5 Resolutions To Make With Your Partner, Because 2019 Is Your Year

One of the best aspects of being in a relationship is that with the right person, you can have the potential to experience immense growth. Being with your SO might teach you how to communicate better, how to avoid fighting “dirty,” how to be more assertive, or how to adopt a more optimistic outlook on life. The best part? That self-growth is something that benefits you both as a unit. New Year’s Resolutions get a bad rap for being unrealistic, but that’s simply because as humans, we struggle with change. Luckily, making some new year’s resolutions with your partner may mean you’re more likely to stick with them. By holding each other accountable for those goals, you can cheer each other on, and celebrate small successes together along the way.

A relationship is a living, breathing thing. You and your SO will mature and change individually, and as a result, your dynamic might experience subtle shifts as well. And that’s not a bad thing at all: In fact, much of the time, those changes demonstrate that you’re learning about yourself: your needs, your fears, your insecurities, your priorities, and your values. Consider the new year a perfect opportunity to think about what changes you’d most like to see in your relationship — and then take action to make them happen by setting these game-changing goals.

Make a daily gratitude list together.

GIC/Stocksy

About six months ago, my boyfriend and I made it a habit of texting each other (Monday through Friday) with one thing we’re grateful for. It could be something as small as being able to sleep in, or having time to cook a healthy dinner. It could be plans we’re looking forward to that weekend. Regardless, routinely adding gratitude into our daily routine has definitely had an impact on our bond.

It’s so easy to get bogged down by all the negative things in life — it’s almost like our minds are often drawn to what’s going wrong rather than what’s going right. And that simple mental exercise of re-focusing on something good can work wonders for your well-being. You might be surprised to see how adopting a more optimistic, grateful mindset may have major effects on your relationship — when you’re hit with challenges or obstacles together, you’ll both be trained to zero in on the positives of the situation.

For every complaint, find a piece of praise.

Lior + Lone/Stocksy

News flash: Your partner is not perfect. Neither of you. There will be things about each other that you may attempt to change. Some of them may be worth trying to improve (like conflict resolution skills). Some of them you might have to let go (like that habit of leaving half-consumed water bottles scattered around the apartment). And while there’s nothing wrong with bringing something that’s bothering you to their attention (in fact, it’s encouraged!), you sort of have to learn to pick your battles. Better yet, you might want to start a new practice: for every complaint you have about your boo, counteract it with a piece of praise.

For example, after telling your partner that their tendency to leave dishes in the sink is bothering you, you might tell them how much you appreciated the meal they cooked the other night. Or, if your SO is constantly late, you could make it a point to tell them that they always look so put-together on your dates, which makes you feel special. I promise you, for everything bae does that leaves you P.O’d, you can find something they do that makes you fall just a little more in love with them every day — and those compliments can make a big difference in softening the blow of berating your SO. This year, make a pact with your partner to work praise into every confrontation and you’re both bound to feel more appreciated and less defensive down the line.

Learn a new skill together.

Christine Love Hewitt/Stocksy

If you’re hoping to shake things up in a long-term relationship, there’s hardly a better New Year’s resolution to make than developing a new skill as a couple. In other words, now is the time to sign up for that Vietnamese cooking class, mixology workshop, or rock climbing lessons.

There are a couple different ways to approach this. You could commit to focusing on one skill you’d like to nurture as a couple over the entire year — whether that’s cooking, fitness, or music related. Or, if you’re feeling super adventurous (and ambitious), you could decide to attempt to adopt one new skill every month. Sites and apps like Groupon and ClassPass make it super easy to test drive different experiences on a budget, so you don’t have to commit to one hobby or activity until you’re sure you both dig it.

Start taking a mid-battle breather.

Alexey Kuzma/Stocksy

Fighting is inevitable in relationships — it’s ultimately how you fight that matters in terms of whether it’s productive or destructive. Here’s a tactic that can totally transform your conflicts for the better: when you sense the tension rising, take a pause — a “time out,” if you will. Take a few deep breaths, and then make it a point to say “I love you.” (For bonus points, make physical contact: A hug or a kiss can trigger the release of those endorphins, AKA the feel-good chemicals).

This does a couple of things: for one, pausing to do some brief deep breathing can help your heart rate return to normal and reverse the damaging effects of that “fight or flight” response that often gets triggered during a fight and causes things to escalate unnecessarily. On top of that, uttering those three little words can sort of jar you back to reality, reminding you of what really matters and reassuring you that this is just a conversation, and it doesn’t change your feelings about each other.

Particularly if you have a tendency to jump to negative conclusions or worst case scenarios during arguments, this is a phenomenal practice to take up. Not only can it put you in a calmer place to resolve your conflict, but it can also help you to stop sweating the small stuff. Who knows? After saying “I love you,” you might forget why you were fighting in the first place.

Make mutual plans to unplug regularly.

Kristin Rogers Photography/Stocksy

We’ve all seen that couple on their phones — you know, where each is scrolling through Instagram while they wait for the check rather than even attempting to make conversation. Maybe you’ve even found yourself in that situation. The point is, one wants to be that couple. Our smartphones, tablets, smart watches, etc. can serve as major distractions from our interactions IRL — and it’s those face-to-face interactions that are the most meaningful. So this year, both of you can make it a point to show your relationship some respect by finding a regular time to unplug.

Maybe Sunday is your designated device-free day, or maybe every day you take a couple of hours around dinner to catch up on what happened at work without the distraction of your phone buzzing. It’s all about finding what’s realistic for both of you to commit to, based on the nature of your work and your lifestyles. Committing to quality time together with no emailing, Snapchat or Facebook will not only allow you to make more memories together (since you won’t be wasting time scrolling through your feeds), but it will also help you both to focus on staying "in the moment” — which is so key to a healthy, happy bond.

New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t be something you dread, or feel obligated to do. They should be habits you adopt because you know that in the long run, they’ll pay off. And making any (or all) of these resolutions with your boo will no doubt translate to major rewards, from enhancing your communication and minimizing stress during conflict to adding the excitement back into your bonding time. Dang — it’s safe to say that 2019 is looking fine in the romance department.