Resolution for Two Want to make this a great year for your marriage? Try making one of these 10 resolutions that can help bring you closer. BY FRANCINE KIZNER
This year, focus on your relationship with your resolutions.
You hop into the new year by sharing a bottle of bubbly and a smooch from your partner, but your resolutions will probably focus on you, you and you. You want to lose weight, get a promotion and make more money. But what about that other entity in your life—your marriage? We challenge you to make 2008 the best year yet for your union by taking your partner into consideration and making a resolution that’ll benefit both of you.
Don’t know where to start? We’ve got 10 experts who can help you get the gears turning.
Adopt The Nike philosophy and "Just Do It"
The number-one problem brought to sex therapists is a sexual desire gap, when one spouse is hot and the other is not. But for many people, it's not until you’re physically stimulated that you realize you’re turned on and would like to make love. So don't just wait for the mood to strike. Be receptive, get moving and watch what happens.
—Michele Weiner-Davis, author of The Sex-Starved Wife
Visualize A More Perfect Union
Make a mission statement for the new year that outlines the marriage you want to create. Write it the way you’d put together a business plan, and make sure you keep it handy so you can refer to it throughout the year.
—Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway, interfaith wedding officiant, relationship coach and author
of Wedding Goddess
Work On Your Most Annoying Habit
Ask your partner to name a couple of behavior patterns of yours that annoy them. Choose one, and resolve to end it. Since old conditioning dies hard, it’s best to come up with a strategy that allows for mistakes on your part. A word of caution: Don’t make this type of resolution unless you seriously intend to keep it.
—Don Rosenthal, relationship expert and author of Learning to Love from Conflict to Lasting Harmony
Get Your Finances In Order
Resolve to live within your means and clean up your credit. You already know who’s the saver and who’s the spender. Put the saver in charge of all funds and consider setting up three accounts—yours, your partner’s and a joint account to ensure that you’re both comfortable with the arrangement.
—Elinor Robin, conflict strategist and mediator
Many relationships fail because one or both partners is either too focused on their own happiness or too focused on the other person’s happiness. If each person takes the time to focus on their needs and wants as well as their partner’s, then both people are being cared for fully.
—Stacy Kaiser, psychotherapist and licensed therapist
Finish Your Arguments
A major cause of divorce is unresolved arguments where couples argue about the same thing fairly often, so it’s important to focus on finding solutions together. If you’re clear about the specific solution for the future, whether it’s about who is responsible for making dinner reservations or how you’re going to be less forgetful about taking out the garbage, then you can go to bed happy and stay happy.
—Laurie Puhn, family attorney-mediator and author of Instant Persuasion
Don’t Play The Blame Game
When you fight, don’t point fingers. If you focus on yourself, you’ll resolve conflicts more quickly because you and your spouse will feel more open to each other’s emotional experience. So whenever you have a conflict, do your best to think about what you may be contributing to the problem and share it with your partner.
—Michael D. Zentman, director of the postgraduate program in marriage and couple therapy, Adelphi University
Let Go Of Your Baggage
Prevent that nasty descent into meanness when having a fight by focusing on the problem at hand. There's no need to rehash that time his mother-in-law forgot your birthday two years ago. Stick to the topic at hand and there's a better chance your argument will lead to a solution.
—Dr. Harris Stratyner, vice president of Caron Treatment Centers
End The Power Struggle
Household chores are one of the top sources of marital conflicts, but if you have a clear picture of who does what, you can end the power struggle. Sit down with your spouse and go over the jobs and make clear the job descriptions it takes to keep your household running.
—John Curtis, author of The Business of Love
Think Beyond Yourselves
Enliven and reinvigorate your relationship by spending time helping others. Couples who volunteer as a team on projects that help the environment, the less fortunate or social awareness often find that the shift of focus will make their relationship better.
—Mick Quinn, author of The Uncommon Path