As you approach this next year with the residue of 2020 on your hands, take some time to look at your priorities and determine where your focus has laid. The events of this past year have affected most of us in a large way, and many are still feeling continued effects of the year’s trials and tribulations. I find it easy these days to slip into a feeling of disempowerment when I read the latest news and realize how little control I have over so many important issues in the world. Looking ahead to 2021, I think it is important to try to take back that empowerment, to regain control over our lives in whatever ways we can.
Committing to Your Relationships
I find myself wondering what could happen if I shift my focus and really make a commitment to my personal relationships this year. How much more empowered could I feel as a result? And what does that commitment look like?
For a lot of folks, the central challenge in a relationship surrounds the idea of commitment – of true commitment. It is easy to place our partners and our relationships on the back burner, or to slip into a state of quasi-commitment in favor of work and professional relationships. What could happen if, for even just the first three months of 2021, you resolved to give your whole self to your relationship? To see what happens when the part of you that doesn’t really want to be a full leader in the relationship becomes a person who is actively committed, humble, and willing to learn and grow?
I see my relationship as an island. My wife and I are the only two people on it, and we’ve burnt all the bridges to the island. It’s just the two of us. There’s no one else around, so we have no choice but to be there for each other 100% of the time. When you commit to someone like that, in such a way that there are no distractions or tasks that could be considered more important than that commitment, you have to dig deep. You must avail yourself, give all the support you can, and practice all of the personal practices that you need to do in order to make it work. And your partner does the same for you.
The Best Resolutions to Deepen Your Relationships
One of the best resolutions you can create for 2021 is to develop personal practices that ensure better commitment to your relationships. One example of a personal practice is as simple as having regular date nights. For those like me with children, it’s not the easiest thing to find time for dates, and there is always a lot of planning involved. However, it is worth the effort. One of the reasons why my relationship has been really solid and successful for the last several years is because of our date nights. We see date nights as our opportunity to have three or four hours together each week completely devoted to ourselves and each other, without any stress or distractions. We go out for a hike, dinner, or a picnic, and simply take the time to listen and catch up with each other in a beautiful surrounding.
Weekly Planning Meeting
Another personal practice I find helpful to ensure I honor commitment is having a weekly planning meeting with my wife. It makes things nice and distinct; we have a date night where we can be more intimate, and then we have a separate planning meeting where we can compartmentalise our tasks and bring forth any issues we need to work through and sort out. For example, we can talk about any anxieties, conflicts, or misunderstandings that have come up over the course of the week, but we can also just plan out the things we want to do during the week.
The purpose of this practice is to look at your relationship as the complex organization that it actually is. We tend to think relationships can operate without formality or real diligent, deliberate planning, but that is not the case. Not having conversations about the important things, the little stressors and annoyances that come up throughout the day, tends to only lead to undue stress. By designating time each week to talk about these things, you can avoid building up frustration and ensure that you and your partner are on the same page. Don’t worry if you don’t get through everything in one weekly meeting; sometimes things will spill over into the next week’s discussion, or they will just get left behind, and that’s okay. It’s about bringing your whole self to the table and being there for your partner while tackling the most important things that need to be tackled each week.
Leading Your Relationship
Overall, keep your resolutions simple. These two actionable items are enough to help get you on your way in terms of renewing and focusing on commitment this year. Even just for the first three or four months, renew your sense of leadership and wholeness in your relationship. Watch your sense of empowerment grow as a direct result of your focus. Take on a personal resolution to truly commit and bring your all to everything this new year. See yourself as a leader in a relationship so that you can affect it and help it grow.
By bringing your full self to a relationship and being generous to it, you can really get to know your partner. Understand what they like in terms of communication, and determine what makes them feel met, honored, and understood. Then, outline what you can actually do. Take ownership and pride in your abilities to nurture your relationship. Take responsibility for ensuring that these newly-prioritized commitments don’t get bumped for other things, like work. Your relationship is its own entity and it must be fed; it wants to be fed. It thrives on both partners making – and sticking to – their commitments. It needs proactivity. It needs initiative.
So, my challenge to you is this: take on that initiative. Plan a few date nights, suggest a few planning meetings, or make up your own practices that will help establish a new level of commitment to yourself, your partner, and your relationship. Then, watch your relationship strengthen as both you and your partner experience new levels of empowerment this year.