Your relationship with your romantic partner is arguably the most important human relationship in your life. Most of us don’t give it due diligence though! We know our romance is important, and maybe in theory it ranks number one, but in practice, it barely makes the top ten in terms of the effort we put in. However, a new year is coming, and in 2023, we believe better relationships are possible with a little targeted effort. Here are our best New Year’s resolutions for couples to keep your most important relationship healthy!
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The term “New Year’s Resolutions” might elicit an eye-roll (or immediate meltdown) in some of you. In most cases, they are fruitless at best, and downright depressing at worst. We set these unrealistic expectations for ourselves, full of hope and gumption, and by February, we have utterly failed and now feel worse than ever.
Part of the reason we fail is that our resolutions are unrealistic, but another reason is that we have no accountability. Focusing your resolutions this year on your romantic relationship gives you a built-in accountability partner. You and your partner will have something to work towards together and when you achieve your goals, you get to celebrate with your soul mate!
Writer Note: While New Year’s resolutions are often personal and focused on self, I find that when I turn my attention outwards and make goals that focus on others, I am far more internally satisfied. I do not consider myself a relationship expert, but my husband and I have been a (very happy) married couple for 17 years. I find that our best years have been the ones where we strategically focused on relationship goals, had a plan of attack, and kept each other accountable with frequent check-ins.
Realistic Relationship Resolutions
Life is busy, and we’re all juggling too many balls. Crazy lives notwithstanding, if we count our relationships with our significant others as important, then our actions should reflect that. Most of us can’t run off for romantic weekends every month, but we can do several small things to show our partner our devotion, and these little actions can drastically improve the mental, spiritual, and sexual connection with our partners. These resolutions need to be achievable. The majority of your resolutions should be quick to perform, pack a deep connection punch, and be valuable to both of you. Here we go!
1. We resolve to help one another.
One of the easiest ways to hit the reset button on your relationship is by instituting one simple question into your days.
“Is there anything that I can do for you today?”
Your partner might have an immediate answer. They might not be able to think of anything, but starting your day with this question shows your partner that you’re devoted to making their life easier, but it also gets you thinking about your partner daily. It doesn’t have to be anything major, as long as it’s something for them! Focusing on each other’s needs, instead of your own, is an effective bonding exercise and weirdly makes you feel personally fulfilled too!
2. We will set boundaries with our children.
It’s a prominent marriage issue for children to become the center of attention. They are needy, and your greatest responsibility in life is to make sure they are healthy, safe, and relatively happy. However, relationship experts running the gambit have made it clear that one of the most important things you can do for the safety and security of your child is to make sure they know their parents are solid!
This means you may need to send them to a babysitter so you can have a date night. You might need to say no to an event or activity because you and your spouse need a night at home with each other. You might need to send them out to play in the backyard so that you can get a quickie in. Your children know that you love them, but make sure they are secure in the fact that you love their other parent just as much.
3. We will obey the 2-2-2 rule.
Ryan Reynolds and his wife Blake Lively famously have a 2-2-2 rule, and we think it’s genius. They didn’t come up with the rules, as it has been touted by experts for years, but they swear by it, and with a little devotion, it’s doable. Every two weeks, you have a date night together. Every two months, you spend a weekend away together, and every two years, you take a weeklong vacation together.
This is probably the hardest resolution on the list to stick to, but remember a healthy relationship takes pointed effort! You can’t just assume that everything will fall into place and stay there. It won’t. Plan out your date nights, weekends, and your trip. Put them on the calendar, and do not allow anything else to slide into its place. It’s ok to say “no, your dad and I are going out of town.” Spend some time planning your outings. Looking forward to your next moment alone is thrilling, and it gives you something to work towards together!
4. We will get out of our comfort zone.
A common problem in long relationships is that we all get into a rut. We do the same things over and over, which can offer some creature comfort, but it’s also boring. Resolve to break that bad habit this year and do something new together each month. It doesn’t have to be anything world-changing. Just try a new restaurant. Do an activity you have never done together like rock climbing, wine tasting, or a walking tour of a new city.
