It may be cuffing season, but the stress of the holidays (because, let’s face it, it’s not all sugar cookie baking and tree decorating) and year ahead can put added stress on your relationship. Here, experts weigh in with ways to strengthen your bond before 2019.
Recreate your favorite date of 2018
The upcoming year may be all about change, but it’s also a good time to remind your partner that your feelings are still the same. Recreating a favorite date is a great way to do that. “You can keep things interesting by choosing a different show, restaurant, or museum, but stick with the same premise and sequence of events, so that it takes your lover back to a day you both think fondly of,” says Maria Sullivan, dating expert and Vice President of Dating.com. “Not only will you get major brownie points for the romance, but you’ll automatically ignite the flames you felt during that original date.”
Talk about your favorite holiday traditions
“Story-telling opens your heart as you remember moments of fun, happiness, love, disappointment, embarrassments, and difficulties,” explains Laurel House, celebrity dating coach and host of the Man Whisperer podcast. “When your heart is open, it’s open to connecting even more deeply with your partner.” So, whether you’re reminiscing about your second grade Christmas pageant or complaining about the embarrassing holiday sweaters your mom makes you wear, give details, show photos and videos, do whatever you can to help your S.O. feel like they’re a part of it.
Create new traditions together
It’s a quick and easy way to feel like you’re a team, and it doesn’t have to be anything super elaborate. Buy a special ornament, pop a bottle of champagne and toast each other, wear matching PJs — do something that you can and want to repeat each year, advises House. The caveat: Don’t just do it, create meaning around it by calling out why this new tradition is important. “If you call out the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ and assign meaning to what you’re doing, it will be more memorable,” she adds.
Give a thoughtful gift
Sure, the materialistic stuff is fun, but coming up with an experiential gift will do your relationship good. “Try brainstorming experiential gifts that show your partner you’re interested in their passions. Book a weekend getaway to a place they’ve always wanted to visit. Buy concert tickets for their favorite artist. Sign up for couples’ classes related to their interests,” advises Sullivan. Bonus: Plan them for early in the new year, so that you both have something fun to look forward to and help you reconnect after all the holiday madness subsides.
Set ‘couple goals’
Think of these as relationship resolutions. “This is a great time to reflect on your relationship with a promise to do better,” says psychotherapist and relationship expert Margena Carter of Carter Care Therapeutic Services in Los Angeles. Have a heart to heart and talk about what you want to achieve, and how that will help your relationship grow. Set goals so you can track your progress, and then celebrate milestones with special dates or plans, she adds.
Another option: A couples ‘word of the year.’ “This is the word that you want to embody the feeling of your relationship this next year,” says House. A few suggestions: Connection, deepening, love, adventure, growth, calm, sexy. Whatever that word is, it will help dictate your decisions and date nights throughout the year, giving you both purpose as partners, she adds.