It’s probably one of the biggest clichés ever: You decide you’ll be your best version next year, set ambitious goals, write them down — and abandon them within a week. Happened to all of us, and for good reason: change is hard, and drastic change is (usually) impossible. The good news is, we have the recipe for new years’ resolutions that actually work, and it’s pretty simple: just choose something you can show up for every day. It can sound small, even mundane, but the effect may amaze you a few months in.
The same goes for relationship goals: instead of nurturing grandiose hopes that shatter when faced with reality, go with practical, simple things you can start this week. Imagine you have a time machine, and the you of six months from now has traveled back here. Choose at least one thing from the list and start making a difference for future-you. You’ll be thanking yourself.
1. Listen: Pick a time when you have at least a half hour and "visit" your partner's world: Ask exploratory questions, maintain eye contact, and get curious about what’s significant for them right now. Remind yourself to keep reactive responses for another time. Listening with curiosity is a tremendous gift that can be transformative for your relationship.
2. Learn about each other's past: Set a time (a long car ride can be ideal) and interview each other about what it was like to be a child in your families. We often bring unspoken beliefs and feelings to our adult relationships from our earlier experiences and bringing awareness to those can help both of us feel safer and be more sensitive.
3. Get physical: If you're both on board, engage in the type of physical contact that increases brain chemicals linked to feelings of warmth and safety. Sitting together so that your arms or legs touch, lingering in a hug, and offering each other back and shoulder rubs increase the production of oxytocin, also called the "bonding chemical".
4. Speak for, not from: Instead of responding to your partner from the part of you that's upset, try speaking for it, in the third person. It can sound like "I'm noticing a part of me that's feeling hurt that you forgot to pick up the groceries you said you'd get" instead of "I'm angry that you forgot the groceries." Imagine what it feels like to be on the receiving end of each of those statements, and it becomes clearer which one is less likely to contribute to a fight.
5. Validate: Let your partner know that their feelings make sense to you, and why. This can sound like "I know how important it is for you to be a valuable member of your team, so I can understand how being sick would be really hard for you." If you notice an impulse to argue and say something like "they're not holding you responsible for being sick, why can't you just focus on getting better?" treat it as a sign for you to get curious about what you feel when your partner expresses their upset.
If you've decided to invest more in your relationship this year but not sure where to start, join Ritual and get practical relationship support from experienced experts. Save 40% your first month of Ritual with code "HappyTogether" at the checkout, valid until January 5th ❤️