With a new year just around the corner (where did 2019 go!?), you might be planning a roster of resolutions to welcome in a brand new decade. But although a fresh year is a great time to evaluate your own goals, it is also an opportunity to think about what you and your partner want the next 12 months to look like for your relationship.
If you’re hoping that January will usher in a whole new year of #relationshipgoals, then these ideas might spark some inspiration for resolutions that you can make together.
1. Have tech-free time together
Even if you and your partner are spending plenty of time together, you might be surprised to find how little of it you actually spend truly focused on each other. The prime culprit for these distractions? Our smartphones. In fact, most of us interact with our devices a staggering 2,617 times a day, leaving little time to give our loved ones our undivided attention.
Make an agreement with your partner to put your phones away for at least some of the time that you spend together. Without the distraction of WhatsApp group messages or the temptation to scroll through social media, you will have more time to truly listen to and engage with each other.
2. Try something new
Trying out new things can be a fun and exciting thing to do as a couple, whether it’s experimenting in the bedroom or taking a class together. But the time that you spend apart from your partner can be equally as important.
When you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to start deprioritizing yourself and to forget about how you can grow as a person, as well as a couple. Taking up a new hobby, planning a solo trip, or learning a new skill can give you a chance to focus on yourself and to ensure that you have activities that you enjoy outside of your relationship. If you and your partner both have your own interests that you are genuinely passionate about, you will always have something new to talk about and avoid falling into a trap of becoming overly dependent on one another.
3. Arrange relationship appraisals
When you fall into the rhythms of a relationship, it can be easy to forget that partnerships are constantly changing things. As your life evolves, with both of you changing as people and your priorities realigning, your relationship should change too.
Although appraisals might sound like they should be reserved for work, coming together at frequent intervals to renegotiate your relationship can be a great way to check in with each other. Consider agreeing on a set of talking points and questions that can ensure that both you and your partner are listened to and given the opportunity to voice any concerns. Try open-ended questions with a positive slant, such as “What do you think we can do to progress our relationship?” or “Where do you think that there is space to improve?”
Don’t forget to also include aspects of your relationship that make you happy. Talk about things that you might otherwise take for granted or forget to praise. You could list things that you have done for each other recently that made you feel proud or appreciated or ask about a recent time that reminded your partner of the strength of your relationship.
4. Make sex a priority
Although you and your partner might have been tearing each other’s clothes off when you first got together, sex tends to become less of a priority as your relationship lengthens. For many of us, the realities of life get in the way of having the kind of long and loud sex sessions that are the mainstay of many early relationships. But sex can be one of the most important and intimate parts of a relationship and should be treated as such.
Although scheduling in sex might sound a bit unsexy, it can also be a good way to ensure that you have the time to relax and enjoy yourself, rather than squeezing in a quickie when the kids are in bed or if there’s nothing on Netflix.
You should also remember that good sex isn’t always about what happens in the bedroom — instead of discussing the soccer scores over dinner, you could try communicating about your sex life. Talk about what you enjoy, what you would like to do more of, and any fantasies that you’d like to test out. This will help to ensure that you’re getting the most out of the experience when it comes to getting down to it and might even be a turn-on for you and your partner in the meantime.
5. Acknowledge the things you appreciate about each other
As time goes on, it can be easy to take your partner for granted. Whilst you might have once been singing their praises, it is easy to get to the point where you’re barely thanking them for taking out the trash.
Research from the Gottman Institute and Love Lab at the University of Washington found that one of the best markers of a long-lasting relationship is how often one partner acknowledges when the other does something positive, according to The Atlantic. This theory of the “culture of appreciation” suggests that if you regularly express gratitude, affection, and respect for your partner, you create a positive perspective within your relationship that prevents feelings of contempt arising later on. It suggests that the perfect formula for a healthy relationship relies on couples having five positive interactions for every negative interaction.
Although you don’t need to be keeping score, try to be mindful of the kinds of comments that you and your partner exchange. Are they negative as much or more often as they are positive? And how often do you praise or express your appreciation for your partner? Trying to reframe these interactions will help to ensure that you both feel loved and respected and strengthen your relationship.
6. Talk about the future
It’s important to know that you and your partner are heading in the right direction, and talking about the future can be a good way to do this. Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? How would you like your relationship to develop? What exciting plans can you make over the next year?
Talking about the future not only ensures that you want the same things, a crucial factor in the success of any relationship, but can also ignite your excitement about what lies ahead for you both. Being comfortable talking about your life together will also help you to feel secure that you see your relationship progressing and that you’ll be making New Year’s resolutions together for decades to come.