dena and erica resolutionsHow are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? January is said to be the most depressing month of the year. There is even a day called blue Monday, which has been pegged as the most depressing day of the year. This year, blue Monday fell on January 20th but the winter blues seem to carry long into the month of February. It is the perfect recipe for disappointment: we have set resolutions, they are now starting to slip, credit card bills are rolling in, the weather is cold and Christmas is behind us, leaving a long winter ahead. All of these variables create tension and friction in our relationships.

What are some of the New Year’s resolutions you and your spouse have set? I often hear comments about being a better husband/wife or having dinners as a family. The reason we start to slip in our resolutions is because we set grandiose expectations and set ourselves up for failure and disappointment. There has got to be a better way! Winter and other external situations cannot be blamed for the lack of time and energy we invest in developing our relationships, we just need to learn how to set realistic relationship resolutions.

Click the below image to see the Rogers Daytime interview about setting realist resolutions. It is missing the last segment, which is summarized below.

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Here are some tips on how to set realistic relationship resolutions:

Keep your resolutions practical.

Resolutions that are too vague, such as being a better spouse, set us up for failure right out of the gate. What does being a better spouse look like? Break down practical little tasks and pick one to start with. Perhaps being a better spouse means asking how your partner’s day was before coming in and unloading about your day. Pick a small practical goal that you can start with, and you can gradually increase from there.

Keep your goals small and achievable.

Goals need to be bite size. When we try to bite off more than what we can chew, we feel overwhelmed and end up feeling like we can’t accomplish the goal. If we set our expectations very high and demand perfection from ourselves, we are guaranteed to fail. The trick is to be realistic, not extreme. Try to avoid going from 0 to 60, but to think realistically about what you can do. For example, make a goal of being intimate with your spouse 2 to 3 times a week rather than 5 to 7 which is often unrealistic. Try to avoid all or nothing thinking and take it one day at a time.

Make sure you can track your progress.

Tracking our goals and success is a major part of reaching the outcome that we want. How do you know that your goal is being met or that your relationship is getting better without tracking the progress? The first step to tracking is to record your goals, keep a chart or journal or even set a reminder in your phone. A couple of examples to this could be, setting a reminder on your phone to text your spouse, putting it in your calendar to have flowers or lunch delivered to your spouse at work, putting a check mark on the days that you were successful at showing appreciation to your spouse instead of criticizing….etc. The options are endless, but it is important to record and track your progress.

Reward yourself and each other.

Rewards are really helpful when working towards goals because they tap into our motivation and desires. For example, if my husband and I really want to get healthy, perhaps we set a plan to lose some weight and reward ourselves with a vacation when we reach our goal. We will work our butts off, not only for the reward of being healthy, but also so that all of our hard work can be rewarded with a trip. Rewards don’t have to cost much; they can be time spent with your spouse, your spouse cleaning the house, or even a small item of clothing or a Starbucks coffee. I don’t know about you, but I can motivate myself to do just about anything if there is some Starbucks involved!

Turn goals into friendly competitions.

When we are talking about setting goals in our relationships, it is really fun to tap into our competitive nature. For example, having a friendly competition of who can give the most hugs in a day, or maybe the first person to lose 10 pounds gets to enjoy a date night organized by their spouse. There are plenty of creative ways to spark competitiveness and playfulness to reach our relationship resolutions.

It is important to keep in mind that our goals should start off easy. They should be so easy that we cannot possibly fail. If we are failing at our goals, it is either because we are not trying/motivated, or because we set lofty resolutions and need to come back to the basics. We ought to start with bite size goals and work our way towards the bigger more intimidating things that we need to work on. Lastly, it is preferable to make your relationship resolutions together with your partner, so that you are both on board and working together. If that isn’t possible, focus your attention towards goals that you can control and work towards individually. Setting out on a mission to change your spouse in the New Year is a losing battle, they only person we can change is ourselves!

I would love to hear from you guys about what relationship resolutions are working and not working for each of you. Thank you for your continued support! Remember to connect and of course that sharing is caring! See you all next week.