12 New Year's Resolutions for a Better Relationship in 2012

Making New Year's resolutions as a couple is a sure way to help your relationship rock in 2012.

New Year's resolutions tend to get a bad rap for being, well, fruitless. But making resolutions with a partner can help you stick to your promises and can also strengthen your relationship. This list of resolutions-for-two will help you ring the New Year in right, and keep your relationship rockin' all year long.

1) Do "Good Things" together (and not just around the holidays). Everyone feels generous around the holidays, and in December, soup kitchens get so many volunteers that they have to turn helpers away. These organizations need volunteers desperately at other times of the year, so you and your sweetie will make a huge impact if you skip the Christmas day goodness and volunteer year-round instead. If you're a Christmas lover, do your good deeds on the 25th of each month. It's the gift that keeps on giving!

2) Eat mindfully. When you're coupled, it's easy to cozy up on the couch and shovel down Chinese food while watching movies. Not only does this habit pack on the pounds, but it skips the fun and intimacy that can come with preparing and sharing food, too. Choose healthy recipes, and make your date nights special by cooking and eating together. Better than an overpriced restaurant any day!

3) Sweat together. If you're part of a tubby tandem and serious about ditching extra pounds, enlist your partner as a workout buddy. If you're not overweight, exercising with your partner is still a great way to improve your overall health. And everyone knows that the rosy cheeks and heavy breathing exercise brings reminds us of other things that involve rosy cheeks and heavy breathing. Speaking of which...

4) Make sexytime a priority. When we're busy, sex can get lost in the shuffle, but it's too good for your relationship, your health, and your mood to skip. Make time to reconnect with your partner in the sack by scheduling a weekend "staycation." If the sex has become lackluster, put some energy into figuring out how to make it exciting again. It might be a new position, a new toy, or just a straight-up change of venue (kitchen, anyone?).

5) Stop squabbling. If you have a serious beef with your partner, it's important to bring it up, but try to avoid petty arguments and insults. One nitpicky fight isn't a big deal, but over time, small backbiting comments can erode the foundation of your relationship. Pick your battles. When you sense a fight on the horizon, try to calm yourself momentarily and ask "Is this worth disturbing the peace for?"

6) Strive for emotional honesty. Even the bluntest among us has avoided explaining feelings to a lover at one time or another. It can be hard to share with your partner (especially if you're experiencing a thorny, irrational emotion like jealousy) but it's important that you keep your mate in the loop so that he can act appropriately. Saying "I feel" instead of "you made me feel" will help you and your partner stay focused on resolving the negative emotions without it turning into a blamefest.

7) Nuke multitasking. When you're spending time with your sweet, banish buzzes, bleeps and chirps from your computer and phone. Don't scroll through your texts while your partner is talking to you, or IM a friend while you're supposed to be planning dinner. You may think you can do two things at once, but when you do, you're sending your partner the message that they're not worth your full attention. If you both have things you must do on your phone or computer, set a block of time aside to accomplish the tasks, and then move on with your evening (and don't even think of counting your tech time together as a 'date'!).

8) Treat your partner as well as you treat your friends. It's easy to take your romantic partner for granted, and sometimes we don't treat our lovers as well as we should. Like family, we assume that they're in it for the long haul and when we're stressed, our romantic relationships that take extra abuse. Ask yourself if you say or do things to your partner that you wouldn't do to your best friend, and if you discover that you do, adjust your behavior accordingly. And, remember, it takes practice to change a habit; don't give up if you don't change overnight.

9) Listen. Don't nod automatically as he talks. Don't wait for your turn to speak. Don't do the dishes while he tells you about his day. Sit down, look him in the eye, pay attention to what he says, and ask follow-up questions. This is one of the best things you can do for your relationship. Active listening is a skill that has to be honed with time and effort, but it's incredibly important. Work at it.

10) Criticize less than you praise. When you spend a lot of time with someone, it becomes easy to overlook the things that are great about them. Instead of dwelling on his bad habits, remind yourself of the reasons you fell for him in the first place. Then remind him! Couples who have been together for a long time tend to forget to compliment one another. Try to dish out three compliments for every criticism, and don't be shocked if he mirrors your actions. Shared appreciation breeds kindness and consideration, and what couple couldn't use more of that?

11) Break a bad habit together. If you and your man share a habit that's less-than-great for you, help one another break it instead of encouraging the behavior within your relationship. Instead of nudging one another outside for smoke breaks, make a pact to limit yourselves to a certain number of cigarettes a day. If you drink too much together, make a two-drink rule and try to stick to it.

12) Play! One of the worst things about being an adult is the total lack of juice boxes, naptime and recess. (What's up with that?) Thankfully, the dullness of the workday world doesn't have to extend to your personal life. Infuse your partnership with a sense of play. Have pillow fights, talk in funny voices, and draw mustaches on the models in your ladymags. Do something creative together... take a guitar class, throw pottery, or learn to roll sushi. Whatever. Stepping outside of your routine can bring you and your partner closer, and it'll ensure that things never get boring between you.

Here's to a Happy New Year... and to your relationship growing stronger than ever in 2012!

Written by Meghan Beresford for YourTango.com.

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