Although I’m about to suggest some resolutions to enrich your relationship, I recommend that you commit to just one, after first selecting carefully. You want to promise to do something that is doable now.
Accept the Truth
Be honest with yourself. You or your relationship may need to grow a bit before you’ll be ready to act on one or more of the ideas below.
As you read the sample resolutions below, suggested by Ellen Kreidman, Ph.D. in her Light His Fire and Light Her Fire programs, congratulate yourself for how well you are doing already. About the resolutions you’re not ready to implement, that’s fine too. You can do things to progress to the point where you will be able to improve your outlook and actions.
Here is Dr. Kreidman’s list of promises (slightly paraphrased) for spouses to make to each other:
- I promise to love you for who you are and not ask you to be who you’re not.
- I promise to respect the fact that your ideas are different from mine but hold as much truth for you as mine do for me.
- I promise to verbalize and demonstrate my admiration for you as a person.
- I promise to care more about you and your feelings than about being right and to listen without judging.
- I promise to take responsibility for my own happiness and not expect you to provide it for me.
- I promise to love myself because the more I’m able to love myself the more I’m able to give to you.
- I promise to acknowledge my own feelings and to share them with you.
- I promise to pay equal attention to your emotional and to your physical need for closeness.
- I promise to treat you as the most important person in my life because you are.
Please do not expect to do all of these things right away. You don’t want to get so overwhelmed that you give up on keeping any promise.
Here are a few examples of how to start small:
- If you’ve been critical of your introverted partner for not acting more outgoing, you might want to choose the resolution: “I promise to love you always for who you are and not ask you to be who you’re not.”
- If you’ve become depressed or resentful from behaving like a martyr, taking care of others but neglecting self-care, you might want to resolve: “I promise to love myself because the more I’m able to love myself the more I’m able to give to you.”
- If you’ve been forgetting to attend to your partner’s needs, you might resolve: “I promise to treat you as the most important person in my life because you are.”
About the resolution, “I promise to pay equal attention to your emotional and and to your physical need for closeness,” this is great for couples who have the trust and are ready to implement it. The challenge comes, especially for women, and for many men too, when trusting and loving feelings have diminished. Perhaps a better resolution in such a case is: “I will do whatever it takes to restore trust and love in our relationship.”
In a basically healthy relationship, a practical resolution from the above list for someone who wants to increase loving feelings could be “I promise to acknowledge my own feelings and to share them with you.” A good resolution for this person’s partner would be, “I promise to care more about you and your feelings than about being right and to listen without judging.”
Such communication between spouses is likely to increase emotional intimacy and consequently, a restored desire for physical intimacy. In a relationship where partners are not yet ready to implement such resolutions, a more practical pledge would be “I promise to receive individual or couples therapy from a licensed professional.”
Whatever you resolve, I wish you a 2015 that fulfills you in all the important ways — emotionally, spiritually, physically and materially.