1. Think positive. It’s so easy to fall into a trap of focusing on the negatives of your partner and your relationship, especially if you’ve been together for a reasonable amount of time. This year, instead vow to remind yourself of the things you love about your relationship and why your partner is amazing. It will change the way you handle challenges and lead to fewer arguments.
2. Let go of the past. That big argument you had last year (or even the year before)? Move past it. If you and your partner have apologised and made peace with the argument, it’s time to move forward. Instead of stacking up past ‘failures’ to prove a point, work on ways of building trust in the relationship to ensure that arguments don’t become recurring.
3. Be emotionally honest. Even the most direct individuals sometimes have trouble communicating their true feelings to their partner (out of fear of being seen as vulnerable or hurting the person’s feelings, or being unsure of what response will be received). It’s important to let your partner in on what you’re feeling so that they know how to help the situation. Focus on statements that don’t shift blame, either – take responsibility for your emotions. “I feel…” is an emotionally honest statement, whilst “You made me feel…” is an example of blame shifting.
4. Make quality time a priority. For many of us, much of the time we spend with our partner also involves a fair degree of multitasking – the TV is on, we’re checking our phones, they’re reading a book… the list goes on. Spend dedicated time with your partner where phones are off the table, the TV is off and you have each other’s undivided attention. Date Nights are a great way to implement this.
5. Don’t leave sex on the backburner. Life gets busy. We get tired, we get stressed, and we forget how wonderful it is to have dedicated time for uninterrupted sex. Good sex fosters emotional intimacy, boosts your mood, is fantastic for your health and great for your relationship. If sex has become lackluster, don’t just settle for it – figure out how you can inject some spice back into that area of your lives. This is why it’s crucial to be able to communicate with your partner. Ask them what they’d like to explore, and you can communicate your desires too. When you’re both communicating openly with each other, you’ll feel that spontaneous spark come back into your whole relationship.
6. Praise more than you criticise. So much of bickering in relationships is caused by needless criticism. Compliment your partner often and before bringing up a niggling little issue, ask yourself if it’s worth starting a fight over.
7. Try something new. It’s easy to fall into the habit of doing the same old things all the time. But trying a new hobby isn’t nearly as scary with your partner there with you. And if that hobby doesn’t turn out to be right for you, try something else! At least you’ve had a laugh together.
8. Listen. Don’t talk over your partner, or try to finish their sentences. Let them talk, hear them, and let them know that they’re heard.
9. Have a shared goal. Do you both share a bad habit? Do you both want to achieve the same thing? Work on it together – it’ll bring you closer together and improve not only your relationship, but both of you as individuals.
10. Be silly! Work can be boring and the stress of everyday life can take over – but not everything in your relationship has to be so serious. When was the last time you had a water fight, bounced on a trampoline or did something creative together? Being playful is a great stress reducer and all that fun will get some serious endorphins pumping – spicing up your relationship in more ways than one!