Making the Most of a New Year
by Sara L. Wood, Ph.D., LPC
Happy New Year and Welcome to 2019! I know it is not the case for everyone, but I always get excited when its time to celebrate a new year. For me, ringing in a new year means excitement and the sense of a fresh start: 12 new months to try again, 365 new days to do something different, and the potential for so many things to change. We can draft out these hoped-for changes in our hearts and minds and even on paper as we construct resolutions to make the most of the new year before us.
This year, I will spend money differently.
This year, I will start working out regularly.
This year, I will actually use my vacation days.
This year, I will eat more healthy foods.
This year, I will make more time for the things that matter.
This year, I will….
The possibilities are endless and the hope is invigorating as we dream about all that the new year can hold.
While many people, myself included, go through this process individually, I have found it can also be incredibly helpful to do so as a couple and set your intentions for your relationships in the new year. For my husband and I, this looks like sitting down around December/January every year and taking some time to honestly and lovingly discuss the past year and outline goals for the next. We started a few years ago, and now have a set check-in to guide our discussion. Usually over dinner or coffee (hint-hint for a date night ), we focus our conversation on the following:
What went well over the past year? What did we like most?
What did not go well? What was most frustrating?
What do we want to keep doing in the New Year?
What do we want to see change?
How can we make those things happen?
This is the year we will…
Now, the goal here is not to place blame or dredge up wrongs that still need to be addressed, but to come together in unity to constructively work on setting the tone and direction for our marriage in the year to come. As with the majority of resolutions, we will not complete them perfectly, but it at least gives us something to strive for and an intentionality that we can both refer to and work towards together.
This year, we will make our marriage a priority.
This year, we will keep our regularly scheduled date night each week.
This year, we will take at least one family vacation over the summer.
This year, we will make a concerted effort to pray BEFORE we argue.
This year, we will make time each week to prayer for each other.
This year, we will set aside one day per month per spouse as a spiritual retreat.
This year, we will…
Each year, we actually look forward to our new year’s date night and evaluation session. While discussing the not so good parts is not always fun, it helps us maintain perspective and see the real things we need to address. We also enjoy reliving the good parts and planning for the great things we want to see for our next year together. If you’ve never tried this before, I encourage you try it out. If all of the above questions seem like a lot to start with, try discussing just two simple questions: What do you want for your marriage in 2019 and what can you do to make that happen?