We spend these last weeks of the year trying to set ourselves up for a great year. We talk about weight loss and career goals. We start planning and prepping and getting excited. If you’re like me you get obnoxiously excited about setting up your new planner. Well, Wednesdays are my relationship post day so here’s a question:
Do you have relationship resolutions?
Here are 5 Relationship Resolutions for a happy, healthy and romantic year:
Don’t focus on what’s “wrong”
This is hard but ultimately good for all your relationships (Yes, that means the friendships you value and even robust relationships with coworkers). When we focus on something we give it increasing power and significance. By focusing on the things that bother us, the things that upset us, any longer than necessary, we slowly let them define our relationship. We start to see the less attractive qualities as defining our partner or partners. We allow our friends tone known by what we don’t like, instead of why we’re friends in the first place. We create resentment.
When you find your mind constantly circling to something negative turn and face it, address it and mentally close that train of thought. If it keeps coming up remind yourself that it was dealt with. That’s really key, though, do turn and face it. It’s not useful to ignore and push away things that bother us. The key is to be able to calmly say to someone “Hey, this is something that’s bothering me but I value what we have and so I want to work on creating positivity.” In your own words, of course. This gives you both an opportunity to speak on the subject and hopefully make the right decisions to alleviate the irritation.
The sneaky truth about “thinking positive” is that it takes a lot more effort than we ever talk about. We say “think positive” all the time but we don’t talk about doing the work. Once you’ve been able to address what’s bothering you, give yourself permission to let it go and focus on what’s going well.
Remember to Date Each other
This is kind of the flip side of not focusing on whatever feels “wrong”. No matter where you are in your relationship – dating, living together, engaged, married – remember to date each other.
The thing about this advice is that it’s really just a reminder to think of each other and let yourself enjoy all the happiness, and infatuation that you felt in those early days of dating. I like to do this for Tom with really simple things. Like surprising him with mini cheesecakes I came across when I stopped to get an afternoon tea. it’s not a big fancy date night. It’s simply a little something that tells him he was on my mind, even in the middle of my day while he was at work.
As relationships get more serious it’s easy to let the infatuation evaporate because we feel like it doesn’t have a place in the conversations about bills, families, and daily life. But love – infatuation and unreasonable affection for one another – is what separates adults in a relationship from adults with a functional partnership.
My ex and I became a functional partnership without even realizing it. We let go of the flirtation and infatuation and let the day to day operation of our household become the only thing we ever talked about. We didn’t leave space for loving and sweet nothings. It was so subtle but a definite contributing factor to the death of our marriage.
Make time for Each Other
It doesn’t have to be like a “date”. Going out for dinner or to do things is nice. However, it’s not really about that, is it? It’s just about making time to make each other a priority.
Sometimes when we are going to be home, just having a regular night, we think of it as not having plans. We look for something else to do with that time. Somewhere else to be, someone else to see. We choose to go out with our friends or go to an event.
Sometimes we have to just see that open time in our schedule as booked. We have to enjoy that obligation-free time with each other and protect it from the incessant need to fill our calendar with “something else”.
This also means putting down the phone, switching from a show that takes all your focus so you don’t talk, and giving each other attention. The “how was your day” kind of attention. You don’t expect your job, your hobby or anything else to flourish without dedicated time so why would you expect this of your relationship?
Celebrate and Support Independence
Relationship advice tends to tell you how to be together. I want to remind you that you should also celebrate and support independence. Encourage each other to pursue hobbies and things that fuel your soul. In this, don’t make your partner feel you don’t notice their individual wins. It’s okay to say cheer them on without getting outright involved.
Be okay with the fact that there is happiness that isn’t shared. Be okay with your partner loving something that you don’t.
Let them talk to you about it and express their happiness without making them feel guilty for loving something that isn’t you. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in the bleachers, cheering like crazy – metaphorically speaking (Or not metaphorically, if it applies). You should be there, even if behind-the-scenes it’s not your thing.
Take the time to find your own hobbies and interests, too, and celebrate being a whole person who loves another whole person.
Never (Ever) Air your Dirty Laundry
My mother gave me some really great advice as a teenager. She told me that the reason I should never air the dirty laundry in my relationship is because I am in love with someone, so forgiveness is part of the deal but for all the friends and family I might vent to when I’m mad, that isn’t true.
I can go running to friends or my mom or whoever and tell them all about how upset a partner made me or some stupid thing they did. At the end of the day I’m going to go home and forgive my partner because that’s how relationships move foreword. Also, because I love my partner. Even when they tick me off I know the love is so much bigger than the moment we’re in and in the private moments between us that nobody ever sees we’ve built something that is so strong.
That person I vented to, though… anyone who saw the dirty laundry… they aren’t in the relationship. They don’t have any reason to forgive. I just make us look bad and my partners reputation isn’t fixed by my forgiveness.
Keep what happens behind closed doors right there behind closed doors.
What are your relationship resolutions?