As the new year fast approaches, many of us are busy making a list of all the things we want to accomplish in 2023. But you shouldn't limit your planning to just your personal goals. Kalley Hartman, LMFT, a licensed therapist and the clinical director at Ocean Recovery in Newport Beach, California, tells Best Life that all couples can benefit from creating resolutions for their relationship as well.
"Even if you and your partner are in a healthy and happy relationship, there is always room for improvement," Hartman explains.
Making relationship resolutions gives both you and your significant other "the opportunity to talk about what you expect from each other, set goals together, and share how you are feeling," according to Hartman. As a result, your relationship is much more likely to grow in 2023 instead of crashing and burning. We consulted experts to determine the five New Year's resolutions you should consider making with your partner. Read on to learn what they advise to keep your love alive.
Focus on finding something new.
There is a key word you should pay attention to when creating New Year's resolutions: "new."
"Novelty is the spice that virtually all relationships crave yet so many lack," says Dan Rosenfeld, a social psychologist, dating expert, and founder of The Match Lab.
But as Colleen Wenner, LMHC, founder and clinic director of New Heights Counseling, explains, it's easy for couples to get stuck in a rut—especially if you and your significant other have been together for a while. To combat this, Wenner says that you should both be open to trying something new together in the new year.
"Whether it's a new restaurant, a new hobby or activity, or even just a change of scenery, it can help keep the relationship fresh and exciting," she says. "These new opportunities bring couples closer together and create deeper connections. It provides a much-needed break from the everyday routine."
Work on becoming a more unified front.
We're often told how essential it is for us to set healthy boundaries for ourselves, but it is is also something you should do as a couple too, according to Lisa Concepcion, a relationship expert and founder of LoveQuest Coaching.
"Saying yes too much? People pleasing? Taking on too much and feeling overwhelmed? Resolve to stand solid as a couple in your 'no,'" Concepcion says. "It is so important for couples to be a unified front and on the same page when dealing with family and friends."
For the long-term health of your relationship, Suzanne Degges-White, PhD, a licensed counselor with over 20 years of experience, says it is also important to stand as a unified front by spending more time with people who support your relationship and less with those that don't.
"Social support is always important to individual well-being and social support for a couple is essential, as well," she explains. "When you're with people who celebrate you as a couple, it enhances the sense of connection and belonging you will feel with your partner."
Set aside more quality time together.
You might get the chance to spend more time with your partner during the holidays, but when the new year rolls in, that quickly gets harder. With that in mind, you should be intentional about setting time aside for your partner in 2023, according to Marley Howard, LMFT, a licensed therapist with more than 12 years of experience.
"Spending quality time is essential in any relationship," Howard notes. "Set a goal to do more things as a couple. The two of you can always find ways to enjoy each other's company, whether completing day-to-day tasks or celebrating special occasions."
But when it comes to quality time, there should be an emphasis on quality. Kate MacLean, the resident dating expert for the Match Group dating app Plenty of Fish, says you and your partner should work on limiting phone time when you're together in order for this time to be more effective for your relationship.
"Making a conscious effort to put your phone away and be present with your partner is a great New Year's resolution for couples. Have a 'phone-free dinner' or practice keeping phones charging outside the bedroom," MacLean recommends. "This gives you more space to connect and talk without the digital distraction."
Commit to having more honest conversations.
The new year is the perfect time to create better communication habits with your partner—especially since that's the "foundation of a healthy, strong relationship," according to Neil Dutta, a relationship expert and the managing director of Angelic Diamonds. Dutta recommends facilitating open and honest conversations by setting a timer once a week to listen to your partner without interruptions or distractions.
"It's important to set aside dedicated time to talk honestly and openly with your partner, and to actively listen to what they have to say," he explains. "This will build trust and help your partner feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings."
Improving communication can also help you "keep the relationship free of resentments" that could cause it to end, according to Nancy Landrum, a relationship coach and creator of Millionaire Marriage Club.
"Resentments brew in a pot of feeling unheard or feeling misunderstood," Landrum says. "Make an intention to learn how to talk about anything without fighting. A skilled discussion is where you take respectful turns with speaking and listening until you both have said what is needed and been heard by your partner. Only discuss one issue at a time and take turns talking and listening about that one issue until it is resolved."
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Incorporate regular appreciation into the relationship.
As part of your New Year's resolutions, you and your partner need to "make a regular habit of expressing your appreciation for each other," says Rosenfeld. He adds, "Each of you can do this casually by acknowledging the small things you do for one another on a daily basis, or to be more structured about it, go ahead and make a list of at least three things your partner has said or done for you that have made you feel most loved by them; then share your list with your partner."
In fact, research has found that couples who show appreciation and gratitude for each other regularly are "more satisfied with their relationships, feel closer to each other, and are more likely to stay together," according to Dutta.
"Try sharing something that you really appreciate or love about your partner at the beginning or the end of the day," he recommends. "Alternatively, you could both make a note of one thing you are grateful for each day and share those with each other at the end of the week."