With 2020 quickly approaching, it's time to reflect and think about what you want for yourself and your relationship in the year ahead. Do you want to get engaged? Do you want to communicate better? Do you want to fall in love with your partner all over again? Whether you've been with your partner for the past five months or five years, the beginning of the new year brings you an opportunity to give your relationship a fresh start.
"There's something about the new year that gives everyone an energy and excitement to change," Belah Rose, intimacy and marriage coach, tells Bustle. "Use this enthusiasm and direct it to your relationship."
Regardless of your exact relationship goals for 2020, an easy way to give your relationship a fresh start is to take it back to the very beginning, says Rose. "Put yourself in the mode of meeting your partner for the very first time." Think about what went through your head when you first met them and what made you fall for them. When you think of your relationship as brand new, you can easily bring back excitement for your relationship.
Here are some more ways to give your relationship a refresh, according to relationship experts.
Do A Ritual To Let Go Of the Past
To really give yourself a fresh start in 2020, it's important to let go of the negative thoughts and feelings that are holding you back from having the relationship that you want. "Grudges are an awfully heavy thing to carry around, and being weighed down as you step into a new year is not good for you, your partner, or your relationship," Jenny Block, sex and relationship expert, tells Bustle. Make it a point to let go of hurt feelings and disagreements, and agree to start the year with a clean slate.
You can even do a ritual to help you let go of the past, Block says. Make a list of all the things you both want to leave behind and then burn it or rip it up into little pieces. If you're anywhere near water, you can take a rock, hold it in your hand and think about what you want to release. Once you're ready, throw the rock as far as you can into the water.
Learn Each Other's Love Languages
The start of the new year is a good time to talk about your love languages, aka how your partner expresses love. Is it through words or do they show it by doing acts of service? "It might sound cheesy, but it’s truly important to understand how you and your partner both like to receive love, so then you know the best way to give it," Julie Lauren, relationship expert and author of Oops!: An Insider’s Guide to Dating, Sex, and Relationships in Your 20s, tells Bustle.
Create A Plan For The Year Ahead
To make the most out of the new year, write out some intentions and create a plan together. Maybe you want to take a week-long trip for your anniversary or find a new hobby you can do together. "When you plan and work on something together, it can help give a fresh start to any relationship," Block says.
If that plan involves doing something new, it can give you and your partner an opportunity to see each other in a new light.
Schedule Weekly Check-Ins
When life gets busy it's easy to put your relationship on the backburner without realizing it. To help make your relationship a priority in 2020, jot down weekly check-ins in your calendar in the same way you'd schedule a meeting with your boss.
"Each person brings an agenda and meets for one to two hours with no distractions," Barbara Morrison, psychotherapist who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle. This "meeting" is meant to help you both solve problems and discuss things that each person is happy or unhappy about in the relationship.
Change Up Your Bedroom
To bring new positive energy into your relationship, the beginning of the new year is a good time to clean, rearrange, and redecorate your bedroom together. Morrison recommends making the space uncluttered and appealing to both of you. "It's important to make this space appealing to all of one’s sensory experiences," Morrison says.
Commit To Working On Issues As They Come
You don't need to be on the verge of a breakup to see a couple's counselor. Morrison says it's not a bad idea to make appointments to see a counselor twice a year for maintenance purposes.
If you're going through challenges, schedule in something sooner. "Don’t wait to see a therapist if you’re having difficulty working out issues," Morrison says. "The longer you wait, the more difficult to repair the relationship."
If you don't want to go to a therapist, make a commitment to repair your relationship as issues arise. "If you’ve done something or said something that harms the other, make sure to repair quickly by being accountable for your actions," Morrison says. Saying sorry is a start, but it's even more important to put in the work to make change.
Say Nice Things About Your Partner To Others
Criticism doesn't cause positive behavior changes, it causes resentment, Dr. Kathy Nickerson, licensed psychologist and relationship expert, tells Bustle.
Make it a point to start the year by focusing on your partner's positive qualities and what you appreciate about them. And don't keep it all to yourself. Morrison says it's important to express genuine pride in your relationship with other people. It may even change the way you look at your partner.
Talk About Your Individual Hopes & Dreams
What do you want to accomplish for yourself in 2020? It's not only important to talk about your goals as a couple, it's also important to talk about your individual goals, dreams, and ideas. According to Dr. Nickerson, this can add some new life into your relationship.
See if there are any shared dreams that you can work on together like running a marathon or starting your own business. "Supporting other's dreams can really strengthen your emotional connection," Dr. Nickerson says.
Break Personal Habits That Aren't Serving You
Reflect on your habits and behaviors to see if there's anything that's harmful to your relationship. "The new year is a great time to do a personal inventory," Dr. Nickerson says.
Maybe you're a little too emotionally reactive when you hear something you don't like, or maybe you tend to get aggressive during fights. Once you pinpoint the specific ways that you could improve, keep it in mind, and make a point to work on it. You can even let your partner know that you're taking responsibility and looking to change.
Find Something Fun To Do Together
Creating a fresh start isn't only about working on issues or breaking habits — it can be fun, too. "If your relationship feels a little blah, try to curate more fun moments for the two of you," Dr. Nickerson says.
Play games, flirt with each other, go on an adventure, or try something new to decrease stress. Doing something at the beginning of the year that makes you laugh and smile will set a good tone for the year ahead.
Talk About Sex
Use the new year to check in with your partner about how they're feeling about your sex life. "Sexual communication has always been a strong predictor of sexual relationship quality," Dr. Nicole Prause, Ph.D, founder of Liberos, a sexual biotechnology company, tells Bustle.
According to Prause, many people will hold off on having a sex talk because they don't want to be judged or brushed off. But if you do it at the beginning of the year as part of your discussion on the goals you want to accomplish, you can have a productive conversation about it.
Come Up With New Relationship Rituals For 2020
Relationship rituals are small intentional things that you do each day to keep your connection alive, like having breakfast together every morning or giving each other a kiss before you leave for work. As Amy Hartle, relationship and marriage expert, tells Bustle, "These little gestures are small, but they add up to a lifetime of love."
If you already have your routine all set, find little ways to shake it up a bit. Instead of texting each other during lunch breaks, try Facetiming during lunch every Wednesday. You can even create new traditions for holidays, birthdays, and long weekends that bond you and will give you something to look forward to, Margaux Cassuto, relationship expert and matchmaker, tells Bustle.
While you can refresh your relationship at any point in time, New Year's often feels like the perfect starting point to set intentions and make exciting changes.
Belah Rose, intimacy and marriage coach
Jenny Block, sex and relationship expert
Lana Otoya, dating coach and founder of Millennialships.com
Julie Lauren, author of Oops!: An Insider’s Guide to Dating, Sex, and Relationships in Your 20s
Barbara Morrison, psychotherapist and author of Fully Half Committed
Dr. Kathy Nickerson, licensed psychologist and relationship expert
Dr. Nicole Prause, Ph.D. of Liberos
Sarah Nadler, minister and relationship coach
Amy Hartle, relationship and marriage expert
Margaux Cassuto, relationship expert and matchmaker
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