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3162445168_23c66a1cc6_zA New Year is here and, with the fresh start, many people have set their personal goals and resolutions for the year. We all have areas in our lives we’d like to improve, things we’d like to accomplish, and a bucket list of places to see. But what about your relationship with your spouse?

We all have hectic lives and finding time to reconnect with your spouse may not always be on your mind. This year, take some time to set goals to reconnect and improve your relationship with your spouse. Through setting goals with your spouse, you not only hold each other accountable for reaching your relationship goals, but can rekindle the romance, learn new things about each other, and enjoy a happier life together.

To help get you started, here are 6 relationship goals to start with your spouse in the New Year:

1. Spend more time together. Between running the kids around, your job (and the commute), and other daily interruptions, spending time with your spouse can get pushed aside and, in time, makes you forget those special little moments together. Reconnect with your spouse this year by setting aside time each day to spend quality time together; making it a daily ritual. Plan a date night, at least twice a month, with your spouse to give yourself some time to connect and enjoy each other’s company.

Some fun ideas: grab your binoculars and go birdwatching, check out an improv show, wander a bookstore, explore local attractions as if your tourists, or pull out your favorite childhood game for a night of laughs.

2. Improve conflict resolution. Even in the most healthy marriages, arguments and little disagreements arise. Set a goal this year to learn better strategies for open communication and how to settle conflict more peacefully.

A few tips to start applying today, take some time to cool off. In the heat of the moment, you’re more likely to say something you’ll regret later. Instead step away from the fight and allow yourself to let your anger dissipate so both you and your spouse can come back to the situation with cooler heads and ready to compromise.

Some other techniques to incorporate to your fight or disagreement, take some time to ask for feedback or clarification. Rephrase what is being said, for example, “What I hear you saying is X because Y, is that correct?” The more you can identify the problems/issues the better you can learn from them, move forward, and grow.

3. Unplug from technology. We live in a digital age and between all our devices, it’s easy to miss out on the important things in life. Take some time each day to unplug, put your electronics away, and spend some quality time with your spouse. Set a block of time to finish your tasks so you can spend the rest of your evening together without the interruption of emails, tweets, and other digital platforms.

4. Practice emotional honesty. Sharing your feelings, even with your spouse, is not something many of are good at, especially when jealousy or the ego is involved. However, take a moment to practice being emotionally honest with your spouse. While being emotionally honest with your spouse, practice saying “I feel” instead of “You made me feel,” which can put your spouse on the defensive and turns the whole situation into a blame fest.

As you practice emotional honesty, you have to first take ownership of your feelings and understand you see your spouse as a mirror to your inner world. If you accept responsibility over your own emotions, then you can work towards finding common ground with your spouse.

If you’re having a hard time not attaching blame, write 10 things you appreciate about your spouse for 30 days. Through taking time each day to focus on what you appreciate about them (those little things they do you might take for granted), you’ll not only reclaim power over your emotions, but you’ll improve your relationship with your spouse as well.

5. Listen more. In addition to improving your communication skills with your spouse, also practice listening more. Stephen Covey put it perfectly when he said, “most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Each spouse should take some time to listen with the intent to understand where the other person is coming from and don’t respond, just listen. One way you can practice better listening is to repeat (rephrasing the content) what your spouse said to you. This practice lets the other person know you were listening and ensures you correctly understood what they were saying.

6. Learn a hobby to pursue as a couple. This is a fun way to get out of the rut of doing the same old thing and allows you to do something together you’ve always dreamed or talked about. This is the time to run that 5K marathon you’ve always wanted to, take that cooking class, or finally plan that trip.

Relationships are ever changing. People grow together, or they don’t, and when you’re relationship is stagnate, marriages can begin to suffer. If you’re not talking, not spending time together, resentment and blame can build, which can damage your relationship and harm your marriage.

Help keep your relationship fresh and happy through setting goals together to not only reconnect, but to improve and strengthen your marriage as well. Relationships aren’t always easy, but through the small, simple act of spending quality time with your spouse, you can make all the difference.

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