Relationship Help: Growing Your Relationship Beyond the New Year

Relationship Help: Growing Your Relationship Beyond the New Year

Beginnings and endings…and your relationship

Life is a never-ending series of beginnings and endings—with each ending signaling a new beginning. And it is these beginnings that give us hope that new possibilities are available, that we can shed what hasn’t worked and start anew. Each beginning is imbued with possibility, a gift waiting to be claimed by a new owner.

It is our need for a fresh start that makes the New Year so meaningful to so many.

Marriage Advice and your New Year’s resolution

Relationships and the new year have certain parallels: Both start with a sense of excitement and adventure—an exploration into something new and life-affirming. Motivations run high, old perspectives start to shift and new ones expand, our best selves (selves no longer hampered by our own limiting self-definitions and life experiences) start to emerge.

As a sense of possibility grows, excuses start to vanish, replaced by a receptiveness to the life that surrounds you—what the Buddhists refer to as a beginner’s mindset.

But anyone who has ever been married/in a long-term relationship or who has made a New Year’s resolution knows firsthand how challenging it can be to continuously ride the wave of a new beginning. Some waves quickly crash, others slowly dissipate. In either case, life starts to settle into comfortable rhythms, forcing us to double and triple our efforts in order to keep moving toward our vision of something better, our desired goals.

Relationship Help: What does this mean for your marriage/relationship?

Grand, one-time gestures of establishing life- and relationship-changing goals tend to peter out. To counter this, it can be helpful to set smaller goals or a series of sub-goals.

What goals will you be setting this New Year for your marriage/relationship? What goals will move you toward becoming a more caring, responsive spouse/partner?

Start to see new beginnings all around you

Before jumping into the New Year goal-setting frenzy, it will be important to recognize the following:

Couples often abandon their goals when the benefits aren’t immediately apparent, when the effort to reach the goal feels too daunting or when the energy of the new beginning has fizzled. To overcome these pitfalls, it can be helpful to establish your own rituals of establishing new beginnings.

New beginnings are all around you:

Each day, week and month can be a new beginning—a time to set positive change into motion;

~On a smaller scale, each and every interaction with your partner can be seen as a beginning (a new opportunity to start fresh, act differently and to be open to change). This means that at least several times each day, you’ll be faced with the gift of a new beginning.

Approaching each interaction with your spouse/partner as a new beginning (a New Year, in essence) takes ongoing mental work. Work on creating a mindset that is fully open to the present moment and not chained to the past—the past of a painful interaction that happened only moments ago or a longer-term past that that hasn’t worked for you.

So after you get past the celebrations that ring in the New Year, the challenge will be to make your goals an integral part of your relationship. And remember that you and your partner will share and create thousands of new beginnings throughout the entire new year.

Here’s to new beginnings!

Dr. Rich Nicastro

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