As we begin a new year, it would be wise for us as individuals, as families, and as couples to make some relationship resolutions. We can start by asking ourselves, "What have I learned about myself and how I related this last year?" "What changes do I want to make in order to be healthier and to have healthier relationships?" The following are a few suggestions.
Make our relationship with our partner our top priority. Invest time and energy into the relationship. Put it above our children, our job, and everything else that demands our time and energy. We want our partner to know they are the most person in our lives.
Make time for intimacy talk with each other. So many couples have "maintenance" talk instead of intimate conversation. Examples of maintenance talk are: "What's on TV?" "What's for dinner?" "How was your day?" Intimacy talk is connecting emotionally by asking such questions as, "What was the high point of your day?" "What made you angry today?" We need to set a time to have this special conversation with our partner.
Since we will disappoint or hurt our partner - intentionally and unintentionally - it is important to practice forgiveness so that we do not drag resentments and distance into our new year. It would be wise to bring the resentments to the surface and make changes, if we can, and ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness has a spirit of accountability and a desire to make changes. Just saying, "I'm sorry," often has a message, "Get over it, this is the way I am. Learn to live with it because I am not changing."
Date nights are needed to keep the relationship alive and fun. A good suggestion is to take turns planning and implementing the date nights (though they don't always have to be at night). One week, one partner makes all the arrangements, such as reservations and securing a baby sitter. The next week the other partner does these tasks.
We want our partner and family to know how much we appreciate and value who they are and what they do. For the last two years, Karen and I have had a Blessing Jar. When we believe we have received a blessing, we write the blessing and date on a slip of paper and put it in the Blessing Jar. Then on New Year's Day, we open the jar and read how we have been blessed. Then we call the people who were involved in the blessing. In this way, we do not take for granted how blessed we are and we let people know they have made a difference in our lives. The benefit of being aware of our blessings and the people involved can best be found in the following statement: "A full and grateful heart is less likely to do wrong."
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700