(An article referenced from the Better Marriages USA site By Dr. Karen Sherman)
As the new year is upon us, if you’re like most folks, you see this as a time to make some changes. All sorts of resolutions tend to be made about how to improve yourself, from weight loss to better self-care. These are all great idea, but as a relationship expert, I think it’s also an opportunity to take stock of your partnership and see if it needs some tweaking.
In reality, I know that most relationships get stuck in a rut from time to time. After all, there’s so much going on: ﬁnances, kids, job pressure, outside stress… well, life! If actively working on ﬁxing your trouble spots seems like a lot of work, you might wonder, “How can I possibly add one more thing to the list?”
The truth is, the health of your relationship is vital. By doing simple and small things, you can make sure it survives and thrives. And the best part is that you can do all of these things yourself, on your own time. Of course, since you’re already stressed to the max, I’ve got suggestions. Want to learn how to revitalize your relationship in the new year? Read on!
1. Initiate change
Though you don’t have the right to change your partner, the way you act will have an impact on the way your mate reacts. At any given moment, you have the power to change the way things are going between the two of you. Do something simple like raise your head and smile when he or she walks in the room. The message you’re sending is “You matter to me.” Something as little as this small gesture can make a big diﬀerence.
2. Use Technology
Since you likely send texts to friends, co-workers, and family throughout the day, why not send one to your mate while you’re at it? It won’t take lots of time to let him or her know you’re looking forward to reuniting that evening. This is the 2014 version of the notes you used to leave each other when you were ﬁrst dating and will have the same eﬀect. Remember how nice it felt to receive a note in a surprise place? An unexpected text can have the same eﬀect!
3. Date Night
The two of you really do deserve and need to spend time with each other. Even a little private time that’s inexpensive will do the trick. Here are a couple of concrete examples: Set up 15 minutes to either eat pizza by candlelight or put on music and dance. The whole idea is to make this time about the two of you ̶ no talking about problems, money, or kids. To make sure you keep the date, put it on your calendars like you would any other important event. (By the way, showing the kids that Mommy-Daddy time is an important part of a relationship is great too.)
4. Talk about your mate
Lots of research indicates that oﬀering support for your partner is important. It’s also good to show appreciation. An easy way to do both is to tell someone in earshot of your mate something really positive about your other half. This can be either a trait or something your partner did that impressed you. It will give your partner the warm fuzzies to feel like they hit a home run with you.
Though schedules are busy and it’s hard to add anything extra on to the list, be mindful of things your partner generally does ̶ and do it instead. This can be really easy: take out the garbage, do an errand, bring home a dessert when you’re at the supermarket anyway.
The bottom line is any change starts by being aware that something has to be diﬀerent. Though change can be hard, taking a small step can truly lead to the wonderful relationship you desire!
Wishing all of you the very best empowered relationship.
This article was published online at the Huﬃngton Post in the US on 21/12/2013.