This article isn’t going to save your marriage. It’s your willingness to change, adapt, and improve that will make the biggest difference in your life. There are marriages that can’t be salvaged, trust that cannot be repaired, and couples that just don’t work together. But by golly! If you’re hanging on for dear life or just looking for ways to strengthen your marriage, then read on! We’ve got 12 goals for the New Year that’ll change your heart, increase your happiness, and make 2018 a year to appreciate.
1) Cut Back On Television Time
For heaven’s sake, put down the remote! TV is a go-to for many of us after a long day of work and child-rearing. We close up shop for the night, tuck the kids into bed, and sink into the couch (with a bag of chips in hand). One, two, three episodes later and we haven’t spoken more than three words to our spouse or our self. If you cut back on tv time, what more could you accomplish in the day? You’ll find more time for self-reflection, spiritual study, home improvement projects, quality time with your partner, and more.
2) Give Social Media A Break
I’m sure many of you scoffed at this idea. But did you know that intelligent computer programmers and data analysts track your every move on social media sites? And their number one goal is to figure out how they can get you to stay on their sites longer. This is the simplest form of manipulation out there, folks. Sure, scouring the Internet is fun for a number of reasons. But extended social media use is contributing to climbing cases of depression among youth and adults alike. Take back control of your time, your opinions, and your self-worth by taking a break now and again from your favorite social apps.
3) Get Back To Dating
Oh, how easily the romance dissolves into nothing more than a business arrangement. Couples who maintain the spark in their marriage do so on purpose, not by happenstance. Carve out time in your schedule to have a regular date night – learn how to flirt again. Get back to your pre-marriage, dating roots with your partner. Rebuild your friendship. Rekindle the romance. Hint: if you swear you can’t find time in your schedule, refer back to tip #1.
4) Stop Waiting On Your Partner To Change
You have ZERO control over your partner’s thoughts and actions; and yet, many couples in crisis constantly aim to get their partner to make all the changes. It can be utterly maddening to “know” all the things they should be doing, yet not see him or her doing them. But do you know what you do have 100% control over? Yourself. Stop pointing fingers at your partner, completely. Look inward and acknowledge your strengths and your weakness – and get to work! Studies show that after 4 weeks of a changed behavior, your partner will begin to recognize the changes you’re making. Then after 8 weeks of your continued progress, your partner is likely to begin making positive changes on their own! 8 weeks will feel like an eternity. But put this theory to the test and you may be surprised.
5) Create A Habit Of Gratitude
You may have to really search for things, in the beginning, to be thankful for; but as you practice this skill, you will improve. With your improvement will come peace, happiness, and that satisfying feeling of having enough. Publicize your gratitude! Contribute to a family whiteboard or make a list on the fridge. Record the things you’re grateful for each day. If you feel comfortable, tell your spouse 3 things about them for which you are grateful for each day. Both men and women desire to feel appreciated by their partners! This simple act can often fulfill that desire.
6) Start Each Day With A Hug And A Kiss
Before climbing out of bed each morning, hold your partner close for 60 seconds. Embrace each other. Then kiss before leaving the bed. This simple act seems too good to be true but can greatly improve your relationship over time.
7) Find Time To Be Intimate
Amy Muise, an assistant professor of psychology at York University in Canada released a study where she found happy people/couples had sex an average of once per week. Couples that have been together for a long time struggle with this frequency for a number of reasons. But if you’re not interacting with your partner in the bedroom because you’re simply too tired or just not in the mood, cut it out! Pull up your britches (but really, take them off) and get to work.
Again, if you’re struggling to work a sex life into your hectic schedule, refer to tip #1.
8) Give Compliments
Look for ways you can compliment your spouse. After 8 weeks, we bet you’ll start hearing compliments returned! Regularly acknowledging things you like about your spouse will help you to appreciate them more. It will also let your spouse know that you notice the things they are doing and that there are things you like about them. In a healthy relationship, you should deliver 5 compliments to your partner for every negative critique. Unfortunately, many couples are spewing the opposite which causes a lot of resentment.
9) Find A New Job
Being stuck in a job we hate can lead to spewing our stress and displeasure onto our family members and friends. Maybe it’s time you update the old resume and see what else is out there. It’s never too late to make a career change, go back to school, or start our own business. Yes, changing careers is one of the top 20 most stressful things you can do in life. But it can sometimes be worth it.
10) Quit Faking It
It can be scary to admit that we don’t have our shit together. We see happy faces all over social media and compare our lives to these perfect looking people. Are we lesser people for having flaws? We measure our success against our neighbors, not knowing the difficulties they’ve faced or the handouts they’ve been given. If you are struggling in some realm of your life, ask for help. There is no shame in it. Connecting with others about the things that cause us stress and anxiety afford the opportunity for growth.
11) Get More Sleep
Sometimes the answer to our daily problems lies in the lack of sleep we’ve been getting. If you’re easily irritated or find yourself short of patience, take a step back and ask yourself if you’re taking care of your basic physical needs – sleep, diet, exercise, and water. Changing the way we fule and recharge our bodies can make a world of difference.
12) Set An Outrageous Goal
You can do this alone or with your partner, but give yourself something to work for that builds a better you. Train for a marathon, volunteer, climb a mountain, bike across North America, get your pilot’s license – you name it. If you set a goal together, you can encourage and praise each other along the way.
As we prepare to say goodbye to 2017, take time for serious reflection.
- What did you do wrong?
- What did you do right?
- What did you learn?
- What are you taking with you into 2018?
- What are you leaving behind?
Then get ready for another year full of ups and downs, success, disappointments, and the unexpected. We never know what life is going to give us. But we can choose to handle the hurdles with fear or strength.
Paige Gorman is a divorced and recently remarried Mormon. Her first husband’s adultery and abandonment seemed like something only possible in fiction to her as she became a single mother of two toddlers at only 26 years old. As time passed, she realized the events that took place in her life were common all across her social network. Close friends and casual acquaintances, hurting from similar trials, began reaching out for support as the details of her divorce went public. Paige continues to inspire others through her blog Blur of Blondes (http://www.blurofblondes.com/).