As the year comes to a close, you start to think of all of the ways in which you are less than perfect, and how you can use the new year as a fresh start. Most people make New Year's resolutions related to health and fitness. But if your relationship needs more work than your abs, there are resolutions you can make if you want to be a better partner.
Even if you consider yourself to be a pretty awesome significant other, there are always little things that can be improved upon. Maybe you leave your socks on the bathroom floor, or scroll through your texts at the dinner table. It doesn't take as much effort as you may think to break these kinds of bad habits.
When making your relationship resolutions, follow the guidelines that clinical psychologist Dr. Robin Goodman recommended in Parents. She suggested making concrete, specific, and manageable resolutions. Vague resolutions are nearly impossible to keep. Don't just promise to be more considerate, be specific in the actions that you will perform that will make you a more considerate spouse.
Here are some resolutions that you can make this New Year that will help you become a better partner.
1. Be A Better Listener
"Remember, I have that thing tonight."
"That thing I told you about last week."
How often do you have this conversation? I bet it happens a lot. Between work, happy hours, and obligations to family and friends, your mind is so full that complete conversations go in one ear and out the other. Resolve to be not just a better listener, but a better remember-er. Write things down if necessary so you don't double-book, can remember that one thing your partner liked at the store, or the date of the next business trip without having to ask again and again.
If your partner is the one who doesn't seem to listen or remember, Woman's Day recommended that you ask for five minutes to talk so you both can focus on the subject at hand.
2. Be More Considerate
Consideration is one of the biggest gifts you can give your partner. Calling home if you are going to be late, filling the gas tank if it's running low, starting the coffee pot in the morning, or letting your partner sleep in late on a Saturday are all little ways to show consideration.
3. Express More Gratitude
Promise to say "thank you" more often. It's easy to start taking things for granted, especially if you both have designated household responsibilities. It may sound silly to say "thanks for taking out the trash," but wouldn't it be awesome to hear "thanks for putting away my laundry" or "the bathroom looks great, babe"? Gratitude and acknowledgment make partners want to do more for each other. Woman's Day suggested keeping a gratitude journal and once a week you can write down a few things that your partner did that you'd like to say "thank you" for.
4. Make Time For Your Partner
There is never enough time, but making time for your partner is essential. If it means pushing the laundry off one more day, turning off the TV, or sending the kids to their rooms a few minutes earlier than usual, promise to do what you can to maximize the time you have together.
5. Lend Them A Hand
I know you have enough on your plate, but one way to be a better partner is to give your partner a hand whenever you can. Working together means accomplishing your tasks more quickly and having more free time to spend together.
6. Prioritize Date Night
Every Monday we promise to plan a date night, and every Friday night we are eating take-out in front of the TV with the kids. Don't get me wrong, I love our Friday nights, but when I think back to the last time we went on a real date, it seems like a lifetime ago. Date nights are essential because you can talk about things you can't typically discuss with the kids around. You can splurge because you're a party of two instead of four or five (and you both deserve it). On date nights you get dressed up, which makes you feel more attractive, and it helps put you in the mood to be more intimate.
When you resolve to go on more date nights, Forbes recommended being specific so that you have a better chance of following through, for example, you can resolve to go on one date night per month and have one weekend getaway per year without the kids.
7. Focus On Intimacy
This is a really tough resolution for parents. You are tired, you may be co-sleeping, pregnant or nursing. Being intimate might be the very last thing on your mind, but it's important nonetheless. According to Today, a study by a social psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto-Mississauga Amy Muise found that the happiest couples have sex once a week. The study also found that more sex didn't increase happiness, but less sex did.
8. Surprise Your Partner
Make a resolution to surprise your partner (in a good way) more often this year. Bring home his favorite take-out or her favorite flowers. Clean out the garage or organize a shared space such as your closet or office. Buy concert tickets to see your partner's favorite band, or make dinner reservation. I will never forget the day my husband showed up with a Betsey Johnson dress he happened to see and like while shopping for work shoes. It was so unexpected that it still gives me butterflies.
9. Designate A Phone-Free Time
It's an important work email, the never-ending group text from the guys in his fantasy football league, a phone call from your mom, or a friend who wants to vent. You are always a buzz, ring, or chime away from being distracted when you should be spending time together. Resolve to designate a "no phone" time. Maybe it's after a certain time in the evening, Sunday afternoons, or while you're in the car together. Once you set it, stick to it.