New Year's resolutions for couples

Author: Canadian Living


New Year's resolutions for couples

It's that time of year again: The time when you start thinking about the year ahead and planning the changes that will make this year better than the last. In addition to the usual New Year's resolutions -- hitting the gym, calling your mom more often -- why not make some joint resolutions with your partner to help strengthen your love and relationship.

For some ideas on how to make this a fabulous year in both life and love we turned to Kimberly Moffit, a Toronto-based therapist who specializes in couples counselling.

1. Make travel plans
"I always ask my clients things like: 'What is your dream trip and what would it take to get you there?'" says Moffit. Couples are often so engrossed in the hustle and bustle of their family life that they forget about the dreams they once held, such as travelling.

Reminding yourselves of those dreams, and resolving to make them a reality, can be an exciting and romantic bonding experience for a couple. "It is something that couples can work and save toward together, something they can get excited about together, and something that they can experience together," says Moffit.

2. Spend more time with your extended family
Most people assume that spending time with the in-laws is more likely to cause strife than to conjure up feelings of romance. But Moffit maintains that the opposite is actually possible. "Spending more time with your in-laws or with your extended family goes a long way toward creating a strong family bond," says Moffit. "And you can often learn a lot about your partner's behaviours by experiencing the atmosphere in which they were raised."

Moffit suggests making the resolution to have members of the extended family over for dinner once a month -- or even once a week -- in order to strengthen not only your own relationship, but also the relationship of your family.

3. Learn a new skill
"Undertaking a new challenge is a great bonding experience for a couple," says Moffit, who suggests activities such as dance lessons, horseback riding or cooking classes. "It can be a very humbling experience for a couple because it is something that's new to both of you."

Check out local listings for activities in your area and resolve that you and your partner will both learn to do something new, together. "It can also be a lot of fun because it can make you feel like you're newly dating again," says Moffit.

Page 1 of 2 -- Find three easy ways to strengthen your relationship this year with more resolution ideas on page 2
4. Get fit together
One of the most common New Year's resolutions people make in the new year is to lose weight and get healthy. And unfortunately, many of these resolutions fail by Feb. 1. Why? Because it isn't always easy to motivate yourself when you're flying solo. "I tell my clients that it is always better to have a partner when it comes to getting physically fit," says Moffit. "You are more likely to succeed if you do it together because it is much more motivating when you have someone to share the experience with."

Resolve to support and encourage each other in getting fit by laying out a fitness schedule that works for both of you, making healthy grocery lists together and doing activities such as walking, running or hitting the gym together whenever you can.

5. Set a date night
"This an absolute requirement for all the couples I counsel," says Moffit. "The number one thing you can do for yourselves as a couple is to set aside a date night." Even if busy schedules and raising a family make it difficult, resolving to set aside one night that is just for you and your partner at least every two weeks is one of the best ways to ensure that your love stays strong and flourishes.

"It is your time and you can treat it like you're dating again," says Moffit. "When couples aren't connecting the way they would like to, sometimes they keep things bottled up. Date nights are a good opportunity to have a time and a place where you can share those things you might be feeling."

6. Make better financial decisions
Want to take that dream trip mentioned earlier? Dying to sign up for that sushi-making class? Resolving to make better financial decisions as a couple is going to allow you to do these things and more. "Financial decisions always require people to work together as a team," says Moffitt.

"It can be tough in the beginning because people tend to blame each other for the financial problems they have gotten themselves into, but with a little hard work it will pay off." Even a small change, such as resolving to set aside a small amount of each paycheque to put toward something you both really want -- or to put toward your retirement plans -- will help grow your relationship for the future.

Keeping New Year's resolutions is something everyone vows to do each year and too often we let them fall by the wayside far too soon. Have fun with your partner this year and come up with resolutions that you can really get excited about. Then take on the challenge, encourage each other, laugh together and watch your bond grow as a result.

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New Year's resolutions for couples