I don’t know about you, but I actually really like New Years resolutions.
Yes, they get a bad rap. We see headline after headline about the dismal follow-through that people seem to have around these New Year, New Me commitments—for instance, that fewer than 8% of people actually stick to their goals (apparently) or that most people end up giving up on their aims before the end of January—and the most cynical among us tend to scoff at the idea that the simple turn of a calendar page could ever have some sort of magical, Pixie dust-like effect on our motivation.
But I find that setting resolutions, big or small, tends to get the creative juices flowing. Resolutions help us shift our perspective, visualize a future for ourselves that engenders hope, and maybe, just maybe, inspire new, more productive and beneficial actions in the present.
Resolutions aren’t just relegated to the individual, either. If you’re currently in a committed relationship, here are three inspiring relationship goals for you and your spouse to set (and stick to) for your “New Year, New Us” vision.
3 Inspiring Couple Goals for 2022
If any of the following goals truly speak to you and your spouse, feel free to use them! But don’t feel pressured to use all or even any of these suggestions. They’re simply meant to get you thinking so you both can land on ideas that are personally meaningful. Go ahead, team—get dreaming!
1. Go on Weekly/Monthly/Quarterly Dates
Busy lives tend to leave little room for quality time with your spouse. By planning ahead and penciling in fun dates, you’ll have something to look forward to and be more likely to actually make room in your schedule for that oh-so-important quality time.
Some weekly/monthly/quarterly date ideas include:
- Couples’ massage
- Hikes (new trails or old favorites)
- Mini-getaways to a nearby hotel
- Plays and other local entertainment
- Shared showers or baths
- New recipes made together at home
- Foreign film night (or horror flick, or Rom Com, etc.)—no phones!
2. Complete a Shared Pay It Forward Challenge
Doing kind things for others benefits the doers as much as the receivers. Witness you and your spouse making a positive impact on your friends and community by setting regular goals such as:
- Minimum monthly volunteer hours
- Scheduled charitable donations
- “Just because” gifts to couple friends or family members (e.g., a free night of babysitting, a nice bottle of wine, an unexpected card, etc.)
- “Secret” benefactor acts (e.g., hiding $5 Visa gift cards around town or in stores, paying for the coffee or groceries of someone in line behind you)
3. Try a Complaining “Fast”
Can you give up complaining about your spouse for an entire month? How about a week—or even just a single day?
I’m not insinuating that complaints are “wrong,” or that issues in your relationship shouldn’t be properly brought up and addressed. But making a conscious effort to give up complaining has this weird little effect of helping us become more aware of just how often we tend to complain in the first place.
If you try this goal, the idea is to:
- Simply notice—without judgment—how often you nag, complain about, or criticize your spouse, whether in your head or out loud
- Turn down the volume on your complaint channel and instead allow the space where a complaint used to go to be filled with quiet observation
- Tack on an explicit expression of gratitude (even if you just think it to yourself or write it in a journal) every time you catch yourself complaining
Before We Wrap Up: A Few Practical Thoughts on Goal-Setting
Change, even when backed by the absolute best intentions for yourself and your spouse, can be hard. Here are some things to keep in mind that might help:
- Aim high but set the bar low. Do NOT be afraid to have “big” goals (for both your marriage and yourself as an individual), but be sure that you chunk those goals into small, exceedingly doable action steps. By setting the bar low, you’ll be more likely to see yourself going from “to do” to “done”, which helps keep your momentum going and helps you build sticky new habits. As an example, if your goal is to start exercising together, you and your spouse might set an initial goal of taking a 10-minute walk after dinner every night for a month. Action begets action!
- Write them down. Yes, research shows that writing down your goals can significantly increase your chances of actually achieving them. My suggestion? Once you and your spouse decide on some shared goals that are genuinely meaningful, sit down together and write them down—in a journal, on a whiteboard posted on your fridge, or anywhere else where you can see your goals frequently so they stay top of mind.
- Get someone to help hold yourself accountable. Setting goals as a couple automatically gives you both someone who can help you follow through on your resolutions. But having someone outside the relationship adds a level of ownership and accountability that can really come in handy when (inevitably) your motivation levels occasionally trend low. A counselor or licensed marriage and family therapist could be a great solution for this, but you could also consider a spiritual advisor or trusted family friend, too.
- Look for measurable metrics. A goal such as “Improve our marriage” is wonderful, but it’s a bit vague. What does “improving our marriage” mean, exactly? What does that look like? How would you and your spouse actually know if you’ve accomplished that goal? See if you can come up with goals that focus on actions (e.g., we go on X number of dates per month) rather than vague outcomes (we’re “happier” or we “fight less”). By focusing on genuine actions, the positive outcomes you’re looking for tend to fall into place. (This is similar to how setting weekly exercise and diet actions—”I workout for 30 minutes three times per week”—can be more effective at helping you lose weight rather than simply saying, “I lose 10 pounds”).
Excited To Elevate Your Marriage in 2022?
You and your partner deserve to have a healthy, fulfilling, and loving relationship. If you live near Fort Lauderdale, FL and are interested in discovering how marriage counseling can help you strengthen and redefine your bond, contact Couples Thrive today at 954-654-9609 to schedule an appointment.