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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

16 Relationship Resolutions Every Couple Should Make

Surprise: It's not enough to just tell your partner you love them! Pick one (or more!) of these expert relationship resolutions to make 2019 the year you star in your own personal rom-com, happy ending and all.

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Avoid the ‘automatic no’ trap

“In 2018, resolve that you will do what your partner prefers unless you have a strong objection to doing it. This is important because it makes your partner feel heard and like their input matters. On the fence? Ask yourself: ‘Is this something worth getting into an argument about?’ Because very few things are.” —Judi Bloom, PsyD, licensed marriage and family therapist in Santa Monica, California. And make sure you’re not guilty of any of these 31 relationship habits that are actually dangerous.

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Coupleg stockstudio/Shutterstock

Be a partner, not a player

“Resolve that you will focus on what is best for the couple and not just what is best for you, individually. This is important because a solid relationship requires putting the needs of the couple first whenever possible, compromising solutions to problems, and keeping communication flowing for a strong connection.” —Bloom

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Don’t turn a molehill into a mountain

“This year, couples should resolve to not let little upsets grow into big ones. Little things can become big things if they aren’t addressed head on. So be honest with your partner if they have upset you. Tell them what they have done, why it upset you, and come up with a solution together.” Mitzi Bockmann, counselor and certified life coach for women 

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Don’t forget to have fun!

“Couples are told to spend time together, but it’s more important that their time together is positive. Having fun together results in a closeness that keeps couples feeling more connected, both emotionally and physically. So this year, chose to spend time together doing things that will make you laugh.” —Mitzi Bockmann

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CoupleDmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock

Answer this tough question—honestly

“Come up with a list of things you can do to improve your relationship. Instead of saying what your partner should or could do better, consider how you contribute to the challenges and how you can work on your part. After all, your power lies with yourself, you simply cannot change another person.” Linda Stiles, licensed social worker and psychotherapist in Lenexa, Kansas. Need an idea? Try one of these 8 strategies to reconnect and repair your relationship.

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Question your feelings before letting them fly

“When you get upset, before you lash out first, ask yourself why? What is it about the situation that upsets you so much? How is that familiar in your past? The same applies for your partner. Think ‘Wow, he/she is having a strong reaction. What is that really about?’ If you can stay curious, you can avoid getting defensive and fighting. Look for clues to help you better understand and respond.” Linda Stiles. Still worrying? Use these 9 ways to stop paranoia from destroying your marriage.

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Love is spelled T-I-M-E

“You can’t meet one another’s needs well if you aren’t spending enough time together. Happy couples tend to have at least eight to ten hours a week of quality time together. This can include date nights but also things like household projects or chores.” Wyatt Fisher, PhD, licensed psychologist and niche dating site founder, in Boulder, Colorado. Your busy schedule is just one of 9 common behaviors sabotaging your relationship.

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CoupleUber Images/shutterstock

Say the two most important relationship words every day

“Resolve to say ‘thank you’ every day this year. Couples often slip from admiration to criticism over the course of their relationship. Therefore, partners must intentionally look for the good and express it often to cultivate an attitude of gratitude within the relationship.” —Dr. Fisher. And it doesn’t have to be hard, try these 13 ridiculously simple ways to say thank you.

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Remember: It’s not always so personal

“Your attitude can change everything, so if your partner’s words or actions upset you, decide to keep it light and not to take it personally. Often what others say about you isn’t really about you, it’s about them and how they feel about themselves.” Angela Lenhardt, counselor, life coach, speaker and author of A Charmed Journey: An Inspired Guide to Personal Transformation

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Dirty dishes in the sink? Let it go

“Everyone wants to be loved and accepted, regardless of their faults. This year, resolve to pay attention to what your partner’s goals and desires are, and focus on what that can teach you about the relationship. And when your own personal insecurities arise, they will do the same for you and you can grow together with acceptance and love.” —Lenhardt. Bonus: This is one of the 8 bad habits to break if you want to avoid marriage counseling.

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CoupleChristian Bertrand/Shutterstock

Don’t throw away those vacation brochures

“January sometimes feels a bit flat after the excitement of the festive season, so resolve to book a weekend break sometime in the coming year. This could be as simple as an overnight stay in a different city or going to a concert.” Alex Reddle, counselor, online dating specialist, and chief editor of the blog.

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The couple that serves together, stays together

“A great resolution is to get involved in a worthwhile charity venture together, like a race or fundraiser. You’ll have great fun training together, egging each other on, and all for an excellent cause. Plus, you’ll make great memories.” —Reddle. Or try one of these 19 ways to strengthen your relationship in just one hour.

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Affectionate-coupleRocketclips Inc./Shutterstock

Stop making assumptions

“Make this the year you consciously make fewer assumptions. Start by creating guidelines with your partner on how you both navigate and communicate during times where there is concern, misunderstanding, or a difficult issue is essential. Then you won’t be tempted guess what they really mean, leading to a happier relationship.” Lawrence Lovell, counselor, coach, and the founder of Breakthrough SolutionsPractice these 11 strategies for improving your communication skills.

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Do the three “A’s” every day

“Resolve to do the ‘triple A checklist’ daily, consisting of attention, affection, and appreciation. We all need attention, affection, and the feeling of being appreciated in our life, and it is great when you can give and get that from your partner on a regular basis.” —Lovell. Don’t be shy! Here are 11 times it’s okay to show a little PDA.

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Make 5 your lucky number

“Research has found that happy couples have a ratio of at least five positive interactions for every one negative interaction. This year resolve to be intentional about doing or saying at least five good things for you spouse every day. Some ideas include sending a small text of encouragement, doing a chore the other hates, putting down your phone when your partner is talking to you, and planning a date night.” —Kristina Zufall, MEd, a couples counselor in Houston, Texas. Hint: This is one of the top 10 daily habits of couples in healthy relationships.

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Schedule a daily debrief

“I encourage couples to make a resolution to schedule 15 to 20 minutes each day for a number of reasons: You have something to look forward to throughout your day. You demonstrate to your partner that they are a priority and the relationship is a priority. You can use this as a time to show your partner care an support. The point is to spend time talking every day.” —Zufall

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.