If you’re finding that you make the same New Year’s resolution about your relationship year after year and fail, Debbi Carberry, a clinical social worker, offers twelve ways to set and maintain healthy changes that will help you to have the relationship you long for this year.
The fast pace at which we all live can often mean we pass our partner by. Making time to meaningfully connect with the people we love is critically important in a relationship. Many people feel disconnected from their partner for one reason or another. The important thing to remember is that it is possible to reconnect again. Make this a priority.
2. Increasing or improving intimacy
Every relationship goes through ebbs and flows with intimacy. If you are feeling that you and partner have lost the intimacy take comfort in the fact that many couples will experience a dry patch. Set your intention and book some quiet time together. The passion will usually return when you do.
3. Learn your partner's love language
Find out the love language you and your partner speak. Then make a real effort to speak the language they crave. This allows both of you to feel loved and connected and more willing to move toward each other.
4. Have fun and be more playful
Joy is often the first casualty in a busy, stressful life. It is important to resolve to have fun and enjoy your relationship. Put a few dates and activities in your diary. No matter what else is going on in your life DO NOT remove these. Making time to be playful can be a real boost to your relationship.
5. Remember why you got together in the first place
We all change. But the unique characteristics you first noticed in your partner, the very essence of what you fell in love with, is most likely still there, unchanged. Sometimes it just lays forgotten, covered up by money stress, parenting responsibilities, career focus, household chores and just plain exhaustion. Spend some time remembering why you both fell in love and some of your most connected happy memories.
6. Show your love
Expressing love looks different for all of us. If you feel that you are not told often enough that you are loved then think about all of the ways that your partner demonstrates their love for you each and every day.
Love is a verb. Express it in as many ways as you can. In your thoughts, words and your actions.
And remember that love doesn’t have to be a sweeping gesture. Showing love is about small acts every day that have huge significance for us and our partner.
7. Be affectionate
All human beings need to be touched. However we all have different levels of affection that we are comfortable with. Public displays of affection can include hand holding or touching your partners back or shoulder. Letting them know that you are there for them. In private giving a hug at the end of a difficult day or greeting each other with a kiss really can make a huge difference and of course let’s not forget intimate moments.
8. Make each other a priority
This can be challenging if you have children. My advice is to carve out a little time each day. Also aim for at least one time a month where the focus is just the two of you. Making time to prioritise your relationship pays off big time.
Work out what your core values are and take action every day to move you toward them
This is about prioritising you. It is important to love and accept who you are. After all, if you don’t love and know yourself, how can you expect your partner to? Take time to think about what you really value in your life. What is most important to you? Then take one action every day that aligns with that value.
9. Work on self-care, self-acceptance and self-compassion
All successful relationships start with how you treat yourself. Before you look outward for the reasons you’re struggling in your relationship, look inward. Ask yourself whether you accept yourself as you are. Do you have compassion for yourself? Do you spend time caring for yourself? The answers to these three questions are at the heart of rewiring your brain for better relationships.
10. Practice gratitude
A person who makes a conscious effort to practice gratitude is immeasurably happier than one who does not. Gratitude is a decision, as is Joy. Choose to be grateful. Make a concerted effort to mentally list just 3 things you are grateful for every morning, and again every evening. The discipline of deliberately practicing gratitude, of taking a few minutes to really think about the things you are grateful for, will improve all aspects of your life, including your relationship.
11. Make space for a date night – get creative if you have kids or money is tight
Date night is an excellent way to prioritise your partner. It can be customised to suite your circumstances and budget. Date night doesn’t need to be difficult, or even outside of your home if that’s not possible. It could be going out to the local bar, having breakfast together on a Sunday morning, getting a babysitter, arranging a babysitting swop with another couple, or just hiring a movie you’ve both wanted to see and holding hands on the couch while you watch it. The fact is that the date itself is not important; it’s the intention behind dating.
12. Fan each other’s flames – provide encouragement to your partner
Relationships are there to support and encourage us as individuals. If your partner is not encouraging you or supporting you, then it might be time for a chat to let them know how important that is.
Life can be pretty tough. Being in each other’s corner is essential. Our partner is our safe place where we take refuge from the harsh world and find our rest. Be that for your partner, and he or she will be that for you.
Debbi Carberry is a clinical social worker in private practice in Brisbane, Australia where she has specialised in relationships transformation for over 10 years. Debbi is the author of a short relationship guide “Is Your Approach to Relationships Healthy? 7 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself” and the creator of the groundbreaking 6 week online relationship course, “Rewiring your brain for better relationships” in which she teaches people all about their unique relationship. toolbox.