New Year’s resolutions can be a tricky thing for married couples.
For some couples, waiting for January to make strides in their relationship feels contrived and antiquated. So, they prefer to envision goals and set intentions whenever the opportunity strikes, no matter the time of year.
Others embrace New Years as a golden opportunity to wave sayonara to the holidays and start clean. Nonetheless, if the turn of the year energizes you to consciously empower your marriage, these seven goals should be at the top of your list.
1. Talk Money
This is first for a reason. It doesn’t matter if you’ve newly wedded or celebrated double-digit anniversaries. Getting on the same page with money is foundational to any successful marriage. Conversely, the data points to money problems as the common culprit for divorce.
So how do you talk about money this upcoming year? Ask each other questions. Here are a few to kick things off:
- How do you prioritize spending? What do you consider necessities, niceties, and splurges?
- If you had a sudden reduction in income, what are some changes you would make?
- How much debt do you feel comfortable taking on? For what purpose?
- Is there a number that feels like “enough” money individually or jointly as a household?
- What is your biggest financial goal?
- What is your biggest financial fear?
- What do you consider joint expenses, and what do you consider personal expenses?
- Are there certain purchases, regardless of the price tag, that you feel should be jointly discussed?
- Do either of you plan on taking time off work or reducing your hours to care for your children?
Revisiting questions like these every year (or quarter) ensures that you and your partner understand each other’s financial mindset and situation, even as they change.
These conversations are especially important in preparing for a big purchase, getting a postnup, relocating, or going through a major life event (like having a child).
Here’s a helpful guide containing questions designed for premarital couples but can also help married couples navigate through financial talks.
2. Date Each Other
Marriage touts the benefits of stability and routine. But it’s imperative to avoid falling into monotony.
Stamp the New Year with newness. Set aside time for date nights to spark exploration, partake in culinary adventures, sample the unfamiliar, and venture into new experiences. It’s a great recipe for married couples to continue to develop a strong, intimate relationship by:
- Learning about each other
- Infusing romance
- Taking risks together
- Being playful
- Providing much-needed time away from the demands of work and parenting
3. Don’t Compromise
In the new year ahead, you and your partner will surely reach an impasse in an argument. Compromise is not the answer here.
In a nutshell, compromise implies that one of you is giving something up to appease the other. However, this simply means that you haven’t spent enough time talking and coming up with a real solution. So, instead of compromising, follow these tips:
- Don’t just state what you want; Talk about why you want something (e.g., you want a bigger home to start a family).
- Be completely honest about how you feel (e.g., you’re afraid that spending money on a house will put you at financial risk).
- Find the win-win (e.g., start saving now and plan to buy a house when you both feel ready)
Ultimately, compromise often leads to one person “winning” or both people feeling shortchanged. Get around this by having deep conversations and coming up with creative ways for both of you to feel good about the decision.
4. Grow Individually and Together
New Year’s resolutions apply to you and your partner as individuals. So if you’re looking to institute a new nutrition plan, take a dance class, or join a softball league, it’s okay if you want to do it on your own!
Establishing autonomy is a healthy practice. It allows you to make gains as an individual so that you are that much stronger together as a married couple. However, be mindful of two potential sticking points:
- You can invite your spouse if you truly want to, but don’t feel obligated. If you face an objection, talk through why they feel left out.
- This is not a way to hide or keep secrets. Even when you venture out onto your own, let your partner know what you’re doing. Maintain trust and ensure your safety as you build your autonomy.
5. Create New Traditions
Every year is spotted with holidays and familiar traditions with family and friends. This year, embrace the chance to create traditions that are uniquely your own. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help come up with something new to celebrate:
- What is an activity that you two love doing together the most? (e.g., an annual hike, escape rooms, taking photos)
- What is your favorite season, and what activities do you enjoy during that season? (e.g., Summer: finding new beaches; Fall: visiting farms; Winter: skiing; Spring: flower picking)
- Is there another couple or group of friends that you enjoy spending time with? (e.g., Friendsgiving, road trips, game nights)
- Have your kids expressed things they love to do that can become a tradition? (e.g., theme park trips, kid-friendly conventions)
- Are there opportunities to learn together? (e.g., cooking classes, conferences, dance classes)
6. Express Gratitude (Daily)
The power of gratitude lies in its ability to transform your mind from constantly wanting to feel that you have enough.
This New Year, see if your partner is willing to participate in actively expressing gratitude on a daily basis. Why daily? It’s a surefire way to keep life in balance. On one side, challenges are sure to come up each and every day. However, if you meet these challenges with things you’re grateful for, life doesn’t feel so one-sided.
You can write a list of 5 things you’re grateful for and either keep them to yourself or share them with your partner. Stay consistent, and you’ll see how this simple act can generate powerful results for both of you.
7. Establish Screen-Free Time
With screens everywhere, it can be hard to focus on each other.
Whether it’s turning off the TV during dinner or putting away phones when you’re spending time together, having screen-free time can help marriage communication and intimacy.
You’re sending the message that your partner is more important than anything else happening on a screen. How many hours are wasted looking at things on our phones that provide little to no value in our lives and relationships?
If you find something impactful to watch, wait to watch it when you’re not together. Honor the time with your spouse this upcoming year and avoid the ubiquitous trap of looking down at your phone to replace the quiet moments in your lives.
Final Thoughts: It’s Not About Perfection
We don’t always keep our intentions because things change, we change, and such is life. But, the real value comes from having conversations around mindful action and willingness to continue growing. It signals your commitment, your consciousness, and your love.
Set yourself and your partner up for success by openly and honestly discussing your individual and collective lives. Discussing these New Year’s goals up front is the first step to actually making them happen.