It's almost here — the time we all get super aspirational (and perhaps a bit unrealistic) and set our New Year's Resolutions. Maybe you didn't keep your resolutions from last year, and that's really nothing to be ashamed of — according University of Scranton research, only eight percent of people achieve their New Year's goals. But it's a new year and a new opportunity for self-improvement. If you're in a long-term relationship and want it to last, you might want to make some relationship resolutions this year.
There's a lot to keep track of in a long-term relationship: Are you happy? Are they? Is the sex still fulfilling? Are you still on the same page? First things first, touch base with the basic building blocks of a relationship and make sure you're communicating. “Healthy communication in a relationship is important because it is the foundation of any partnership," dating expert and matchmaker Sarah Patt tells Bustle. "Having the confidence to talk openly with your partner, regardless of whether the subject matter is positive or negative, is one of the true signs that you and your partner are practicing healthy communication. Listening, actually hearing what your partner is saying, and processing and responding without reacting overly emotionally is a sign that you are truly understanding what your partner has to say to you."
Once you've gotten the communication lines open, commit to some resolutions for 2017 together. Here are seven relationships resolutions that every grown-ass women should consider making.
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Money in relationships can be tough to navigate, so you need to have a good financial set-up to avoid fights over finances. Whether you need to set a budget and stick to it, be more honest about your spending, or just start saving, it's time to start talking about money. "No matter what their financial situation, couples need to take time to determine their money philosophy, both individually... and as a couple," Jamie Traeger-Muney, a wealth psychologist, tells Bustle.
You can only be in a happy relationship if you're both happy, so take a minute to touch base with your partner about their careers and figure out the best way you can support each other. Does it feel like you're way off from your dream job? Is it time to ask for a raise? Thinking about going back to school? Be realistic about what you'd actually like to be doing and how you're going to get there — this is the year. Map out what you need and help your partner get where they need to be, too.
Part of a relationship is taking care of yourself — it will make you a better partner. Self-compassion is so important and, especially if you've been in a toxic cycle, it's time to figure out how to be better to yourself. “Without self-compassion finding self-love is difficult. Without self-love, finding true love in a relationship is difficult,” divorce and health coach Pam Mirehouse tells Bustle. “People that ‘hate' themselves and are self-critical often do not know how to treat other people with compassion either.”
Start by taking some time to do something you love every day — whether that's your favorite coffee or getting off the subway early for a bit of a walk — then build more and more self-care into your routine.
Relationships go wrong when you get complacent, when you assume that everything is ticking along fine but don't actually take the time to check in with your parter. And if everything seems to be going fine, that's so easy to do. But just because you're satisfied, doesn't mean your partner is. Especially if you know that your partner has trouble bringing things up, it's good to check in and give them a gentle opportunity to bring up things that may be bothering them. And it's easy to do too — it's something you can do daily.
"Try to get each other’s attention throughout the day, whether it’s for support, conversation, interest, play, affirmation, feeling connected or for affection," relationship coach and therapist Anita Chlipala tells Bustle. “Each of these moments is an opportunity to connect with your partner. A person should look for someone who responds to them, or at least acknowledges them when they try to get their attention, because it shows that they are meeting your emotional needs, or at least trying to."
Your resolutions don't all have to be so serious — some goals are just fun to reach. Especially if you're in a long-term relationship, you may just let the sex take a back seat. But when the sex starts to go, intimacy follows, and you need intimacy to keep a relationship strong. Resolve to keep your sex life exciting and different. One question to ask your partner? "What is your fantasy?", psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. "You have to be willing to be open and honest, and the partner has to be willing to grant and try what they share."
It can be incorporating an extra quickie now and again, trying a new location, it doesn't matter. Just keep the communication going and keep the sex fresh, fun, and fulfilling.
If your relationship is important to you, you need to look at incorporating into your life for the long-term. "Relationships take effort," Kelley Kitley, LCSW Owner Of Serendipitous Psychotherapy, LLC, tells Bustle. "Often times people think it 'should' come natural and if you have to 'work' at them you aren’t with the right person. FALSE. Both individuals will be left feeling disappointed if you don’t nourish them. Manage expectations through communication."
A great way to make sure you and your partner both get what you need but also reach your separate goals is to sit down together and map out the next five years. Or if that seems like a lot, focus on the next year or two. What do you want to achieve, what do they want to achieve? How is your relationship going to facilitate that, where are the possible conflicts or areas you might need to compromise? Looking at these issues before they arise can help keep difficulties to a minimum and ensure you both achieve more.
When you're in a couple and working as a unit, it's too easy to get really inward-looking. Instead, look at what you want to do to give back. Whether it's volunteering together, donating money, or even helping out a friend in need, part of being an adult means looking at the world round you, rather than existing just for yourself. Whatever matters to you, there's a way to help out.
Keep these resolutions in mind for when you're thinking about what you want 2017 to look like. Remember, even the happiest couples work toward their relationship.
Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App starting on January 1 for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017.
Images: Hannah Burton/Bustle