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The beginning of a new year is a natural, but often overlooked opportunity for couples to come together, inspire each other and renew excitement about their shared dreams.
You’ve probably set individual resolutions many times, but if you’ve neglected to set goals as a couple, now’s the time to start! To make lasting changes, here are some guidelines to keep in mind.
MAKE IT REAL
Resolutions aren’t about magic. They’re about setting a goal, getting really clear on the steps necessary to achieve it and then consistently taking those steps. Announce to your partner, “Hey, I’ve got a fun challenge for us. Let’s take 15 minutes and see how many rewards we want for ourselves as a couple in 2011. Let’s select a few of them and make sure we achieve them. I know that together we can do it and we deserve it!” After the 15 minutes, jot down your ideas, resolve to “mull them over,” and set another 15-minute time within the same week to revisit them and see if you’ve changed your mind. If so, reset your goals. If not, use this time to list three steps you can each commit to taking, in order to meet each goal.
MAKE IT SIMPLE AND PERSONAL
Simple doesn’t have to mean small, it just means you ought to be able to explain it to a six-year-old. “We’re going to achieve personal fulfillment” does not qualify as simple! However, “We’re going to cook dinner together once a week;” “We’re going to deliver all apologies sincerely while holding hands and making eye contact;” or “We’re going to have a re-commitment ceremony,” all qualify. Your resolution deserves to be meaningful and satisfying to you, but not necessarily to anyone else. This isn’t about “shoulds.” It’s about whatever will truly bring more joy, love and satisfaction into your relationship. If that means sharing more old movies and popcorn, so be it!
MAKE IT SPECIFIC
It’s tempting to resolve to change the world (or your relationship) in one grand statement, but that’s not what New Year’s resolutions are about. Avoid setting yourself up to fail! If your relationship needs a major overhaul, then your resolution is to make an appointment for couples counseling. One step at a time! Making something specific includes simple ingredients: specify what you will do, when you’ll do it, how often and where.
MAKE IT HAPPEN SOON
There really is no time like now. You’ll have more success if you make resolutions that can happen sooner rather than later. Try to take at least one small step towards your resolution within a week or two. So even if your resolution is to host a summer camp-out this year, go ahead and pick a date and put it on the calendar! If you’re finally going to visit that B&B you admired when you spotted it last year, go bookmark their Web site now!
CONSIDER MAKING IT PUBLIC
Some resolutions are private, but many can be shared with family or friends. Voicing a resolution aloud is powerful – it commits you more fully, and it lets others support and encourage you. And, it’s a great role model for other couples who just might start making their own resolutions!
Dr. Debra Moore is a psychologist and Director of Fall Creek Counseling Associates. She can be reached at 916-344-0900 or at sacramentopsychology.com.