We did it! We reached the end of another fabulous year, and we’ve all been taking some time to reflect back as a way to look forward. What did we do last year that can be improved upon in the this one? Yes, I’m talking about New Year’s Resolutions–That glorious list of wills and won’ts that dictate our brighter future in the coming year. Here at The NotWedding, we have 3 goals in mind behind all of our actions: inspire brides and grooms, promote small businesses, and encourage strong marriages. We’ve decided to mix our mission with this special time of year and hit you up with our own special list of New Year’s Resolutions for the Married Couple! We’ve talked to some wonderful wedded couples to get the scoop on best practices for 2014 (or any year, really).
In the interest of keeping things simple (you have to remember them ALL YEAR!), once I gathered all my data for this post I quickly boiled down the marriage aspirations of 2014 into three simple points: Think, talk, be.
Our minds are the houses we live in on our own, so of course we get used to having no roommates in there. We spend our early lives thinking well for ourselves and tending our own mental and emotional gardens. Part of the beauty of marriage and family is the necessity it causes to open up the mind to another(s). “Be more intentional with…” is one of the most common resolution sentence-starters. More intentionality means more thinking: thinking how your spouse might feel in that heated moment, thinking about how that big adjustment is affecting your child, and thinking about what small things you can do to better offer yourself up to these relationships. Making a conscious effort to think well for your spouse and children will bring everyone together! This can mean planning a family game night, mandating a “no phone or email” time of day, or simply volunteering a nice foot or back rub when your spouse has had a rough day.
“Our new years’ resolution is to be more intentional with our kids. Stay off our phones and computers when we are around them as much as possible.”
-Ashley Moore, The NotWedding Midwest Regional Manager
A lot of our reality actually starts in our minds. Shakespeare is famously quoted for writing, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. This translates directly into our relationships with loved ones. It’s a good practice to not only think well FOR others, but to also think well OF them. This practice is what we commonly call giving people “the benefit of the doubt”. Assume the best of your loved one in situations where you may be imposing your own selfishness or standards. Let’s say your spouse put all the dishes in the dishwasher after dinner and ran a cycle even though it wasn’t full. You consider that a waste of water and money and it isn’t the way you would do it. In that moment, you can impose your standards and be critical, or you can accept their intentions as love. Which response do you think will garner the most intimacy in the moments immediately following?
“My husband and I have been married almost 4 years and we’ve discovered that if you always think the best of the other person’s actions and words that it solves most all conflict and hurt feelings. Our resolution this year is to continue to always think the best of the other, and not the worst.”
-Alanea Kate Endsley, The NotWedding Facebook submission
All that thinking makes for great conversational fodder as well, and communication is a vital part of any relationship. I’m not just talking about the conflict-resolution kind of talking. As a matter of fact, studies have recently suggested that often NOT talking about what is wrong in the relationship may be the most effective way of fixing it. Don’t believe me? Check out this article/book review called “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It”. While it provides some great insight into the communicative differences between men and women, it doesn’t advocate for NOT talking! Try balancing conversations with your spouse between ideas and passions on each other’s hearts and minds instead of defaulting to conversations about things that need improvement.
“This year we plan to turn off our laptops and the TV at 10 PM, brew a cup of tea, and talk about our day together. Years ago a friend gave us a tray to use for “tea time” at night and use it we did… several nights a week after we got the kids to bed we’d make tea and talk. Simple. Satisfying.”
– Bill and Kitti Murray, The NotWedding fans and supporters
The overwhelming desire of the couples we spoke with was to have more time alone together. Have a weekly or monthly date night! Wake up early one day a week to have coffee or meet up to share a lunch break. It’s important to set aside specific time to put down work obligations, home and family stresses, and personal hobbies to connect with your spouse.
“Our New Year’s resolution is to make more time for date nights, at least one a month. The time we have together, without our son Jack, is so limited and it is so healthy to make time to be together with just the two of us. It is something that is easy to say, but so hard to do!”
– Jamie & Neill Bohlin, The NotWedding Northeast Regional Manager
“Set up a monthly date night for JUST the two of us. No other couples, and no distractions.”
– Ashley and Ivan Moore, The NotWedding Midwest Regional Manager
“Take a honeymoon every year. Even if it’s just an afternoon picnic, intentional time away together is magical.”
– Mattie Tiegreen, The NotWedding Facebook submission