It’s never too late to make those New Year’s Resolutions - especially if you’re in a relationship. Probably the number one question I get asked most often by gay couples is, unsurprisingly, "How do I make my relationship better?"
So, in line with the beginning of a New Year, I thought I’d write a short blurb that lists some possible action steps you might take to improve your partnership in the coming year. We’ve all heard of making personal New Year’s Resolutions like "I’m going to lose weight this year" or "I’m going to go to the health club more often", but what would happen if we expanded upon that concept and created Resolutions for our relationships as couples?
With our busy lifestyles and excessive demands placed upon our time, it can be very easy to take our relationships for granted and unconsciously place them on the low end of our priority scales. And with those couples who have been together for a long time, it’s even easier to settle into comfortable routines and patterns (as if on auto-pilot) at the expense of attending to and nurturing our relationship with our partners. This neglect is a primary reason for relationship discord, boredom, and a host of other problems that begin to erode at the foundation of our bonds as lovers/husbands.
*Catapult Your Relationship In The New Year!*
Conscious intention toward putting consistent energy into your relationship is crucial for its longevity and success. So why not, as a couple, create your own list of New Year’s Resolutions for your relationship and make sure to attend to the items on your list.
In fact, the actual act of the two of you sitting down and developing a list would be a great first item, something the two of you could creatively do that fosters togetherness and mutual brainstorming on ways to super-charge your connection. In essence, the two of you are creating a vision for your relationship, and the pure act of doing that begins to cement more intimacy between you as you have common goals to strive toward and celebrate the successes along the way.
Need some help creating some Resolutions? While it’ll have more meaning and substance if you and your partner can create your own, here’s some examples that you might use; they might even spark some additional ideas of your own! Have at it, and enjoy the process!
*Sample Relationship New Year’s Resolutions*
"For this year 2013, we as a couple, resolve to do the following for the benefit and growth of our relationship..."
1. To listen to each other without interrupting as a way to improve our communication and validate each other’s perspectives on issues.
2. To take notice of the "little things" we do and to acknowledge our observation of these things as a way to keep giving each other positive strokes.
3. To make more time for each other and restructure our schedules so that we have more quality time and availability to go out on dates and enjoy each other.
4. To make love to each other with more passion, intensity, and creativity.
5. To create a scrapbook of memories of our life together that will act as a legacy of our relationship.
6. To make sure that we have some kind of dialogue on a daily basis that keeps us centered on each other and keeps the distractions of our lives at bay.
7. To surprise each other with simple adorations of our love for each other, whether it be flowers sent to the office or a love note slipped in our briefcases.
8. To attend personal growth workshops, couples’ retreats, sign up for relationship coaching sessions, or read books that will help us keep growing and developing as a couple.
9. To make more friends and surround ourselves with positive people who will affirm and support our relationship.
10. To work through any self-esteem issues or internalized homophobia that either one of us may have that interfere with us being able to show the world that we are proud to be gay and a couple.
11. To say "I love you" more often and take "Time-Outs" as needed when we’re angry so we don’t escalate problems and say things that will hurt one another.
12. To ensure that we each have both an individual identity and an identity as a couple to bring about more balance/health to our partnership. Having outside interests, hobbies, and passions will help bring more novelty and freshness to our lives.
13. To be honest and direct with our feelings and needs instead of keeping things to ourselves. We also will avoid placing blame on each other and will acknowledge mistakes and take responsibility accordingly.
And the list can go on and on. Fine-tune these, as well as the ones you’ve come up with so that they are specific, concrete, and measurable. This way, you both know exactly what you have to do to accomplish the goals you’ve set because they’re spelled out with no "wiggle-room" for sabotage, and you’ll ensure that they’re achievable. Prioritize your items and only focus on a few initially so as not to get too overwhelmed.
Maintain these tasks, and your commitment will soar to new heights! Reward yourselves for jobs well done and periodically assess and check-in with each other to gauge how you’re doing and if any revisions or additions need to be made. Happy New Year, and all the best with your new relationship goals and objectives!
© Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach
The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed. None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.
Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, contributing author to GAYTWOGETHER, is one of the leading love coaches for the gay community. As a licensed dating and relationship coach, Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, DHS, MSW has over 18 years experience as a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in helping GLBT individuals and couples develop and maintain successful and fulfilling intimate relationships. He holds a doctorate degree in human sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Western Michigan University. He also runs a successful private therapy practice, Personal Victory Counseling, Inc. http://thegaylovecoach.com