Consider the Fitness of your Relationship in the New Year

Most resolutions are around fitness, weight loss, and career goals. But what about improving your relationship for a healthier life?

Even if you have been working hard on your relationship, and you are generally happy, there is still room to feel more satisfied by making small adjustments.

Being loving is a habit that can be cultivated. Both partners have to be committed to being kind, giving, and affectionate. You can start by setting an example — after all — affection and kindness has a positive effect on your own mental health, and perhaps your partner will feel the effects of your positive spirit long before they notice your actions.

1. Focus on the good things.

When you know your values and are on the same page about most of the big things in life (like finances, kids, personal values, faith), then you might consider being more compromising on the small things. It becomes easier to give in once the big stuff is dealt with…but even if it is not, you can both practice compromise for a more enjoyable day to day life. Really want Italian tonight but your partner wants sushi even though they ordered sushi all week? Give in just as you would expect your partner to do for you.

When you feel yourself getting irritated about something small — like an innocuous habit that bothers you — try to replace that thought with something you adore about your partner. Recalling something good helps to form healthy thinking habits. Over time your brain will get re-trained to help you summon more positive thoughts more easily.

2. Verbally share your appreciation of little things.

It feels amazing when someone notices a kindness. The same goes for your partner. Let them know you’re still thinking of that gift they bought you last year, or for picking up your parents from the station. We are constantly doing little things for one another, and with a ‘thank you’, we might feel more worthy, more like a best friend, and reciprocate. It always feels good to be appreciated!

3. Find little ways to be affectionate.

Remember all that hand-holding that happened when you were first dating? Well, why put an end to something so great? When you’re sitting near your sweetheart, reach out and touch them — during a conversation, while you’re sitting quietly together, or even when you’re both working, sit next to one another if possible.

Get in the habit of being gentle, and over time you will get better at softening your approach, and being empathic towards your partner. This softening within yourself will serve you well and might even produce dialog where once arguments might have sprouted.

Sanaa Hyder is a psychotherapist practicing in NYC. To learn more about her, visit