“Love is a vessel that contains both security and adventure, and commitment offers one of the great luxuries of life: time. Marriage is not the end of romance, it is the beginning.” – Ester Perel
I always notice a spike in my number of weekly appointments after family get-togethers. I know these events are a time for joy and laughter, but let’s be honest… they can take a toll on even the strongest relationships. Between traveling, cooking, cleaning, and entertaining, our stress levels rise and we begin to feel a bit on edge. Unfortunately, the person most likely to be on the receiving end of your agitation and exhaustion is your significant other. Bickering increases, sex decreases, and all of the issues you thought you resolved bubble back up to the surface with a vengeance.
When the get-together is behind us, we should take time to bring the focus back to our most important relationship. I’m not usually one to commit to lists of resolutions, but just for fun, I want to jump on the resolution bandwagon and share some ways you can strengthen your relationship.
1. Schedule a weekend alone together.
If you’re like me, you spend time focusing on every relationship in your life except your marriage. Take a few days in January to focus exclusively on each other. Relax at home, go to the movies, get a massage, or go on that hike you’ve been talking about for months. Set an intention to focus on your loving feelings for your partner during your weekend together. Make room for laughter, fun, and maybe a little romance. Show each other that you are going to make your relationship a priority.
2. Find a cause you are both passionate about and commit to volunteering together.
This resolution serves several purposes. We know that helping others has a positive impact on our emotional health. Volunteering with your partner is a guaranteed way to generate positive feelings while strengthening your emotional connection. Also, happy couples spend lots of quality time together. Committing to a volunteer organization assures that you and your partner will spend time together doing something that makes you both feel good while helping your community. I’d call that a win-win situation.
3. Have more sex!
Most couples report feeling dissatisfied with their sex lives. Maybe you’re not having enough sex, are having boring sex, or are having painful sex. Schedule some time to sit down together to take an inventory of how you are both feeling about your sexual relationship. Brainstorm ways you can work together to feel more satisfied sexually. Check out this fun (R-rated) worksheet for some ideas on how to talk to your partner about your sexual desires.
4. Commit to investing in at least four couples counseling sessions.
Whether you’re fighting non-stop, cannot resolve your sexual problems, or are just looking for ways to improve upon an already good relationship, couples counseling is the most effective way to resolve your struggles and strengthen your relationship. I recommend scheduling an appointment with a highly qualified couples counselor to take an inventory of the health of your relationship. (Click here for tips on how to find a qualified couples counselor.) Your counselor will help you and your partner develop a plan of action to achieve your unique relationship goals. I have many couples that see me once a quarter to talk about their relationship and re-calibrate their priorities for the coming months. This is the best way to assure that you and your partner feel happy and connected year-round!