The start of a new year is an undeniably exciting and romantic time. Not only are you looking back on the past 12 months and all of the wonderful things that happened, but you're also looking forward to the year ahead and the surprises to come. This is especially true for couples, who watch their relationship develop and grow over time. Whether you're in a brand-new relationship or a long-term one (that may or may not involve an engagement or wedding in the next 365 days), the beginning of a new year is a great chance to set some goals and resolutions as a pair. Here are some expert-approved resolutions that will help you both start 2018 in the right way.
Resolve to schedule a monthly check-in.
It may not be the sexiest resolution the world, but experts agree that setting aside time to stop what you're doing and connect with your partner is an important ingredient in a long-lasting relationship. "Consider what your partner might be withholding or afraid to say out of fear of upsetting you—or what you want that you might not be getting," says Claudia Six, Ph.D., clinical sexologist and relationship coach. Giving yourselves a time and space to talk these things through on a consistent basis is important.
Resolve to have a date night each week (even if it's at home).
"Research shows that couples who have a weekly date night are much less likely to divorce," says Paulette Sherman, Psy.D., psychologist and author of The Book of Sacred Baths. "Having a dedicated time to leave responsibilities behind and to be romantic and have fun together is like oxygen to your relationship." She suggests committing to a date night each week, even if that means you have to hire a babysitter for a few hours, so that the two of you can grab dinner or see a movie. You can also keep it low-key by staying at home—cook dinner, slow dance, play games, and just enjoy each other's company.
Resolve to plan "date trips."
Date nights are important, but planning a weekend getaway scores you both some major intimacy points. Whether you run away in the RV, camp on a beach, or splurge for the romantic bed & breakfast, Dr. Six says just go away. Even a staycation in your city or hometown counts!
Resolve to up your romance game.
It's normal to settle into a routine after you've been in a relationship for a while. You know each other so well and are no longer in the courting part of your courtship. But experts agree that physical affection is still important to express. "There are easy ways to increase this besides sex. Little positive habits such as hugging and kissing at partings and greetings, snuggling on the couch during a movie, and holding hands when walking places are all key," says Dr. Sherman.
Resolve to thank and praise your partner.
In the same vein of showing affection, sharing affection verbally with positive affirmations is important. Whether it's a simple compliment—like "I love that sweater on you!" or "You have such a knack for communicating with others"—or showing thanks over something your partner may have done for you, a little word of encouragement and acknowledgement can go a long way.
Resolve to learn and practice how to fight fair.
Julienne Derichs, LCPC, a licensed clinical professional counselor based in Chicago, suggests focusing on these three areas of conflict resolution: preventing conflict from happening, managing an argument while it is happening so that it doesn't shut down or escalate, and repairing from a fight once it has happened so that you feel connected again as a couple. "Most couples need a great deal of help and practice in this area," she adds. "Learning how to argue better is a lifelong process but a valuable goal to set to get started in the New Year."
Resolve to create a long-shared goal for the year.
Life gets busy and most couples get pulled in many different directions, but when you create a shared goal for something you both want to accomplish you'll be more connected, explains Derichs. Here are some of her favorite shared goals: create a couples "bucket list" of all the things you'd like to do this year, commit to having one meal together every day, volunteer together, or have a glass of Champagne every Friday night to celebrate making it through the week. Simple, but important.