Now that the holidays are winding down, there’s always a bit of nostalgia as the time has come to pack the ornaments and decorations away, tucking them neatly in boxes until next year. But just as feelings of love, joy, and hope can be found in the trappings of the holidays, we can also find the refreshing feeling of lightness and excitement as we anticipate the blank slate of the new year.
We often spend the holidays hustling about, connecting with friends and loved ones who we might not get to see throughout the year, but what about our loved ones closest to home? Sometimes the relationships that are the most meaningful to us, like relationships with our significant others, get put on the back burner during the holidays. Now that the new year is here, we have some ideas to help you reconnect with your loved one and set your relationship on the right track for 2019.
Take a little time. It doesn’t take a lot of time to make meaningful connections. Social worker Ligia Soileau suggests finding ways to meaningfully engage with your partner. “The ways to meaningfully engage with your partner may look different for everyone, but it can include simple kindnesses like sending a sweet midday text during the week or sitting together to talk about your day after the kids go to bed, instead of getting tangled in housework and projects,” says Soileau. The important thing is that you look for ways to connect and take a little time every day.
Make a joint resolution. Many New Year’s resolutions involve getting healthier. Studies show you are more likely to accomplish your resolution if you have an accountability partner to help you. Why not make a joint resolution with your significant other to exercise regularly or train for a local race? You’re sure to strengthen your connections with your partner while training, and your body will be getting stronger, too! A few upcoming races in Baton Rouge include the Louisiana Marathon (thelouisianamarathon.com) and the Mardi Gras Mambo (runmambo.com).
Start an appreciation journal. Social worker Kelley Massengale suggests keeping a notebook and writing one thing each day to your partner, telling him something that you appreciate about him. It can be something that he has done, or just something about who he is. Massengale says, “It’s more meaningful when you write it down, and use the same notebook, so that you have a record as a couple. There may be days where it is nice to sit together and reflect.”
Create a new routine. We are creatures of habit, and it is so easy to fall into the same old routine. Decide what is important to you in 2019, and take some time to fit a new routine into your life. Are you trying to eat more healthy? Get into the habit of visiting the Farmer’s Market with your significant other once a week. Have breakfast together at the Red Stick Farmers Market (breada.org), then bring home some farm-fresh vegetables to cook together. You’ll freshen up your kitchen as well as your weekend routine, while spending quality time with your partner.
Put down the screens. Soileau suggests putting the phones down in order to reconnect. “I say this for two reasons. First, although technology can be great, it can also keep us from being truly social and living in the moment. It’s okay not to capture and post every single delight your family experiences, so you can actually be in the experiences,” says Soileau. Additionally, when you’re holding your phone, you’re making yourself less available to physical touch and have closeness. Remember when you first started dating and even holding hands felt electric? Soileau says your phone is not capable of feeling rejection, but your partner is. Be intentional with your time together.
Take time for date night. Be it once a week, or once a month, make a plan to get out of the house and do something new together. Take a cooking class, or go to a wine dinner at your local grocery store. You can liven up date night with local cooking lessons at Ruffino’s (ruffinosbatonrouge.com) and wine dinners at Alexander’s Highland Market (alexandersmkt.com).
Make a list. Massengale suggests making a list of five caring behaviors that your partner can do for you. “Your list can include small things that translate as love to you,” Massengale says, “It could be as simple as making a cup of coffee or slipping a note in their bag before work.” Be specific and exchange lists. This gives each partner some ideas about things they can do throughout the week to show that they care.
Show your children how it’s done. Just like during the holidays, little eyes and ears are always watching and listening. Soileau says, “One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is showing them that your spouse or partner matters, and that you value one another and enjoy spending time together.” By modeling a healthy relationship for your children, you are setting a good example for them, while also reminding yourself what’s most important as you all start the new year! ■