“Our resolution is to look good for our upcoming wedding! We are also looking to buy a house in the near future.” – Sunil, 27, and Khirti, 23
“We will be moving in together after our wedding in May 2015, so our primary focus will be on living together harmoniously. After that, we will think about finances and family planning.” – Geyi, 24, and Wei Kean, 27
“As working adults, most of us look forward to traveling and fulfilling our material wants, just to name a few. But for us as newlyweds, we hope to go beyond working towards self-gratification; instead, we hope to be able to create a positive impact on the people around us in 2015.” – Maybeline, 28, and Roy, 29
“With our baby due in April 2015, my wife and I would like to improve our financial savings. Funds will naturally need to be channelled to the baby during the first few years.” – Ian, 31 and Sharon, 30
It’s the start of a brand new year, and most of you will undoubtedly be making a list of resolutions – be it alone, or as a couple. But if it’s tough enough trying to fulfil your own New Year resolutions, won’t keeping shared resolutions with your significant other prove to be an even greater challenge?
However, setting goals or “couple resolutions” with your partner can actually reap many rewards for your relationship. “It is important for couples to have both short-term and long-term resolutions, as this ensures that they are constantly on the same page and share the same vision of the future,” Maybeline says.
Theodora agrees, saying that “resolutions give couples a sense of growth and enable them to progress in their journey together, towards a common goal. Resolutions also function as indicators of how a relationship is developing.” To sum it up, as Geyi and Wei Kean succinctly put it, “resolutions act as a goalpost for our two-man team.”
So what can you and your partner do to better achieve your resolutions as a couple? Here are five pointers that you can observe:
1. Communicate clearly.
Always make it a point to communicate your feelings clearly to your other half – this reduces conflict and helps you to make better and more informed decisions as a couple. “Both parties don’t necessarily have to agree on everything. However, each person should definitely voice his or her own opinions, and strike a compromise when needed,” Maybeline advises.
Echoes Evelyn Khong, family life educator and principal consultant with Fei Yue Community Services, "Communication is getting to know you and making yourself known to your spouse. Words spoken, tones used and the body language that you show can have adverse effects on your relationship. Developing effective communication skills are essential and vital to a more satisfying and fulfilling marriage"
Listening is also crucial as well – show genuine interest in what your partner has to say. This can encourage your partner to open up and be honest with you.
2. Keep an open mind.
You might not always like what your partner has to say, but it is important to be flexible and receptive. “By keeping an open mind and discussing a variety of options, we usually reach a consensus, except when it comes to the topic of shoes,” jokes Geyi. Try to understand where your partner is coming from – he or she would usually have a legitimate reason for making a suggestion.
Also, your resolutions needn’t necessarily be set in stone. Instead, they might change as the months and days go by. “Your joint resolutions should be flexible and accommodating enough to consider your growth as individuals, and as a couple,” advises Ms Lissy Puno, a psychologist and certified Imago Relationships therapist with SACAC Counselling.
3. Be patient and committed.
Exercise patience and manage expectations when it comes to making resolutions as a couple. “Unrealistic resolutions will not be effective, and might instead contribute to conflict between you and your partner. Instead, start off with something achievable,” Ian says.
This could be something as drawing up a roster for household chores and ensuring that both parties follow through with it. Also, as Sunil says, “it’s all about commitment. No one can make your resolutions happen but you. Don’t be put off by what other people say – it’s really about your own goals as a couple, however simple or crazy.”
4. Track your progress regularly.
It’s all too easy to lose track of time when we are bogged down by the minutiae of daily life. Often, we realise that the year is over before we’ve even done anything to work towards our resolutions. As such, it is important to check in with your other half regularly. “Set aside a date monthly and evaluate your progress as a couple,” Theodora suggests. Ms Puno agrees, saying “setting a timetable of sorts lets both parties know what is expected of them.”
5. Consider seeking assistance.
If you’re struggling to meet your resolutions as a couple, don’t be afraid to consider options such as counselling. For instance, Theodora and Jason have been attending marriage preparation classes and counselling sessions regularly over the past year. “This helps us to identify areas that we might be blind to, and work through issues where we have unmet expectations in,” the couple explains.
Adds Ms Khong, “As an old saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine. Better to set aside some time and effort right now to mend a small tear. Seeking help for that little tear will salvage your marriage in the long run."