Make a bucket list at the beginning of the year of activities you would like to try, and check them off as the year goes on. If you have trouble thinking of ideas, and you want some true spontaneity, we will just throw in a shameless plug here for Adventures From Scratch: Date Edition. It doesn’t get more spontaneous than a scratch-off date, and our innovative book contains more than 50 amazing ones!
Check out “21 New and Exciting Things to Do With Your Spouse This Weekend” for a few fabulous date ideas.
5. We will make a sex goal.
Once you have been together for years, and you have children, sex tends to take a back seat. However, a strong sex life is an integral part of a healthy romantic relationship. Assuming that you’ll always feel the same drive your spouse, as you had in the beginning, is foolish. Assuming that sex will just always be natural and happen on its own is a surefire way to end up with a sexless marriage. Hormones change through the years. Physicality and stamina change and sleep become the priority!
Set a goal that works for you, whether that is once a week or twice a month. Nobody wants to have to schedule their intimacy, but even if you have to write it in on the calendar, that’s better than going three months and suddenly realizing you haven’t had sex. Try a new position or a new location. Instead of Netflix binging, head for the bedroom when the kids go to bed. Are the kids taking a Saturday nap? Get a quick one in before you join them in Snooze-Ville.
6. We will do one sexy thing a day.
To make the sex goal a little easier, get in the right mindset. Look for one sexy thing a day to surprise your partner. A whisper in the ear, the use of your sexual code word in public, or changing your constant playful butt slapping to a more seductive touch can be enough to get the wheels turning. Even if it doesn’t lead to sex, it does lead to you thinking about each other intimately, which is a step in the right direction.
There are several amazing apps out there devoted to helping couples keep the intimacy in their relationship. They offer easy ideas, daily reminders, and fun challenges to keep your bedroom routine spicy! Check out our list of “The 30 Best Apps for Couples.”
7. We will initiate five minutes of no phone.
After you put the kiddos to bed, or as soon as your spouse gets home, take five minutes to have a conversation with no phone screens, no social media, and no TV. Spending quality time with your significant other, even if it’s only a few minutes devoted completely to them, is a game-changer, and it’s easy. Either make it a habit at a certain time of day, or one of you call “timeout” when you realize it needs to be done.
8. We will shut the door.
Another easy way to sneak in some quality time is to go to your room and shut the door each day. This bit of relationship advice comes from the very successful marriage of my parents. They did this daily, as soon as they got home. While we didn’t know what they were doing, we knew it was part of their daily routine, and we were not to disturb them.
I suggest you use this time to get in a full-body hug and a real kiss. The benefits of hugging a loved one are well-documented. A twenty-second-long, uninterrupted hug has been shown to decrease stress, reduce heart disease and pain, and releases feel-good hormones like Dopamine and Oxytocin, making you feel happier! Twenty seconds is doable in anyone’s schedule. Set aside time to hug your partner.
9. We will do one thing we love.
Each week, resolve to do one thing that each of you loves. You may decide to do this together as a mini-date, or remind your partner that they need to take some time for themselves and go running, hit a golf ball, or take a hot bath. Making time for the little things that our souls love will produce far better results than binging another two hours of TV, while not talking to one another.
10. We will add volunteering to our calendar.
Giving back to the community is a great way to spend quality time together. If there’s an issue that you both care deeply about, then find a way to further your cause together. Volunteer to bathe pups at the local animal shelter, serve food at a weekend soup kitchen, or organize a trash pickup in your area. You’ll be helping others, most importantly, but also doing something that makes you feel alive and provides stimulating conversation for you and your boo.
11. We will make cooking a family affair.
Cooking doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it’s a great time to dance in the kitchen, laugh over a glass of wine, get in your five minutes of no-phone time, or talk about the difficulties of the day. One of you cooks, and the other one cleans up, but you both hang out in the kitchen for the experience.
12. We will check in monthly.
Write down your resolutions, and check in with each other, at least monthly. This habit’s a good idea for others areas of life too. When my husband and I first got married, an older mentor couple told us that the secret to their healthy marriage was that they stayed ahead of problems. They did this with a simple question once a week. So they would sit down at dinner or before bed and one or the other would ask, “How are we doing?”
