Setting Couples New Year’s Resolutions is a great way to create a stronger connection, reinforce your bond, and set expectations for the future. Having shared goals can help you both stick to your promises—the more effort you two put in, the stronger the relationship. If you’re looking for some goals to work toward with your partner, this list of 6 Relationship Resolutions for 2023 is the perfect place to start.
Relationship Resolutions for 2023 from a Marriage Counselor
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghDecember 21, 2022 compassion, conflict resolution, conversations for couples, couples communication, couples counseling, couples therapy, gratitude, making up after fights, marriage, marriage counseling, new years resolutions, relationship, relationship conflict, relationship resolutions, resolutions0 comments
1. Make a conflict management plan: this will allow you both to have your unique emotional constitutions respected, as well as forming a plan for how to manage healthy conflict in your relationship. A plan for conflict implies that disagreements are not inherently a problem but aims at tackling issues in the relationship that can cause small issues to become much bigger. It also brings awareness about how emotions play into your disagreements and what to do so that there is a smaller likelihood that trigger topics spiral out of control.
2. Make a vision board for your relationship and what you want in the next month, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years and 5 years! Once you’re done, put your vision board in a place you’ll see often because when you see something that inspires you on a daily basis, you stay on track. You can even take a picture of it and use it as your phone wallpaper.
3. Create an environment of appreciation between yourself and your partner. Catch your partner doing three things a week that you are grateful for. Share this with each other at the end of each week.
4. It is commonplace to be consumed by work, children, and finances that we literally forget how important it is to carve out quality time with our partners. Schedule date nights every other month. Pick the day (time and place can come later). Having a planned date is a great way to maintain a sense of adventure and fun in your relationship—it ensures time to build emotional intimacy and check in with each other.
5. Make rituals that honor your birthday, anniversary, holidays, and other landmark events through time. Celebrating the passage of time is a key component of how relationship masters keep their relationship well.
6. Choose compassion over being right. So many relationships suffer because our egos become gridlocked in the pattern of trying to be correct instead of being understanding and loving towards our partners and loved ones! Keep this in mind and always remember it is our kindness and care which nurtures those that surround us!
Written by Marriage Counselor and Founder of the Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, Stephanie Wijkstrom.
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Everything You Wanted to Know About Boundaries in Relationships
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 7, 2022 borderline personality disorder, boundaries, communication, conflict resolution, conversations for couples, couples communication, educational, emotional intelligence, how to say no, personal growth, relationship, relationship conflict, relationship resolutions, self care, stress management0 comments
You may have heard that boundaries in relationships are good and worthwhile. Understandably you might have some questions about boundaries such as what are they? How do I set a boundary? How do I communicate a boundary? How do I enforce a boundary? Is there any flexibility to boundaries? I will answer all of these questions for you because as a licensed marriage and family therapist I am professionally and personally invested in people having the healthiest relationships they can for as long as it makes sense.
I would like to start with some warnings at the outset: boundaries are difficult, people often react negatively to them, and relationships can get worse before getting better when you challenge a person even if it is for the best. Here’s the thing: despite how it might feel, setting boundaries in a relationship shows that you care deeply about the relationship because it’s a difficult thing to do. People generally don’t expend the energy to do such challenging relationship work with persons they have no intention of maintaining a relationship with. A boundary communicates that you want to keep the person in your life and gives them clear guidance on how that can happen.
Boundaries vs. Rules
First, it is important to specify what a boundary is and what it isn’t. A boundary is about you and what you will/will not or can/can not do. When you try to make a boundary about someone else and what they will/will not or can/cannot do, that is a rule and is actually a disempowering position. You do not have control over others, but you do have control over yourself. For example, “Hey, Uncle so-and-so, you can’t say racist things at Thanksgiving dinner” is a rule that is hard to enforce because Uncle so-and-so can choose to ignore that rule and say racist things anyway. Now what? Repeat yourself? Get into a verbal altercation over Thanksgiving dinner? Not ideal, right? However, if instead you say, “Hey, Uncle so-and-so, if you continue to say racist things at Thanksgiving dinner I will leave” Uncle so-and-so can choose to violate your request but there are now consequences that you control for that choice.
4 Steps To Set Boundaries in Relationships
- Identify how you want to interact in this relationship and/or how you don’t want to interact in this relationship. This is the boundary you are setting.
- Communicate the boundary to the person the boundary applies to directly. By the way, it’s not enough to simply say it. Effective communication and therefore effective boundary-setting involves confirming that the person received the appropriate message. This is as simple as asking, “What is it you just heard me say?” The person should be able to accurately summarize what your boundary is. If they cannot, either you are not communicating accurately and effectively or they are struggling to hear you. Repeat or re-form what your boundary is until what you’re saying and what they reflect back match.
- Attach a consequence to the violation of this boundary. A boundary with no consequence is toothless. It’s important to emphasize here that this can be read as a threat or ultimatum but it’s not. An ultimatum is a demand followed by retaliation usually of a similar caliber (think “taste of their own medicine”) but a consequence is merely the effect of an action. There are natural consequences to a person’s choices. To refer back to the Uncle so-and-so example, it is a natural consequence for you to remove his access to you if he can’t respect your boundary. This should also be communicated effectively and reflected back to you accurately.
