Yes, it’s that time of year again! It’s the time when we take time out to reflect upon everything that was both good and bad for us during the past year.
It is also the time for us to think about how we can improve ourselves and our relationships by making resolutions.
Before the end of the year, resolve to:
1. Figure Out What You Want From Your Relationship and Communicate It To Your Partner
Individuals in relationships spend inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out what they want from themselves in a relationship, as well as what they want from their partners. The lack of individual clarity, poor communication, guessing, and fear contribute to people struggling in their relationships. Spend time talking with your partner or spouse about the challenges you're having, and then come up with a goal (i.e. what type of relationship you will have, the quality and quantity of time, expectations, etc.). This can reduce the amount of confusion and valuable time wasted. If your partner is unwilling to change, compromise, or accept your terms, then you need to figure out if the relationship you have is the type of relationship you really want. For example, I recently spoke with a woman who wanted her partner to define the relationship by acknowledging that she was his girlfriend. She indicated that they had spent a significant amount of time together and had even met each others' families over the past year. I asked her about the importance of a title (i.e. boyfriend/girlfriend) and she said that it was really important for her to define what they had. After an argument with her partner about "giving each other space," he asserted that they weren't "going together" anyway. I then asked how she felt and she indicated that she was devastated by his comments because she loved him and felt "pushed away." However, she wanted to wait to see how things would turn out. Loving our partners can only be accomplished if we love ourselves.
In 2009, challenge yourself to find clarity for yourself about what you want and what you want for your relationship.
2. Spend Time Alone Reflecting Upon the Good Things Going On In Your Life
Because we are faced with challenges each day in life, it is very easy to forget about the good things and good people who are around us. Taking time out to recognize/acknowledge the people who make our lives easier and the small "treasures" around us keeps us emotionally and spiritually balanced. When my couples come in for therapy, they often harbor a complaint about themselves, their situation or their partners. During the session though, I invite them to focus on the positive attributes about people as well as the individual strengths that each person has. Sometimes, it’s difficult for people to recognize the positive things going on in their lives because some people can be very negative. We don't compliment each other as much as we put each other down, and it’s very easy to forget about the "hidden treasures" of our experiences which are usually right in front of us.
3. Appreciate the Friendships That You Have
"The healing is in the relationships," is a tenet used by many counselors/therapists who do addiction work. It is believed that forming positive relationships with people can fill the void of loneliness and gives others the opportunity to reflect back what is good about us. Building and sustaining friendships is important because we need people in our lives to offer us input, to give assistance and to share our daily challenges and triumphs. Thus, it is important that we openly acknowledge and celebrate the positive people and friendships we have, because they enable us to be better people.
4. Forgive Myself and My Partner for Past Errors
Finding forgiveness is important for us and our relationships. Too often, we hold ourselves and our partners responsible for making mistakes that occurred months—sometimes years before. If we are unable to forgive our partners, then we must figure out if it is better to remain in an unhealthy relationship where we cannot truly be free to express ourselves, or if we should sever the relationship and move on.
Warm wishes to you and yours in 2009!