New Year's Resolutions to Strengthen Your Relationship
New year, same old relationship — unless you want to step up your game. An amazing relationship doesn't happen by accident. It takes effort from both parties to continue growing together.
This new year, get off to the right start by making some resolutions together. These New Year's resolutions for couples are fun, challenging and guaranteed to help you break away from the status quo.
Try One New Thing Together Every Month
Remember when you first met? There was a spark, a sense of anticipation before every date. Part of that had to do with attraction, but the rest comes down to novelty. You didn't know each other yet. Everything about them was exciting and new. Now that you know each other, it takes a little more effort to keep things fresh.
An easy way to do this is by making a habit of trying new things together. Start the new year by making a list of six things you'd like to try together. Visit a museum you've never been to, try rock climbing, whatever! Cut the list into strips and add them to a jar. Every month, pick one to try on your next date night. If the activities are out of your comfort zone, even better. The novelty and adrenaline of trying something new will infuse your connection with a revamped dose of the unexpected.
Make Weekly Date Nights Mandatory
Even if you already live together, date nights are a requirement. Seriously, don't skip date nights. Relationships are like houseplants. Sure, they can tolerate a little neglect from time to time, but if you go on autopilot and forget to water them for long enough, wilting is inevitable. Regular date nights are a simple solution.
Ideally, go out somewhere. Pick a nice restaurant to try, pick up hot coffees and visit the botanic gardens, whatever floats your boat. Movie nights are fine too, but make sure at least some of your date includes time to talk without any distractions. Phones are not welcome at the table. If you stay home, go the extra mile to make it special. Set the table with the nice dishes. A date with the love of your life is a special occasion, even if it's just in your dining room.
Regardless of where your date nights take place, pick a schedule and stick with it. Put every date on your calendar. Make it sacred, because your relationship is only as serious as you take it.
Host an Honesty Hour
Opening up to your partner is scary. We've been there. Being blatantly honest feels like opening the door to rejection or gaslighting, but if you don't trust your partner enough to care about how you feel, why are you with them?
Be brave and schedule a monthly check in where you both lay everything out on the table. Nothing is off limits, from minor communication blips to deep-seated worries. It doesn't matter how insignificant or silly they seem. Being open with each other is the key to building a strong foundation of trust and a sense of safety.
Try making a ritual out of honest hour. Pour your favorite drinks and spend 15 minutes jotting down what's been getting under your skin and why. Avoid statements of blame. Focus instead on expressing yourself and exploring your own feelings. Then, share with your partner and have them repeat back what they gleaned from what was said. That way, you can clarify to help them fully understand where you're coming from. Afterwards, switch. To end honesty hour, share some positive affirmations to leave the session on a good note.
Come Up With Resolutions for Each Other
Feeling brave? List a few of your relationship frustrations on paper and circle the ones that are the most realistic for your partner to change. Get specific. Instead of "help out more around the house," specify "take out the trash every other night and put dirty towels and clothes in the hamper, not the floor."
It might not be fun to hear your partner's annoyances about how you operate, but if you're going to live happily together long term, don't sweep the little things that bug you under the rug.
It's so easy to make assumptions. We're all partly a product of our environment. Our past experiences color how we view our current interactions, including those with our partners. Challenge yourself not to jump to conclusions about why your partner said or did something and look deeper.
Take the time to ask your partner for their side. Don't accuse, ask. Take an open-minded, curious approach, assuming the best of them until proven otherwise. Their answers will probably surprise you. By the end of the year, you'll be in the habit of communicating clearly and openly.
Try Out Each Other's Hobbies
Unless you're dating your own clone, you each have unique interests. The relationship would be boring otherwise. It's good not to be exactly alike. That said, it's also fun to get to know each other on a new level by trying out your partner's favorite activities for yourself.
You'll get to see a side of them you didn't know and they'll get the opportunity to teach you something new. It's a fun way to get out of your comfort zone and bond in one go.
Make an Affirmation Jar
Life is busy and it's easy to overlook the little things. To make sure your partner doesn't ever feel taken for granted, make an affirmation jar for each of you. At least once a week, or, ideally, once a day, write a small note to recognize something you love about them.
Write about the way they dance in the kitchen while they're waiting for their coffee to brew, the way they wrinkle their nose up while they're lost in thought or the helpful little favors they do when they think you're not looking – no affirmation is too small. At the end of the year, read all the affirmations together for some major warm fuzzy feelings.
In every great relationship, both parties help each other to become the best versions of themselves. You don't need a six pack to impress each other, but making physical and emotional health a priority is crucial. After all, you want to grow old together and that's a lot easier if you take care of yourselves.
Make it fun by becoming gym buddies, taking a fitness class together or working out outside if the weather allows. Even if you don't want to sign up for a gym membership, make moving together a part of your daily routine. If all you can manage is walking the dog together some of the time, consider that a step in the right direction.
Have Monthly Brainstorming Sessions
Building on the point above, a relationship is the healthiest when partners work together to help each other grow. Once a month, sit down and write down your hopes, dreams and goals together. Frustrations are fair game too.
Then, go through them and help each other turn ideas into concrete plans. When you actually achieve your goals, you'll both feel good knowing that your success was a joint effort.
Spice Things Up
We'll leave this one up to your imagination, for the most part. Try something new to keep the passion alive at least once a month, if you catch our drift. It doesn't have to be anything scandalous unless you want it to be, of course.
It can be as simple as surprising each other with new outfits, having a massage night together or visiting an adult toy store. As long as you're creative, it's hard to stay bored for long.
Make Friends Together
Date nights are essential, but you can't be each other's entire social circle. You both likely have your own circles of friends, but try cultivating mutual friendships with other couples. There are apps for that, but you can also try meeting people through activities you enjoy, like hiking, dancing, wine-tasting, whatever!
It can feel awkward to put yourself out there and try making new friends as a grown adult, but it's worth the effort. Having a village is a gift and you have to start building it somewhere. Getting recognition and acceptance as a unit also helps bolster your connection.
Share Family Traditions and Create New Ones
Most of us grew up with certain household traditions, whether they were cultural, spiritual or just plain fun. Share your favorite traditions with each other and then pick and choose the ones you'd like to continue together.
Try making old traditions your own by putting a new spin on them, like adding a secret ingredient to your favorite family recipe, or kicking off game day with a lucky secret handshake. It doesn't matter what traditions you choose. The important part is that they're fun and all yours.
Cook for Each Other
If you're terrible in the kitchen, take heart. The point of cooking together isn't to earn a Michelin star. Taking turns preparing a meal for each other is more of an act of nourishment and care than anything else. Plus, it's fun.
Try cooking one meal for each other once a week. You'll get to explore each other's likes and dislikes in the processes. It's also fun to grocery shop together or hit the farmer's market. Snack on samples and savor the experience from start to finish. By the time the table is set, you'll have spent plenty of quality time together. The combination of a tasty meal and teamwork will lead to positive associations and a deeper sense of trust.
Cross Off Bucket List Items Together
This one is extra fun. Even if you're not aware of it, you probably have a list in the back of your head of things you're dying to do before you, well, die. Some of them are easier to cross off your list than others, but what better way to support each other than by helping each other achieve your dreams?
Start by jotting down bucket lists if you haven't already done so. Then, pick at least one item for each of you to check off together this year. The memory of sharing a once-in-a-lifetime experience will serve as a reminder of how much you contribute to each other's happiness.