7 Analysis-Based mostly Resolutions That Will Assist Strengthen Your Relationship within the Yr Forward
By Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., Monmouth University
The new year will be better. It has to be better. Perhaps you were among the 74% of Americans in a poll who said they’d press the reset button on Jan 1st and get better. Most often, these New Year’s resolutions focus on eating healthier, exercising, losing weight, and being a better person.
Admirable destinations to be sure of. However, focusing on your body and mind neglects something equally important: your romantic relationship. Couples with better marriages report greater well-being, and a recent study found that having a better romantic relationship not only promotes well-being and health now, but these benefits extend into the future.
The lesson is clear: your relationship is important. Make up your mind to do it right.
That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. But here are seven resolutions, based on recent psychological research, that you can carry out this New Year to help keep your relationship going.
1. Prepare for success
Adjust your mindset so that you see your relationship as a key source of positive experiences. Psychologists like me call this an increase in your social motivation. Rather than just trying to avoid relationship problems, those with approach motivation seek out the positive aspects and use them to support the relationship.
Here’s how it works: Imagine a conversation with your partner. When you are more motivated, you can focus on positive feelings when speaking and see your partner as more responsive to you. Your partner also gets a positive impression and in return sees you as more reactive. The good mood of one partner carries over to the other partner and ultimately benefits both. After a year of potentially unprecedented external strain on your relationship, laying the groundwork to reap all of its positive benefits is a good start.
2. Be optimistic
While things in the past may not always have gone the way you wanted them to, it is important to be optimistic about the future. But the right optimism is important. A 2020 research study by Krystan Farnish and Lisa Neff found that participants were generally able to handle relationship conflicts more effectively – as they put it, better able to shake them off – than those who were optimistic specifically about their relationship.
It seems that people who focus all their rosy expectations only on their relationship are encouraged to expect few negative experiences with their partner. Since this is unrealistic even in the best of relationships, they will be disappointed.
3. Increase your psychological flexibility
Try to go with the flow. In other words, work on accepting your feelings without being defensive. It’s okay to adjust your behavior – you don’t always have to do things the way you always have, or go to the places you’ve always gone. Stop being stubborn and experiment with flexibility.
A recent study by Karen Twiselton and colleagues found that relationship quality is higher when you are more mentally flexible, also because you experience more positive and less negative emotions. For example, tackling the annual challenge of holidays and family traditions is a minefield for relationships. However, when both partners pull away from a “must” mentality in favor of a more adaptable approach, the harmony of the relationships becomes greater.
4. It is okay to put “me” before “we”.
For some people, playing the self-sacrificing martyr in their romantic relationship is easy. If this sounds like you, try to focus more on yourself. It doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad partner. When you are mentally healthy, your partner and your relationship will benefit too.
Recent research identified four main characteristics that are part of good mental health: openness to feelings, warmth, positive emotions, and straightforwardness. These qualities help make it clearer who you are, feel better about yourself, express more optimism and less aggression, take less advantage of others, and display less anti-social behavior. You can see how good what is good for you in this case is also good for your partner.
5. Do something for your partner
But it’s not just about you. Part of the process is sometimes putting your partner first and responding to your partner’s wishes. A 2020 study by Johanna Peetz and colleagues found that prioritizing your partner will make you feel closer, increase positive feelings, reduce negative feelings and improve the perceived quality of relationships.
In the New Year, look for ways to bring some profits to your partner. From time to time, let them find their way and support them in what they want to do without only prioritizing your own wants and needs.
6. Don’t be so hard on yourself
So many New Years resolutions focus on body image. The drive to eat better and exercise often comes down to the same goal: a hotter body. However, research from Xue Lei shows that you may not really know what your partner wants you to look like.
Women tend to overestimate how thin male partners they want them to be. Likewise, men believe that female partners want them to be more muscular than women. It may seem harmless, but in both cases individuals are more critical and self-challenging, in part because they misunderstand what a partner really wants.
7. Stay in touch
I saved the simplest item on the list for the last time: touch your partner more. When Cheryl Carmichael and colleagues followed 115 participants over a period of 10 days, they found that initiating and receiving touch – things like holding hands, cuddling, kissing – was associated with both increasing closeness and the quality of the relationship. What is important is that having your partner touch has the added benefit of making you feel better understood and validated. Who couldn’t need more of it in the coming year?
Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., Professor of Psychology, Monmouth University
This article is republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.