The Best New Years Resolution: a Better Relationship

Posted by Jeannie Ingram, LPC-MHSP on January 9, 2024 at 11:30 AM
Jeannie Ingram, LPC-MHSP
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how to create a better relationship in the new year

Many of us start the New Year by looking at ourselves with a fine-toothed comb at specific areas we believe need changing. But are we truly focusing on the areas of change required to better the quality of our lives?

May we suggest starting the new year by investing in your relationships, especially with those you hold most dear - your life partner. Here are a few tips on starting the new year with a clean slate to deepen your relationships, reduce negativity and conflict, and create a more loving and supportive relationship.

How To Eliminate Relationship Negativity

how to eliminate negativity in your relationship

The first step in any relationship to connect deeper is to remove negative interactions with your partner. You may not even be aware if it's happening, but take a moment to stop and reflect by looking closer. Negativity could be coming across in some of the following ways:

  • Your behavior in the daily relationship dynamics may unintentionally hurt your partner.
    • Example: Non-verbals such as frowning or eye-rolling if the coffee isn't made in the morning as usual for you both, or displaying annoyance if you have to pause the TV to hear your partner talk.

  • You're quick to respond without seeing and hearing your partner.
    • Example: Your partner has an issue at work, and you quickly advise without tuning in to see that your partner wants to share and be heard without judgment.

  • You're not emotionally available when your partner wants to connect.
    • Example: Your partner wants to share about their day, and you go into autopilot with an auto-response vs. looking at them and seeing their eyes as they share.

These are just a few daily interactions that can happen when a couple exists on relationship autopilot and can hurt each other more than you might realize.

To create change and end this negative relationship dynamic, try some of the following:

Relationship autopilot doesn't allow partners to thrive, nor does it allow you to take responsibility for your side of the street in the relationship.

How To Change Old Relationship Behaviors

How to change old relationship behaviors

In relationships and life, all of your actions have consequences and can take away safety, support, and love in your relationship. While much of what we've learned as a reaction stems from our childhood to avoid "getting in trouble," we're now adults and need to learn a new way of behaving to live and love more fully.

To stop your old behaviors, you must first be aware of them and how they may damage your relationship. For example, using blame as a tool for relationship issues will never solve the problem. This is a childhood learned behavior and not an adult response for problem-solving in healthy relationships.

A healthy adult approach to reactions, such as blame, is to reflect on how you've interacted in the past and work toward your goals of what you want in your relationship.

  • Stop focusing on what you don't want in your relationship.
  • Shift your relationship focus on what you do want - with your words and actions.

By shifting your mind to want and moving toward the positive vs. the negative, you'll help manage your reactions and ultimately lessen conflict in your life and your relationship.

How To Reduce Conflict in Your Relationship

how to get through relationship struggles together

Conflict resolution starts with taking responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors rather than making excuses or blaming others.

Taking responsibility for your actions also requires behavior change, and like any new behavior, you may stumble at first. You may even tell yourself it's impossible. Yet, change is possible and provides a clean slate in the new year. A new way of thinking and acting may feel challenging, but by the 2nd or 3rd time, you'll get better and better with more practice.

People interested in growing and evolving become much healthier and happier humans and can have better relationships. Reflect often, and become more mindful to see where you play a role in the relationship vs. what's being done to you. You can become a true partnership with your love when you reduce your reactive response when feeling triggered.

How To Use The Imago Relationships Dialogue

The Imago Dialogue Tool

The Imago Intentional Dialogue tool is transformative for many couples and helps them connect more deeply, truly see and hear one another, reduce conflict, and move the relationship into a healthier place.

Once you are dialoguing calmly and responsibly with your partner, you'll notice that blame and shame in reaction will lessen. You'll learn to replace negative behaviors with positive ones in your relationship. If you and your partner are having a conflict, try communicating by taking responsibility and ownership of your actions in the relationship dynamic, such as:

  • "I noticed I had a reaction about X. I'd like to discuss it with you when you have time."
  • "My intention is to share my world and connect with you in the process."
  • "I'll start by saying how much I appreciate you."

Starting with yourself first - you open the door to connecting and for each partner to dialogue about their feelings and actions, take responsibility, and see and hear one another with new eyes. Stop blaming, start listening, have the hard conversations, be open, curious, and vulnerable, and put judgment aside in your relationship.

As a relationship therapist, my goal is to help you create and enjoy deeper connections and healthier relationships that thrive into the New Year and beyond!

Change can be challenging at first; however, with intention, practice, mindfulness, and behavioral follow-through, it becomes more positive and can take you to a place you have always desired for yourself and your relationship.

If you're struggling in your relationship, we're here to help. Check out our virtual and in-person Imago Relationships Workshops and Imago Relationships Therapy.

Discover more about Imago with our Imago Professional Membership, Imago Professional Facilitators, Imago Professional Training, and Imago Insights Education.

Connect. Transform. Thrive.

Jeannie Ingram, LPC-MHSP - Imago Relationships North America

This blog post was written by Jeannie Ingram, LPC - MHSP, Certified Advanced Imago Relationship Therapist.

Jeannie Ingram is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Imago Relationship Therapist, speaker, and workshop presenter in private practice in Nashville, TN.

She has a Bachelors Degree in Psychology, a Masters in Counseling from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Capella University. Using this training, along with decades of experience in crisis intervention, she helps couples and individuals heal and live more intentionally. In addition, she is a Clinical Instructor for the International Imago Training Institute and Interim Director of Tapestries Counseling Center in Nashville, TN. She is certified to present Getting the Love You Want, Keeping the Love You Find, and Start Right, Stay Connected Imago couples workshops across the Southeast. She loves cooking, writing, hiking, camping, kayaking, and sailing.

Most of all, she is dedicated to helping couples and individuals find joy, meaning, success, and connection through the practice of mindfulness and purpose in their lives.

Topics: Healthy Relationships, Resolve Conflict, Eliminating Negativity, Healthy Communication, Creating Healthy Relationships, Happy Marriage, Healthy Love, New Year's Resolutions, New Year's Goals, Creating Happy Relationships, Marriage Struggles, Thriving Couples, Negativity, Toxic Relationships, Communication Skills, Communication In Relationships, Relationship Communication, New Year Goals, Better Relationships, How to Communicate Better, How to Create Better Relationships, Couples Who Thrive

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The Imago Relationships Blog features content from our team of professional therapists, workshop presenters and facilitators who are passionate about helping you discover a new way to communicate and love your life.

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