New Years Resolutions for Marriage
Don't Set Yourself Up For Disappointment
This article was originally published for New Years Day. The advice is true for every year, and for every day that we set goals for ourselves.
Resolutions for Your Marriage
I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year and wish for you that this year will be better than last year. We have to be careful taking on New Year resolutions as we often set ourselves up for disappointments and failures because we are too global in our intentions.
We tend to think of what we could improve and make better in our lives and try to change our habits and temperaments in a major way and all at once.
Make Marriage Goals Small, Concrete and Easily Attainable
Maybe your major goal is to improve your marriage or try to get back some of the love that you started with. Or, perhaps you want to become more physically active or spend more time with your family.
Most importantly, you can do it. You will find it easier to accomplish your goal if you set clearly defined behavioral changes for yourself.
I give suggestions below on how to break down your New Years resolutions into smaller steps that are easier to work with and give you more of a chance for success.
Choose Something That Can Become a Lasting Habit in your Marriage
Take on something that you will continue long past January 1st. When you break your major goal down into small and concrete mini-goals, your resolutions might be something like these:
Help Your Spouse On a Regular Basis & Make it a Commitment
- taking out the garbage before it's necessary
- doing a carpool
- giving your spouse a lift to the train station even if you have to get up earlier or go out of your way
- clearing the table after dinner
- reading a story to the children at bedtime
- bathing the children once a week
- Perhaps you could file while your partner pays the bills
Spend Quality Time with Your Spouse
- Establish a date night once a week or twice a month
- Take a walk together once a week
- Meet for lunch once a month or more often
- Resolve to give 1-5 compliments a day to your spouse
- Make sure that you say "thank you" once a day for something that you appreciate
- Communicate with your spouse every day with a phone call or an upbeat email
- Send a card just to say "I love you"
Be Creative With the Changes You Make
Don't be afraid to ask for feedback about what your spouse would appreciate the most, and don't be afraid to make guesses on your own. Maybe there is some hated job that you could help with that is a breeze for you to do. Brainstorm and find free or low-cost things to do if finances are an issue.
Don't make your changes predictable. For example, don't give a compliment exactly three times a day, or only at meals. Make your improvement more natural and unexpected.
Be Stingy With Criticism
If you have criticism, you don't "earn" the right to give it unless you give more compliments than criticisms as a minimum. Some people use a healthy ratio of 4:1 compliments to criticism. That is four or more compliments to one criticism.
Change Your Life With Just a Smile
Any change in behavior in a positive direction will help make positive changes in your life.
When I was visiting Milton Erickson, MD, one of the master therapists of the 20th century, he told the story of how a young woman changed her life by putting a smile on her face even though she didn't feel it. After a while the smile became a part of her in a genuine way and it changed her life. The trick is to make it a lasting change.
I hope some small suggestion here can influence your relationship in a good way.
Here's to a great year with positive changes for all of us! Best wishes on your journey to a wonderful marriage.