You want to get fit, lose ten kilos, see Machu Picchu and remember everyone’s birthday. You want to set up a timetable for your kids’ screen time, start following a proper skincare regime and finally dye your hair pitch black. You want to read the Bible from start to finish, try a homeopathic remedy and go to the theatre at least once a month … the list is endless and before it is 2 January, you are already tired!

A New Year’s resolution is a promise that you make to yourself to break a bad habit, start a good one or tick some items off your bucket list. The tradition of New Year’s resolutions dates back to 153BC. The month of January was named after Janus, a mythical Greek god. He had two faces – one looking forward and one looking back. That allowed him to see the past, the present and the future. On 31 December, the Romans imagined Janus looking back on the past year and ahead to the new year. It became a symbolic time to make resolutions for the new year and forgive enemies for what happened in the past.

In 2012, Google created a Resolution Map where people could list New Year’s resolutions and also see how others added their resolutions in real time. Unfortunately, only about 9.2% of people keep to their resolutions. But that doesn’t mean that you have to stop making them. Psychologically, every new calendar year marks a new beginning. We make resolutions on the first day of the new year and that gives us a feeling of optimism – as if we are turning over a new leaf. It is a promise to make the year ahead better for ourselves and our loved ones. The fact that so many people make resolutions – year after year – even if they don’t see them through, gives them hope and a certain level of faith in their ability to bring about change.

As it happens, you enthusiastically start off on 1 January with the idea that this year things will be different. But by February you have already foregone some of your resolutions. So, why then do we even go through the trouble of coming up with New Year’s resolutions? Because we actually do want to realise them. And that is a good thought. On his website, Glenn Miller, a medical doctor, gives three reasons for why we do this every year:

  1. It poses a personal challenge. “It is human nature to become contented with our lot in life, maintaining the status quo. But by making well-conceived resolutions, you are able to explore your potential and continue to grow as a n individual, and a productive member of society.”
  2. It forces us to really take stock and determine where we are and how we can improve. It is a natural time for us to reflect and evaluate our lives.
  3. It exemplifies our desire to move in the direction of positive change. Even if we fail to make all the changes we hope to make, a resolution helps us to focus and take a few steps forward. It is better than nothing! In fact, there are research that shows that making a New Year’s resolution can bring you closer to your goals. One such study found that a total of 46% of individuals who made resolutions were successful, compared to only 4% who wanted to reach a goal, but didn’t make a New Year’s resolution. So, if you make a resolution, you are ten times more likely to make those changes than those who want to change, but never actually resolve to do so.

So, what is on your agenda? We want to motivate you to approach your resolutions a little differently this year. How do marriage resolutions sound? You can absolutely make your own list, but here are 12 marriage resolutions (one for each month of the year) that you can make in  January to make your marriage even better in 2020. Write down your resolutions, read it out loud to yourself (or your partner) and share it on social media. Do whatever you can to keep yourself accountable and give yourself the best chance of sticking to it:

  1. “I will leave old grudges behind.” It is very easy to carry a grudge against your partner, but the load can get heavy. And every year you carry that load on your shoulders, it becomes more and more difficult. This year, strive towards forgiving your partner for what he/she did wrong years ago. And decide to, in 2020, forgive your partner as soon as he/she asks for forgiveness. That will lead to a healthier you and a happier marriage.
  2. “I will make more time for my partner.” Life is hectic – it is by no means a revolutionary statement, everyone knows it! And because your partner is the one who is always there, you tend to put him or her on the back burner. If everything and everyone that require your time would stand in a long queue, your partner would be at the back of the line. This year, aim to keep your partner in the front. Carve minutes into your day for each other.
  3. “I am going to make my marriage God-centred.” This is probably the most important resolution that you can make, because if you can stick to this one, the rest will fall into place. Make sure that you clear everything you do this year with God. Seek His will in every action that you take. Pray together, study the Bible together, and talk about His will in your lives.
  4. “My partner and I will foster shared interests.” If you and your spouse don’t really have much in common, 2020 is a good year to find something. It is important for each of you to retain your individuality, but a shared interest can help you find something that you both will enjoy and practice together. It is a great way to have fun with your partner and learn more about him/her.
  5. “I will prioritise conflict management.” Many marriages suffer when conflict is managed incorrectly. It is not worth letting fights get ugly! And there are thousands of resources that can help you manage conflict effectively, but if your time and budget allow it, go and see an expert to help you with this.
  6. “This year, I will tell my partner 365 times ‘I love you’.” It is easy to assume that your partner knows it. And perhaps he/she does, yes. But make sure that apart from showing it through your actions, that you partner hears it every single day!
  7. “I will see the humour when others don’t.” Sometimes it is not funny when you are the one drawing the short end of the stick, but you often have the choice to replace anger, disappointment and frustration with a good laugh. Evaluate this option the next time you are in the supermarket and the teller puts out the “Please use next teller” sign just as you get to the front of the line. Because anger, disappointment and frustration are not going to change anything.
  8. “I will initiate something we have never done before.” Yes, the longer you are married, the shorter the list becomes, but we are certain that you would find something. Doing something new or learning a new skill creates memories. It will also take you out of your comfort zone – a winning recipe for intimacy.
  9. “I will pause to appreciate my partner.” It is easy to take your partner (and everything he/she does) for granted. The laundry is ironed, the car is filled up, the kids are taken care of … those everyday tasks that are part of your routine are not even noticed anymore. In 2020, make a conscious effort to pause at times and tell your partner: “Thank you for what you just did for me. I appreciate you so much.”
  10. “I am going to be more vulnerable in front of my partner.” It is not in everyone’s nature to wear their heart on their sleeves, but in cases where one person is very open and the other one very reserved, it can lead to serious conflict. If this happens in your marriage, decide to share more of your emotions with your partner. Vulnerability creates intimacy.
  11. “I am going to waste less time on worthless things that steal my time.” There are many things can steal your time these days – so much so that there is very little time left for our partners. Sometimes you think that you don’t have enough time in a day, but when you add up all the hours spent in front of the television, it is scary! Consider restricting your television time – especially when you are not watching together. The same goes for social media. If you often look at the screen more than at your partner, seriously consider this resolution …
  12. “This year, I will break a sweat with my partner”. In and outside the bedroom. There is no better workout buddy than your spouse. Whether you want to shed a few extra pounds, or just follow a healthier lifestyle, to exercise with your partner is a great resolution. Also remember to sweat more indoors in 2020, if you know what we mean … Decide to do something every month to spice up your sex life, for example a new position, spending a whole weekend in bed or an interesting venue.

Write down your resolutions. You can decide whether you want to share it with your partner or rather keep it to yourself. You can also make joint resolutions which are easier to follow since you can motivate each other. Either way, make some resolutions and try to stick to them. It can only strengthen your marriage in 2020! Happy New Year!

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Article written by Annelize Steyn