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January 20, 2021

3 Relationship-Focused New Year’s Resolutions to Set in 2021

By: Caitlin McNulty

2020 has been a year unlike any other, and all of the significant changes in your daily routine may be threatening the strength of your romantic relationship. Although you and your partner still deeply love each other, months of stay-at-home orders, working remotely, and social distancing may have caused some monotony in your relationship. The events and activities that once excited you and your partner in the beginning of your relationship now seem normal and unexciting due to their reoccurrence. If you feel as though you and your partner have reached a stalemate in relationship excitement, try engaging in the activities below to combat boredom and reignite passion and commitment in your relationship.

  1. Find New and Exciting Activities to Do Together: One reason your relationship may feel dull lately is because you and your partner have fallen into a routine. You may have made a habit in only partaking in certain activities when you are together, especially because COVID-19 has limited the number of different activities you can safely participate in together. While it is good that you and your partner have found common interests, finding a new, exciting activity to do together can greatly enhance your relationship satisfaction. Researchers have found that when you and your partner engage in a new and exciting activity together, you will experience greater relationship quality and express more positive behaviors toward one another. This can occur for various reasons. Firstly, it can lead to a heightened sense of arousal, which increases your attraction to your partner. Secondly, partaking in an activity in which you and your partner must work together reignites cooperation and a sense of teamwork in your relationship. Finally, successfully completing a new and exciting activity can increase your positive emotions overall, which will carry over into a positive view of your romantic relationship. Engaging in a new and exciting activity can increase your relationship satisfaction in a multitude of ways and get you and your partner out of your rut. Next time you are planning a date night, instead of going to dinner at your favorite restaurant or going to the movies, suggest something more exciting that you have never done before – such as hiking, attending an outdoor concert or event, dancing, or going to an escape room. Step outside of your comfort zone as a couple and feel your relationship satisfaction drastically increase.
  2. Avoid Using Your Cell Phone when Spending Time Together: A lot of us are overly attached to our cell phones and struggle to step away from our screens throughout the day. Although it is beneficial to connect with others so easily – especially when we cannot safely see our friends and family in person during the pandemic – constantly checking social media or being a call or text away from family, friends, and coworkers 24/7 can be threatening your relationship satisfaction. Research shows that when one partner is glued to his or her cell phone while in the presence of the other partner, the couple’s relationship satisfaction can deteriorate – especially if one partner wants to be communicating but the other chooses to be on their phone. This situation can cause couples to argue about appropriate cell phone use while together. However, you and your partner can avoid this conflict by specifying certain times in your day to spend technology-free. You and your partner can lay some easy ground rules to make sure you are on the same page regarding cell phone use. Suggest not using your cell phone while eating meals together, not using your cell phone for an hour or two before bed at night, or not using your cell phone when waking up in the morning until after eating breakfast. By setting aside time to be in each other’s presence technology-free, you will avoid bickering about cell phone use by designating times to effectively communicate and spend quality time together.
  3. Express Gratitude Toward Your Partner More Frequently: After spending a significant amount of time with your partner – especially when quarantining together – it can become easy to overlook everything he or she does for you because it begins to feel normal. However, take a minute to stop and think about everything your partner does for you to make your daily life easier and help decrease your pandemic-related stress. Being actively grateful for everything your partner does for you has multiple benefits for improving your relationship satisfaction. Firstly, showing appreciation for your partner has a reciprocal effect. Your partner will feel more appreciative of you when you demonstrate your appreciation for them. This cyclical nature of appreciation increases a couples’ closeness by making them more responsive and aware of one another’s needs. This dynamic increases a couples’ commitment to one another, which increases overall relationship satisfaction. Next time your partner does the dishes after dinner, takes the dog out for a walk, or brings you coffee in the morning, make sure to thank them out loud so that they are aware of how grateful you are for them. Your partner will appreciate the fact that you noticed their efforts and will want to continue to do things for you. Don’t forget to also do things for your partner in return. This way, you will both be appreciative of the role you play in each other’s lives and feel more committed to one another. No matter how long you have been with someone, it is important to remind them that their contributions to the relationship are not going unnoticed.

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