Every New Year presents us with a fresh opportunity to refocus our intentions for the upcoming months, as well as to make changes to those aspects of our lives that have not been fully satisfying for us. Oftentimes, even despite our initial determination, we get caught in the business of everyday life and fail to nurture our connection with those we love and care for.
I’d like to share a few simple practices to help you maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse, partner, or loved one. My hope is that with these various “instruments,” you can start creating a toolkit that can serve to achieve greater intimacy, increase communication, and improve the quality of your physical and emotional bonds.
I hope you can make the time to do some (or all) of these, as the more you implement them, the more likely you are to feel connected.
1. Come up with traditions around holidays, birthdays, or special occasions; these should be specific to this relationship and enjoyable by both parties. For example, knitting each other scarves at the beginning of winter; having a birthday picnic, participating in a yearly race together.
2. Put aside about 10 mins each day to do a “check in” with each other. I recommend taking turns (3-5) minutes each, telling your loved one relevant experiences or observations from the day. When you are done, it is the other person’s turn. Very important: remember that there is no responding or interrupting, only listening.
3. Have a date night at least once per week. Just the 2 of you- make it something fun, enjoyable, and not so expensive that it becomes stressful.
4. Individually, keep a “gratitude journal.” Either at the beginning or at the end of each day, write down something you are grateful for; it can be as specific or as general as you wish. You do not necessarily have to share it with one another, but you may if you so desire.
5. Write a description of what you want your relationship to look like at the end of next year. If 2017 is transformational and it brings you everything you ever wanted in your marriage- how would things be different? Take a trip to the future and describe what you see/fee/experience in your ideal relationship. *This is to be done individually by each partner; you can choose to discuss your vision at any time- either now or in the future.
Lastly, enjoy one another! Remember what brought you together and the deep love that holds you. Speak up, let each other know what you need, and keep in mind that you are pretty terrible mind-readers ;)
Best Wishes for 2017!
Karyn Maczka, MA, MFTI