They explained that the simple question meant: Am I giving you what you need? Is there any area of our relationship that needs improvement? They would then answer honestly but with grace and talk about any issues that were trying to sneak in on their happiness.
13. We will fight effectively and respectfully.
While we’re on the topic of approaching issues with grace, one of the hardest and most important aspects of any good relationship is learning to fight fairly. Put the past year behind you and resolve to fight differently this year. Think before you speak and choose your words strategically.
For instance, “I feel frustrated by… ” is a more productive statement than “you make me so frustrated.” The goal is not to place blame. It’s to solve the problem. Don’t bring up personality traits or old problems that don’t pertain to the current issue. Avoid accusatory phrases like “you always,” “you never,” or “you make me feel.” Instead, express your feelings or concerns with clarity and kindness. Address the actual issue at hand, and don’t make assumptions about the intentions or feelings of your partner. All couples fight, so you might as well agree to make your fighting effective.
14. We will look for opportunities to give praise.
“Words of affirmation” is one of the famous Five Love Languages, and whether it’s your go-to or not, there are very few people out there who don’t crave a little praise from their partner. Look for little ways to compliment your spouse. You admire many of their traits. You fell in love with them after all, so let them know!
15. We will have serious conversations.
Set a goal to have a real conversation with your spouse every week that doesn’t revolve around your children or work. If you need help doing this, look for a great list of conversation starters. This keeps you and your boo on the same wavelength and drastically deepens your mental connection with each other.
If you struggle with intimate conversations, then take some cues from “52 Conversation Prompts for Couples.”
16. We will regularly show gratitude.
Being thankful can move mountains, both in your relationship and in your own soul. It’s no secret. If you have read any self-help book, then you have been bombarded by the benefits of thankfulness practices. Set a goal to thank your partner every day for something. It will make them feel valued and remind them of just how good you have it. While we’re not suggesting ulterior motives here, you might just be blown away by how much more your partner will do for you when they are properly shown gratitude for what they already do.
17. We will plan for the long term.
Set a goal this New Year’s to make a five-year, ten-year, or 50-year plan with your spouse. Looking forward to your future, setting goals, and devising a plan to accomplish them makes sure that the little things don’t fall through the cracks on you. You have your path, and you have steps to follow to get there, and that will give you something to look forward to and converse about for all the years to come!
18. We will laugh every day.
Endeavor to make your partner laugh. It really is good medicine! Watch a funny video or your favorite comedian together. Tell an inside joke or spend your home date night with a romantic comedy. When you’re SO is stressed, do that stupid dance that never fails to make them giggle. Or when things get tense, laugh. When things get stale and boring, laugh. It immediately changes the mood of the room and often dissolves those stupid little frustrations before they take hold and transform into all-out battles.
Make the change!
Making resolutions is great, but you’ll not stick to them as a couple if they are not realistic goals that matter to both of you. Think strategically about what you want from your relationship. Talk about a few of the resolutions on our list or personal ones you have, and choose a few to focus on. Don’t just write them down on New Year’s Eve. Take some time to devise a plan and make your schedule. Stick to the dates you set, and don’t let the other categories of life steal time from you and your spouse. Remember, this is your most important relationship, you must actively treat it as such, and give it the time and care it requires to flourish.
Okay, gurus, what are your best tips for a fresh new year with your partner? Do you make resolutions? What are you going to do this year? Let us know in the comments!
If your favorite date with your honey is some downtime at home, there’s nothing wrong with that! However, two people, on their phones, while Hulu plays in the background, is not a real date. Take some tips from “22 Suggestions for a Cozy Night in With Your Partner” to make sure your date night goes swimmingly!
Frequently Asked Questions
New Year’s resolutions are often not effective because of unrealistic goals. Making resolutions with your partner gives you a built-in accountability partner and can be more effective.
For a great year with your partner, resolve to have a designated date night, show gratitude every day, and do something spontaneous together every month!
Prioritizing a weekly date night is a top resolution. Spice up your date nights with conversation starters, scratch-off adventures, and in-home date ideas from Adventures From Scratch: Date Edition!