Still wondering what your New Year’s Resolution should be this year? Would you like to try something a little different?
Make a New Year’s Resolution that you can fulfill with your spouse. Planing for the year ahead and setting goals as a couple will infuse your relationship with new energy and make 2016 the best year of your marriage yet! Here are a few ideas about making resolutions with your spouse in mind.
1. “Loose Weight”
Not physical weight, but emotional. What baggage are you still holding on to in your relationship? The new year is the perfect time to think about areas where you can forgive your spouse and put things in the past.
First, take a few minutes to reflect on times that you’ve been hurt. Second, deliberately tell your spouse you forgive them for _____ (fill in the blank) and that you will no longer bring the issue back up.
This is a tough commitment to make, but it will really make the pounds come right off! Try starting with smaller issues such as leaving the toilet seat up or taking the remote control. After that, you might find it easier to address bigger issues such as being late for dinner that one night or forgetting to pay the daycare bill.
2. Pray Together More
Novice Level – If you’ve never done this, make 2016 the year to give it a try. Just 5 minutes can make a huge impact. Take turns reading a Bible passage aloud to one another. Journal on what you’ve just read for 5 minutes. When you journal, think about what God might be saying to you about your marriage and your life together through the Scripture passage. Write down one word or phrase that comes to mind.
Intermediate Level – If you’re already praying with your spouse, is there a new way you’d like to try praying together this upcoming year? Perhaps it’s saying a short prayer aloud for one another before leaving the house for work and to bless your spouse’s day. Maybe adding Couples’ Lectio Divina to your prayer time could be a new idea. You’d have your own personal Bible study as a couple!
Experienced Level – If you’ve been accustomed to praying with your spouse, seek out a retreat for married couples. Really invest some time into your vocation. There are great retreats which help couples reflect on their relationship from a spiritual perspective. Places such as the John Paul II Healing Center, Theology of the Body Institute, and the Our Lady of Divine Providence House of Prayer all provide quality retreat experiences.The new year gives a perfect opportunity to deepen your relationship with God and with one another.
3. Review Your Favorite Memory from 2015
This is one of my favorites: Set aside 15 minutes with your spouse. Set a timer for 5 minutes and individually write down your favorite memory that you had with your spouse from 2015. Be sure to include 3 reasons WHY this was a special memory for you. When the 5 minutes are up, use the next 5 minutes to share your memories with one another. The last 5 minutes are the most important. Based on what you’ve shared, set a goal together of how to create more fond memories together for 2016! Your 3 reasons why will help with this last step.
4. Fix Money Problems
Are you tired of fighting about money? Money is a common source of conflict for couples. In fact, financial fights are the number one cause of divorce. If you find yourself debating about money year after year, make 2016 the year you stop. Many people find that the most helpful way to stop the arguing is to create a comprehensive budget for each and every month, together. Using a budget (and following it) is a huge step toward getting on the same page. It’s the perfect way to discuss your financial goals as a couple. Many couples say creating a budget is the reason they start saving for their goals and stop fighting about money.
If you’re struggling to budget on your own, go to prominent financial coach Dave Ramsey. He has a simple, effective, and motivating method that helps changes lives. I’ve seen the transformation of many marriages after implementing his plan. They truly have peace about their finances. You can learn more in his book The Total Money Makeover or his Podcast.
5. Make a Big Decision
Are there decisions you’ve been sitting on for a while? Are you thinking about going back to school, a new career, moving, or a new baby? Now might be the perfect time to create a plan. You don’t want to make a decision haphazardly, though. Here’s how:
- Write down the steps you should take to reach that goal. For example, if you want to go back to school, do you need to save a certain amount of money first? If so, how do you plan to go about it? Do you plan to get an extra job or to cut extra spending (See point #4 above)?
- Sit down with you spouse and have a conversation. Have your priorities changed since you first thought of this new possibility for your family?
- Write down the pros and cons to making this big change. You can create a list together or separately. If you choose to do it separately, be sure to share your lists with one another afterward.
- Discuss the urgency of the decision. Is it something that must happen now or can it wait?
- Pray and ask God what you are being called to as a couple. When my husband and I were considering an out-of-state move, we created a pros and cons list. Then we took time in prayer separately. After a period of time, we came back together and shared what we received in prayer. We both received the same answer during our prayer time and that helped us make our decision. If we did not have the same answer, that would have been a sign to continue praying and reviewing our options.
After you’ve done all of this, take everything into account and decide together if this year is the time to follow through on your potential big decision.
6. Serve One Another (1 Peter 4:8-11)
Reflecting on and utilizing Christian charity in the context of the marital relationship can bring much joy. So often we think about what our spouse does wrong or what they should change in order to make the relationship better. But we know a better way…
“…whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be servant of all.” Mark 10:43-45
I once worked with a couple* who struggled with this very issue. The husband was frustrated and felt as if his wife was not doing anything for him and that his requests went unheard. He began to turn inward and there was a distance and coldness between husband and wife. Through therapy, the husband learned to trust in his wife’s love. He was able to stop focusing on himself and practice ways to serve his wife. As he did more and more acts of service, the reasons to nitpick his wife seemed insignificant and his desire to turn toward her grew. Once this happened, the wife began to open up and show love through acts of service even more!
When we view our marriage from the perspective of “How can I serve my spouse better?” as opposed to “What he/she isn’t doing for me!” then sparks really begin to fly. Instead of being angry because he didn’t help with the dishes or becoming frustrated that she left her towel on the bathroom floor again, pick up the towel, wash the dishes, and ask your partner what else they need help with. All of those little moments are opportunities to choose love over selfishness, to serve and sacrifice. Before you know it, making life easier for your lifelong partner will feel like a breeze. You’ll be eager to honor your spouse through acts of service. There are so many ways to do this: taking out the trash, letting them choose what’s for dinner, completing a household chore because it needs to be done as opposed to letting it wait since it’s “not your job.”
Having a servant’s heart reduces conflict and increases feelings of love, admiration, and respect. It also inadvertently motivates your partner to serve you more. You may even end up in a service competition!
Disclaimer: This is not intended to suggest an opportunity to use or abuse someone else. In NO WAY does this mean to demand that someone serve your every request.
These are just a few ways you can enter into 2016 as a couple. What are some other ways you might like to try to grow together with your spouse in the New Year? Share and comment.
If you’d like more in-depth support for your marriage this year, visit my website for more information: www.reginaboyd.com
*Information about the couple used as an example was changed in order to preserve confidentiality.