Whether your list of resolutions for the new year is long or short, there's always room to add one more that's dedicated to being a better partner to your significant other. Even if it's keeping a mental note, experts agree that taking time to consider how you can improve your relationship in big and small ways can go a long way in strengthening your bond. Here are some ways you can resolve to be a better spouse in 2018.
Pay more attention to detail.
In the midst of your busy day-to-day lives, it's hard to remember every little thing your partner says and does. But remembering details that are important to him or her go a long way in reassuring your spouse that you care and that you're committed. "As you are downloading your day to one another, actively listen to what your partner is saying," says Kat Van Kirk, Ph.D., licensed marriage, family, and sex therapist. "Then, slip a little note into their wallet or purse the next day that says something nice or supportive and ties back into what they told you yesterday."
Be open to couple's therapy.
Just like you wouldn't turn down physical therapy if you were dealing with a pulled muscle or healing from a broken bone, there's no reason you should be against seeking out therapy for your relationship. "Good spouses don't create conflict in order to avoid improving your relationship," says Dr. Van Kirk. "Being a better spouse means that if there is a request to go to counseling for the benefit of your relationship, you're willing to go."
Taper your expectations.
You want to make sure your emotional and physical needs are being met, but experts agree that nitpicking about unimportant expectations—like your partner forgetting to wear the sweater you bought him to that office party—can lead to unnecessary disappointment and discontent. "Keep your expectations from your spouse realistic so you don't set yourself up for more conflicts and huge letdowns in the relationship," advises Dr. Van Kirk.
Unplug from technology.
As the world gets more intense and challenging, it's even more important to stop what we're doing, simplify things, and revert back to the basics that make all relationships strong. Audrey Hope, celebrity relationship counselor, suggests first vowing to stop your affair with your phone and computer. Your spouse must come first. "Declare to your significant other that you will no longer be addicted to your virtual lover—that means shutting off the TV," she says. "This will take you both back to the old days when communication was key and talking to each other was a great sport."
Stop making politics a main topic of conversation.
Unless both of you work in politics, try to keep the Republicans and Democrats talk off the table, at least for a little. "Agree to find harmony and peace in your values of compassion and caring for each other and the world, and just let it be," says Hope. "If you have a strong political bent, keep it, move into it with passion, but on your own terms without causing harm in your relationship." No more arguments over world issues.
In the heat of the moment, it's hard to see the other person's point of view, but experts urge couples to cool off and think before attempting to talk it through during an argument. "You don't know how your affect, tone, resentments and contempt may destroy the communication," says Fran Walfish, Psy.D., a couple and family psychotherapist. "Stick to the topic and don't bring a laundry list of earlier mistakes or unsolved arguments. And, remember: everyone wants to be heard, acknowledged, validated, and accepted—warts and all."