I was talking with my husband about our New Year's resolutions, and he asked me a very important question: "Why don't any of your resolutions have to do with me?"
This question wasn't born out of selfishness but rather out of confusion. I'd resolved to spend more time with my kids, volunteer with a favorite organization and improve my career, yet I'd forgotten my marriage. My husband is the most important person in my world, but he's often the last thing on my mind. My resolutions reflected skewed priorities.
After almost nine years of marriage, there are many days when I take my husband for granted. He's always there, and our relationship is pretty drama free which is awesome. However, it's easy to go on autopilot and put my marriage on the back burner. I forget that, just because something is working, doesn't mean it can't get better.
In a spirit of contrition, my husband and I sat down and wrote joint resolutions. While we're both lucky because we're happy with our relationship, there are always areas to work on. Our marriage is far from unique, and I want to share our resolutions with you. Not surprisingly, these same issues are the ones people ask about again and again in my professional life. Hopefully, they'll inspire you to make your marriage even stronger in the coming year.
1. Embrace your differences
The way my husband folds towels baffles me. It makes no sense. However, I can either choose to let him fold towels his way, or I can do it all myself. My pride is not worth a lifetime of lonely laundry, my friends.
This year, quit micromanaging your spouse into doing things your way. So what if she picks bizarre routes while driving, and who cares if he can't load a dishwasher efficiently. Little differences in routine are not good enough reasons to disparage your spouse. Be nice. You might even learn something new.
2. Let old arguments go
It's awful living in a house full of problems. Whether from work issues, money problems or parenting dilemmas, a list of grievances will consume your marriage if you let it. While we all have to communicate as couples, rehashing the same fights over and over is not productive, and the constant stream of negativity wears down even the best relationship. This year, resolve to disagree gracefully and let old issues rest.
If you've been married for a while, and your spouse leaves socks everywhere, or you still can't stand your in-laws, or you don't agree on how much screen time your kids should get, neither you nor your spouse are going to change your minds. When we dig in about issues, it becomes harder to talk about them rationally. There is nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree sometimes. As long as no one is dying, live and let live. After all, did you marry someone you love, or did you marry someone you want to change completely? Think about that.
3. Find intimate time
I'm not just talking sex here, although that's certainly part of the equation. How many of us treat our spouses like glorified roommates? Let's be honest. If most interactions revolve around grocery lists and extracurricular schedules, we're doing marriage all wrong.
Think back to when you were dating. I'm sure there was plenty of kissing and snuggling. Being together was exciting - that's why you got married! So, why does married life sometimes feel dull? One of the perks of matrimony is snuggling, cuddling and physical intimacy, not to mention awesome emotional intimacy. We need to start taking advantage of all these great aspects of married life. Don't let life get in the way of feeling connected with your spouse.
Even the best marriages need the occasional shake-up. Don't let your marriage slip off this year's resolution list. Your spouse deserves top spot on your list, both for the New Year and each day. Above all, resolve to make marriage fun this year. Enjoy each other. Spend time together. Remember why you got married in the first place. This time next year, it will surprise you how far you've come.