For many of us, our romantic relationships are one of the most central part of our lives. When things are going well, they are a source of total joy; but when they’re not, our relationships can bring about heartache. Though ultimately, our happiness really depends on how we handle our relationships, and how we treat ourselves.
There are probably things we have done or said in our relationships this year that have made things a little more tough than we’d like. The good news is that we can change — and what better time to reflect and set intentions for a better relationship than the end of the year?
If you want this year to be one in which you have the best love life possible, consider making these relationship resolutions:
1. Look at your relationship with clear eyes.
In reality, not all romantic relationships are worth maintaining. So, start by taking an objective look at your current relationship. Is your partner abusive? Disrespectful? Overly jealous? Are you two codependent? Can you be your authentic self with your partner? Do you two bring out the best in one another?
As you reflect on these questions, determine if you should stay. Sometimes the best things you can do for your love life is to move on to greener pastures, whether that means taking some time to work on yourself, or to look for someone who will love you in the way you deserve.
2. Start with your own happiness.
A lot of people are misguided in their belief that they will instantly become happier once they meet Mr. or Ms. Right. In reality, research shows that people who are happier in the first place tend to be more satisfied with their long-term relationships. So, resolve to do things that bring you joy, whether it is a favorite hobby, maintaining a gratitude journal, or having a regularly scheduled night out with friends. Doing so will allow you to bring your best self to your relationship.
3. Do thrilling things with your partner.
Due to a process called habituation, we tend to adapt and become accustomed to unchanging conditions in our lives. (That’s why dinner and a movie with your partner might be enchanting as a first date, but becomes downright boring when done for the umpteenth time 2 years later). However, there is hope!
A research study showed that couples who engaged in activities they described as “exciting” reported more marital satisfaction than those who shared experiences they described as “pleasant.” In addition, novel activities flood the brain’s reward circuits, creating an experience that brings you both more pleasure. So, to give your relationship a boost, resolve to ramp it up and try something new!
4. Learn your partner’s love language.
Instead of the golden rule, I like the platinum rule — “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” And, according to Dr. Gary Chapman (particularly his book The Five Love Languages) you and your partner may differ in terms of the ways that you prefer to receive love.
So, resolve to determine whether your partner prefers physical touch, acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, or words of affirmation, and be intentional about showing love in the way he or she prefers. And, don’t forget to let your partner know your love language so you can have the favor returned!
5. Avoid the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
What the heck are those? Well, relationship expert Dr. John Gottman has identified four behaviors that are the most detrimental to relationships: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. If you want to improve your relationship, resolve to dump these behaviors and find constructive ways to communicate.
6. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness, or being intentional about staying in the present moment, is associated with greater relationship satisfaction, as it allows you to savor the positive and be attentive to your partner. Research also shows that mindful people experience less emotional stress during romantic conflicts and engage in better communication overall.
So, if you don’t yet have a regular mindfulness practice, resolve to develop one this year. It will have a positive impact on your relationship (and a host of other areas in your life).
7. Make the most of good news.
Research shows that how we respond to our partner’s good news can help or hurt intimacy. Resolve to show an active interest, support, and encouragement when your partner is proudly sharing something with you. It will deepen your connection and bring both of you greater happiness.
8. Touch your partner every day.
From the time we are born, we are meant to be touched. Touch is linked with feelings of safety, trust, and support, andindividuals who receive more physical affection report feeling more positively about their relationship and their partner. So, resolve to kiss, cuddle, hug, and squeeze to your heart’s content every single day!