- Build in a warning system. The violation of a boundary isn’t always intentional or malicious. When it is not their own boundary it is easy for a person to forget, especially over time. I think most people and most boundaries deserve at least one warning stated thusly, “Hey, remember when I told you that if you say racist things at Thanksgiving dinner that I will leave? Well, the next time this happens that will be the consequence.” You can absolutely choose not to build in a warning system but I like to work under the assumption that your relationships are valuable enough to you to give them a chance. I reserve two warnings for children and exceptionally difficult boundaries. Three strikes should almost never be considered acceptable. Even with two warnings you run the risk of setting a precedent that a person may violate your boundary only this many times, and they could take advantage of that.
Now for the hardest part: following through. I cannot emphasize this enough: it is extremely important that you do follow through on your boundary and its attached consequences or you run the risk of doing further damage to your relationships by showing you can’t be relied on or your word is meaningless.
You might be saying to yourself, “Okay, this is all well and good but what if I’m dealing with a hostile person who will take this the wrong way?” Well, that’s not something you can control. That is not where your power lies. Your power lies in the fact that you have the ability to set and enforce a boundary. How they react is in their control. However, you can increase your success in communicating around boundaries by leading with the relationship. Something like, “Hey, I have something I need to talk to you about and I want you to know that I value our relationship. That is the reason I’m bringing this up.” You can even bookend your boundary communication with an echo of this statement just to keep the sentiment fresh in their minds and minimize their reactivity.
Finally, I’d like to address flexibility with boundaries. Boundaries should not necessarily be firm and unwavering. People and circumstances change, and so it stands to reason that boundaries can, too. Again, communication here is key. Perhaps before you are done communicating about your boundary you establish that you’re going to try things this way for a certain period of time after which the intention is to reconvene and have a discussion about how that went and whether or not this boundary needs to change. You could also just check in after a certain period of time in the same way whether you established this in the original boundary communication or not. I do not recommend altering a boundary on a whim. This is a serious matter. You take your relationships and your boundaries seriously. Any changes should be communicated.
I wish you the best of luck in your relationships and boundaries!
Written by Amanda Taylor (they/their), an out and proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community and licensed marriage and family therapist at Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh.
8 Signs that Your Relationship will Lead to Marriage
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 12, 2019 conversations for couples, counseling near me, how to tell that your relationship will lead to marriage, marriage and family statistics, premarital counseling near me0 comments
According to the US National Bureau of Family and Marriage Statistics, in 2017 there were 130 million married couples living in the US. Still, not every relationship is going to make it to the altar, it is even true that not every healthy or compatible relationship will have long term potential. The issue is that everyone is looking for something a little different to inspire them to settle down, even if you and your partner might connect well from your perspective, there are other factors which influence the choice to commit deeper. For instance, your partner may not be ready for that commitment or may have a different vision for the kind of relationship that they want. You are likely feeling anxious and wanting some sign to know which direction your partner sees things headed. Here are 8 ways to tell that your partner isn’t that into you.
- Your partner uses “I” instead of “we.” Generally, there is a lot of use of the word ‘we’ when connected partners talk about their life, their past, and their future. If your partner is still using “I” to talk about their 5 year plan they probably aren’t that into you.
- There is a lot of making up and breaking up, or if your relationship is toxic.
- Doesn’t make plans more than a week or few days in advance. If your partner is fairly last minute and doesn’t talk about your summer vacation or what you might do for holiday’s then they are probably not that into you.
- You haven’t met your partners family. Meeting the family is a signal that your partner is invested in making you a part of their life. If you have been together for 6 months or more and haven’t met their family then this guy isn’t all that into you.
- Do you talk/text/communicate every day? If there isn’t daily communication it is likely that your partner may not be very committal or into you.
- Your partner hasn’t posted any pictures with you on social media. Of course we don’t want to define our relationships by how they measure on social media but we do know that partners who are into you enjoy occasionally sharing a photo of them being together on social media.
- Your partner never talks about your marriage and family or a future together. If your partner were open to the idea of marriage or forever together, you would know it because they would mention it. If they don’t discuss the topic ever its probably because it is the furthest thing from their mind.
- If he has never ask whether you’re seeing other people, it might be because they are not that into you. Genders react differently to love, men are wired to feel a sense of protectiveness from a partner who he shares a sexual bond, if his testosterone is coursing in high volume with you, he will want to know that you are not seeing others and if not, your partner isn’t that into you.
- You are under 27 years old. If you are young, the people you are dating are a little less likely to want to get married or be your forever relationship. The lack of long term potential may have nothing to do with you but merely a reality of the numbers with the national average a man marries is 29.8 and for women 27.8, if you are dating earlier than that you are encountering people who are experimenting with relationships.
If you are noticing these signs, the best thing to do is to talk to your partner about them and ask what they think, a good opener is, ‘I have been thinking about you and I and its hard for me to tell where this is going, do you see long term potential between us?’ This might lead to a deep conversation about your partners perspective and take some of the guess work out of your future together. Read here for more premarital questions for couples and intimate questions and conversations.