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Don’t you wish you could just turn back time? Have a fresh start? Or maybe you just want this year to be the best year for your marriage. Making big changes can often seem daunting. After all, how do you take the time to really make changes when kids, work, bills, and other demands are requiring your focus?
Of course, you may ask yourself ‘why, if my relationship is strong and enduring, would I need a Fresh Start?’ Because just like cars need a tune-up, and your house needs a deep clean every now and then, relationships need maintenance, attention, and sometimes an overhaul to keep it lasting. And whether you are barely speaking to each other or blissfully in love an important mindset to keep within your marriage is to always be looking for ways to improve it.
So what do you do? How do you give yourself that start? Where do you even begin? Keep reading for a step by step guide to make 2018 the most romantic and connecting year you have ever had.
Step 1: Where are you at?
Too many relationship “experts” will give very specific advice that “fits” every situation. That just doesn’t work. Your relationship is unique. Every relationship has its strengths and weaknesses, its history and its hurts. I suggest taking time to thoughtfully answer the following questions (single word or single sentence answers will not suffice):
– How is my relationship doing currently?
– How well do we meet each other’s needs for connection? Significance? Fun? Certainty and Security? Growth?
– What is my contribution (positive and negative) to our current relationship situation?
Step 2: Where would you like to be?
How will you have your best year in marriage if you don’t know what it is you want? How do you get up in the morning and work on “being better”? New Year’s resolutions, personal goals and personal progress in general are constantly abandoned by the vast majority of people. Why? Because they lack a clearly defined ‘next step’. You’re here because you want your marriage to thrive, which means you are already more conscientious of your relationship than most. So I KNOW you are going to take the time to thoughtfully consider your goals. Here are some suggestions and questions to get you started:
– If everything were exactly how I wanted it to be, what would my marriage look like? What would we do together? How would we communicate?
– Be specific! What do you mean when you say you want to feel more connection? What does that look like? Does that mean going out on more dates? How often does that mean?
– Have you communicated your desires and expectations to your spouse? What would they like changed? What do they want from you? What do you want from them?
Step 3: Action
None of this would make any sense unless you actually went out and did something different. My suggestion is to break up your goals into very manageable chunks.
– What would I need to do differently to help get me to my ideal marriage?
– What has to happen along the way to get you where you want to be?
– What classes, professional help or books would I need to gain the skills needed to make those changes?
– How could I break my goals up into manageable chunks? What could I accomplish in three months? 1 month? 1 week? Today?
Create broad goals to reach for, but make sure you have things that you can do right now to help take you one step closer. For example, perhaps you want to feel closer to your husband, specifically that means that you want to spend more time together and for the two of you to actually look forward to the moments that you have alone. To get there that means you have to actually spend more time together, which possibly means discussing mutually enjoyable activities and actually scheduling a date. On previous dates you haven’t had much to talk about, so perhaps you need to buy a book on marriage or how to converse well with your spouse. This means that you have things you can do right now (buy a book, talk with your spouse, schedule a date) and things to reach for (enjoying each other’s company on a date). This makes it very easy to continue making improvements.
Step 4: Maintenance
This is where most people get lost with starting fresh. It is REALLY easy to make resolutions, to START changes. The difficult part comes in continuing them. This is because new goals are exciting, it gives hope for something different. What people don’t realize is that change sometimes takes time, it requires patience. And so when profound changes don’t happen immediately or when they meet an obstacle it is not uncommon for people to abandon those hopes. But not you. I’m giving you this warning so you know what to expect. That to have the best year of your marriage it will require time, effort and patience. Here are some questions to keep you going:
– What is getting in the way of reaching your goals?
– What needs to change to get around those obstacles?
– If you are feeling discouraged, why are you feeling discouraged? Are you entertaining hopeless thoughts or beliefs?
– How might you adjust those beliefs to keep on going?
-How might your spouse support the two of you in maintaining your goals?
Follow these steps with thoughtfulness and I can guarantee you will be on the right track to having the best year of your marriage. It is completely understandable though, if you need some extra guidance and support.
After all, as I mentioned earlier, every relationship is unique, and perhaps you have special circumstances that are making change a little more challenging.
Freebie: Use our free New Year’s Marriage Goal Sheet to take your marriage to the next level this year!
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