7  mins

Updated: 23 Jan, 2020

A new year. A new opportunity to grow, to learn, to explore, and obviously a new year’s resolution.

Lots of New Year’s resolutions have to do with self – care. For example- improving ourselves, exercising more, drinking less, spending more time with friends and family, or finding time just to be alone. But what about the relationship growth opportunities?

Whether you are partnered up, married, dating, or just getting out there, the new year is a great time to reevaluate how to grow a relationship and how to deepen your relationship.

Let’s not think of these as resolutions, but rather ways to take a look at what we’re doing now, what we’d like to do in the future, and shortening the space between those two.

Read on to learn 10 ways you can create new opportunities for growing together as a couple and making the relationship better.

1. More listening, less talking.

When we are speaking with our spouse or partner during a disagreement most of the time, we are barely listening to what our partner is saying. From their first few words, we are already starting to formulate our response or our rebuttal.

What would it look like to really listen – to allow the space to hear your partner’s thoughts, feelings, and concerns, before formulating our response?

To cultivate a relationship and for growing together in a relationship, you must open your ears and listen.

2. Building awareness.

Many a time, our responses to our partners aren’t responses based on what’s going on in the moment – the responses are based on things we are carrying into the present moment our current argument.

We are bringing in past arguments, past thoughts or feelings, past experiences with similar arguments. How can you learn new ways to make a relationship better if you are not aware of what you may be bringing into the present moment?

3. Maintaining awareness.

Another way to make your relationship grow is by maintaining awareness of your emotions and of your partner’s needs.

We can maintain awareness throughout our relationship by being in touch with what’s going on in our physical body.

When we are anxious, heightened, or elevated, our bodies exhibit certain signs. Notice if your heart starts beating faster if you feel like you’re short of breath if you feel like you’re getting hot or heated or sweaty.

These are all signs that you have an emotional reaction. Be aware of those, take those into account and build and maintain awareness around your body’s physiological responses.

Our body does a great job of keeping track of our emotional responses.

4. Try something new.

Whether it’s something your partner has wanted to try and you’ve been hesitant about, or a new place that neither one of you have been to before, trying something new or different can rekindle the flame and excitement in a relationship.

When we are experiencing new things together, it heightens and deepens the connection that we have with our partner.

It doesn’t have to be anything crazy – it can simply be ordering something else from your favorite Thai restaurant that you guys get takeout from every Friday night.

5. Spend more time together.

Spend more time together.

For relationship growth, couples need to spend more quality time together.

Are you spending quality time with your partner? Examine the moments, hours, or days that you spend in your partner’s company – is this quality time? Or is this coexisting time?

Find space to spend quality time together during times that might in the past have been identified as coexisting times. Look for the opportunities to connect.

6. Spend less time together.

OK, I understand this is a direct opposite of the previous number; however, sometimes absence does make the heart grow fonder. By spending time apart, we can cultivate a relationship with our self.

By spending time apart from our partner, we can maybe start to do some of those things on our resolution list for self – exercise, meditate, spend more time with friends, read or write a journal.

The more we can connect with ourselves- the more present we can be when we are with our partner.

7. Put down the phone.

Spending less time on the phone is not the same as spending less screen time when you’re with your partner.

Most of the time, we can be watching a movie together, our favorite TV show, binging on our favorite Netflix series, while at the same time also scrolling through our phones.

What would it look like to only be watching one screen while you’re spending time with your spouse or partner or girlfriend or boyfriend? Less screen time for you individually might be one of your personal New Year’s resolutions, but what about the screen time that you spend together with your partner?

Mobile phones have a profound effect on our relationships and we must find balance and show restraint.

8. Prioritize intimacy.

Intimacy in relationships doesn’t just mean the act of sex or any acts that are associated with sex. Intimacy can also be emotional, being present aware, and emotionally vulnerable with and for your partner.

That’s not to say that physical intimacy doesn’t need to be a priority. There can be space for both physical intimacy and emotional vulnerability. Prioritize intimacy and reconnect with your partner.

9. Reestablish relationship intentions.

Many a time in a relationship or marriage, we get overwhelmed with the duties of the day today. We wake up, we get coffee, we make breakfast, we go to work, we come home to talk to our spouse about work or the kids, and then go to bed. What would it look like to reestablish and re-commit to your intentions in your romantic partnership?

What are the things that you want to make a priority this year? What are the areas where you both can give a little or take a little from the other person? Setting intentional time aside to reestablish relationship intentions can help you feel more connected to your partner and more heard as an individual within the relationship.

10. Have more fun.

Laugh. There is enough seriousness going on in our lives, in our communities, in the world. There is a lot to be frustrated about, A lot that isn’t fair, and probably more than we would like are the things that make us uncomfortable. The antidote to that could be finding more opportunities to have fun, be silly, playful, and childlike.

Watch a movie just because it makes you laugh, share jokes or memes with your partner in order to lighten their day, make it a priority every day to help your partner smile.

Change the word resolution

By changing a “resolution “to an “opportunity” to change, grow, or deepen a connection. We can change our association with it.

Resolution seems like a task something we need to do something that we need to check off, but a connection is something that can continue to be developed over time. There is no end to connection, growth, or change. This way, as long as you’re trying – putting in the effort – you are achieving your relationship’s New Year’s resolution.

Also watch:

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Dr. Mae Casanova is a licensed clinical psychologist based out of San Diego, Ca. She considers herself a therapist, consultant, writer and growth coach.
She fosters a therapeutic environment that has both acceptance and challenge, and is meaning/value focused. Her approach is unique to each client, meeting them where they are emotionally, intellectually, and physically.
But above all- she wants you to know she is human- just like you. Perfectly flawed, doing her best to connect, thrive and grow.

More by Dr Mae Casanova

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