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Most people choose their New Year’s resolutions based on what they want to improve about themselves. They may decide that they want to lose weight, save more money or stop smoking. Such goals are almost always individual goals. Sometimes, however, what really needs improving in the new year is not something you alone can correct. Your relationship might be struggling and need a little T.L.C., or you might simply want to focus on deepening an already happy relationship. In those cases, you cannot be the only one putting time and energy into your relationship. You need to have your significant other on board as well. To do that, you both need to articulate exactly what you are working toward and how you are going to do that. Once you two have decided on your goal, you can have fun living out the little steps you chose to follow and watching your relationship flourish. Here are a few little changes that can make a huge difference in your relationship.
Listen to understand, not respond.
How often do you listen to your partner talk and find that you are already crafting your reply to their statements in your head before they have ever finished speaking? This is a common habit, but it is a disaster in the making for any relationship. When your partner speaks, you need to listen in order to understand their point of view instead of simply using the time to prepare for the next time your mouth is moving. This is especially true when you are arguing with your significant other. If you do not try to understand where they are coming from, you will likely find yourselves having the same arguments over and over because neither of you has listened to the other well enough to be able to really address the issue. The odds are, you two do not even know what the actual issue is much less how to fix it.
Sincerely tell them how much they mean to you.
“I love you” is one of the most potent and important phrases in the English language. It is a declaration of sharing arguably the strongest and most enduring emotion in the world with another human being. Couples say those words to each other often, as they should, but the commonality of the words means that sometimes their power can be lost. If you really want to improve your relationship, take the time to tell your significant other exactly how much they mean to you. Do not give them a somewhat throwaway comment or rely on the words “I love you.” Instead, detail for your partner what exactly you love about them and why you fell for them. Rather than simply saying they make you laugh, explain how they manage to lift the weight of a horrible week off your shoulders with a single funny comment. Tell them that you are awed by their integrity and that it pushes you to be a better person. Be specific, and be sincere.
Laughter really is the best medicine. Focusing on having more funny moments together is a great way to improve your relationship with your significant other. Couples who have been interviewed about their long and successful relationships often cite laughter as one of the keys to the longevity of a marriage. Laughing with your partner relieves stress and gives you two memories and events to bond over. It can diffuse tension to make unpleasant discussions easier and stave off a potential fight as well as help both you and your partner avoid taking yourselves too seriously.
Return to childhood.
Sometimes the best solutions are those that are totally off the wall bizarre. As such, it may seem strange to think that one of the best ways to improve or deepen your relationship is to go back to when you were both children. Nonsexual intimacy, however, is one of the most important things to focus on in your relationship. Oddly enough, playing together like children can be one of the easiest ways to bring that intimacy back into your relationship or increase it. Building a blanket fort encourages both of you to be silly, keeps you focused on each other and makes it natural to begin discussing beloved childhood memories and other similarly important memories. Besides, who does not miss being able to be ridiculous without being told to grow up?
Find a faith.
“The couple that prays together, stays together.” It may sound like a marketing slogan for religious faith, but that does not make the statement any less true. Couples who are active in a religion are more satisfied and committed to each other than those who are not. This is true regardless of the faith the two of you practice. So, if you want to take a leap into a deeper relationship this year, you need to step into a wider world than the one you can see with your own two eyes.
Set guidelines for electronics.
Electronics are omnipresent in the modern world. They can do a lot of good things, but they are also wreaking havoc on people’s lives. They are interfering with sleep patterns, keeping children from learning how to handle social interactions and have created an entirely new breed of addiction, one that is almost impossible to escape because electronics are required for so many daily activities. Technology is also likely interfering with your own relationship. In fact, some people are citing issues with electronics, internet usage and social media as a reason for filing for divorce. To keep the specter of electronic misuse from haunting your relationship, set some basic guidelines about how to handle technology. Ban cell phone usage at the table or decide that social media cannot be accessed during date night. Only answer phone calls or texts after a certain time and leave posts and other notifications until morning. Most importantly, turn off your phones at night to avoid keeping each other awake all night.
What works for you and your partner will likely depend on your jobs and responsibilities as well as what you normally use your electronics for in daily life. Someone who does all of their banking online, after all, may need different guidelines than someone who still uses an old-fashioned flip-phone.
Spend more time together.
It sounds like common sense, but if you are serious about improving your relationship, you need to be there to improve it. Make it a point to spend more time with your significant other and insure that you are truly present during your special times together. Date night does your relationship no good if you are both still mentally at work or composing your to do lists. It is better to be present and spend an hour talking quietly with each other on the couch than to spend three hours on a romantic outing where neither of you are paying attention to the world around you.
If you want to improve your relationship, you need to make sure your significant other is on board with the plan. Otherwise, you will be unlikely to reach your goal of deepening or saving the relationship. Everything in a relationship requires two people. The change of the year listed on the calendar does not alter that fundamental truth.