DR. HE SAID, DR. SHE SAID: Time for New Year’s relationships resolutionsHere comes the beginning of a New Year, and we see it as an opportunity for our readers to become proactive about making their relationships better. We believe that it is a good time to rejuvenate a marriage or relationship by paying attention to some very basic but necessary aspects of maintaining a deeper connection to your partner. Make an agreement with each other to consistently try these five things to make it a better year for your relationship:
Take a few minutes to make a daily face-to-face connection with your spouse. Whether your stress is about jobs or kids or to-do lists, connecting with your partner—even if you’re both tired at the end of a long day—can be a way to remind yourself that you’re not alone with it all. While talking to each other on the phone is also a way to connect, there is nothing like holding your significant other’s face in your hands and giving them your look of love.
Express appreciation more to each other verbally. A little bit of expressed appreciation goes a long way. We all want to feel acknowledged for what we do to help out, and saying or hearing “Thanks for taking out the garbage” or “Thanks for cooking dinner” or “Thanks for doing the laundry” makes even those mundane tasks more palatable.
Meet for 10 – 15 minutes once a week to discuss the coming week’s schedule. Start off the week being on the same page with each other by being aware of what is up ahead schedule-wise in your busy lives. This keeps the element of surprise to a minimum about family logistics, and it also is a way to keep the division of labor balanced between both of you. Make sure the monthly calendar also includes a balance of individual play time (for both of you), relationship play time, and family play time. Schedule a date night at least once, if not twice, a month and take turns planning the activity.
Clearly state your needs to each other. No mind reading! Many couples assume that—after knowing each other for some amount of time—they should automatically know what their partner needs and wants. It usually sounds something like this: “I shouldn’t have to tell you what I need. You should just know by now.” This is a huge mistake. There is no way one human being can know or anticipate what another human being needs and wants. It is much more important for both people to clearly tell each other what they expect from them. This is what builds trust. Trying to read someone else’s mind or expecting the other to read yours only breeds disappointment in the relationship.
Be more accountable for your actions. Follow through on every thing you commit to take care of. If you know you won’t be able to follow through on something, don’t commit to it! Stand up for who you are as a person, especially if you’ve made a mistake! This builds a deeper bond of trust with each other that is the best foundation upon which to build a healthy relationship.
These resolutions are great ways to keep the status quo of your relationship from devolving into stagnation. Assuming that a relationship will forever function well “the way it always has” does not allow it or the two people to grow. One of the reasons the divorce rate is so high is that people assume that the relationship they started out with should be enough to take them into the future. This rarely works. It’s much healthier for a relationship to grow and transform as you both grow and transform yourselves. Utilize the maturity you’ve both gained over the years to reshape your relationship into one that addresses the current needs you both have. In much the same way that a photograph taken of yourself five or ten years ago could no longer accurately depict who you are or what you need today, your approach to your relationship deserves a similar updating.
All Our Best,
Dr. He and Dr. She
Hanalei Vierra, Ph.D. (Dr. He) and M’Lissa Trent, Ph.D. (Dr. She) are a married couple who have worked together for over 15 years coaching troubled relationships to clearer communication, deeper intimacy, and healthier partnership.
See their web site at www.sandiegotherapists.com/conjoint.html For more information on Relationship Advice for Men, go to www.HowToKeepHer.com on the web, where you will also be able to purchase Dr. He and Dr. She’s new eBook entitled “Making Relationships Work”. Please email any questions to: DrHanalei@aol.com.
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