lists, set goals and who find resolutions to be useful and empowering and those who feel like resolutions are a total waste of time, and usually set them up for disappointment or failure. (Of course, there is the secret third camp, those of us who are so exhausted from the year and so busy during the holiday season that the idea of sitting down to think about New Years resolutions is just not going to happen.)  

There is no denying that there is immense power in setting intentions. You can read about it in: ‘the power of your mind and setting intentions’ and ‘five steps to setting powerful intentions’. And, while I believe there is greatness in striving to be a better version of ones self, sometimes we’re not quite ready when the New Year rolls around. In fact, certain neuroscience research suggests that spreading out resolutions over time is the best recipe for success. No need to do it all at once!

A few tips for achieving your goals and making them more meaningful–

1.     Think about what you need more of this year. Talk about it with your therapist, your spouse and your friends. What brings you joy? What brings you peace? What combats your depression and/or anxiety? What is something you’ve wanted to tackle but haven’t gotten to yet? Start to make a list that serves you.

2.     Be specific with your goals. What does ‘getting in shape’ mean to you? What does it mean to ‘be healthier’? Choose specific things that you can stick to – like, practicing yoga twice a week, or finishing 3 water bottles every day.

3.     Measure progress. Perhaps this means writing down your progress in a journal, tracking it in an app, or creating milestones that you can use to track your progress. This feedback loop, hopefully, can act as a source of motivation.

4.     Share your intentions. Holding yourself accountable, in a more public way doesn’t mean you have to shout from the rooftops. You can share it with your friends, family, and/or therapist – and ask them to help support you in achieving a specific goal.

5.     Be patient and kind to yourself. This is hard stuff. We are all mere mortals. Be gentle, and remember that progress is not always a straight line, it can be forward, backwards and zig zagged.

There is a very tricky balancing act between pushing yourself to be better each year and being able to be gentle with yourself and remember, ‘I am enough – no matter what I do or don’t accomplish this year, I am enough.’ At the end of the day, no matter how much we achieve, if there isn’t some self-love attached to that self-motivation, it’s all for naught. (I love this manifesto by Jennifer Pastiloff)

So, to those of us who feel ready to tackle our intentions before the New Year, have at it! To those of us who set intentions and then slip up on the second day of the year, it’s ok. Mistakes do not mean that your intentions no longer count, or that you’ve failed. Keep going. And, to those of us just hanging on by a thread at the end of 2016: take a break; enjoy the holidays, catch up on your sleep, and reclaim your self-care. There is no reason you have to write your resolutions before January 1st, 2017. There is no rule that says you cannot write resolutions (or re-write them) in February, March, April, May, June, …or any other month of the year for that matter.

Perhaps you can keep this proverb in your back pocket and remember:

today is the first day of the rest of your life’ (Anonymous)

With that, wishing you a new year filled with motivation, love, care and peace.

Here are a few articles for inspiration for getting started & additional resources:

Self-compassion

Daily Resolutions

Ideas for resolutions

Resolutions from real people