By Ashleigh Slater, Crosswalk.com
Are you and your spouse wanting to kick off the new year right? If so, don’t stop with that midnight kiss. This January, join hearts and hands and determine to start – and finish – this new year as a united team. Here are three ways you can do this.
1. Make Peace with Last Year
A few months into this past year, my husband Ted’s normally high, but manageable blood pressure sky-rocketed into dangerous levels. His doctor struggled for most of the year on how to bring it down. Ted’s meds were increased and he underwent a $1,100 stress test that insurance refused to cover. During this time, one of our daughters started breaking out in an inexplicable rash that resulted in multiple trips to the allergist and I had to have several moles removed, one of which came back as slightly abnormal. It was stressful to say the least. Both on us individually and on our relationship.
Can you relate? Maybe the past year was rough on your marriage as a result of financial issues, health challenges, or relational struggles. While it’s likely you’ll have to again face some of these issues in the coming year, determine to make peace with last year’s events. What I mean by that is this: Decide together to see these challenges not just as annoyances, but as opportunities for growth, both individually and as a couple. What’s one way you can do this?
Sit down together and reflect. Talk about how the struggles you faced wore on you, and also how they made you stronger. Consider times when you let them divide you rather than unite you and discuss how you could do better next time. Resolve that in the coming year, you’ll try to face difficulties with an “us vs. the problem” attitude instead of a “me vs. you” mentality.
2. Choose Lightheartedness This Year
Ted and I ended the past year with much coughing and sneezing. A week before Christmas, our entire family was hit by an upper respiratory infection that lingered … and lingered. Do you know what we decided to do? Laugh. We chose to hear the chorus of coughs that resounded through our house not as an inconvenience that threatened to ruin our holidays, but as part of our end-of-the-year story. A chapter that we decided would be marked by chicken noodle soup and family movie nights snuggled on the couch together rather than frustration.
Decide together to approach the coming year with a sense of lightheartedness. While this points to the ability to laugh together at things like colds and coughs, don’t stop there. Also choose to practice a lightheartedness that comes from what I call in my book Team Us: Marriage Together an “unburdened heart.” Or, in other words, a heart that’s not weighed down by grudges toward one another.
If you’ve kept a list of the ways your spouse has failed, disappointed, or hurt you in the past, determine to let these things go – either personally or, if they are deeper issues, through the help of a trusted counselor – and determine that this year you won’t keep a “record of wrongs.” That instead, you will strive to not be so easily offended, to do your best to overlook offenses, and to seek to be a team.
3. Get on the Same Page … Literally
Ted and I have talked about what we want the coming year to include for us. For example, we want to pay off our debt and to be more purposeful when it comes to romance in our marriage. What about you? Are you and your spouse on the same page when it comes to your hopes and dreams for the next twelve months?
One way you can get on the same page is to brainstorm together. Grab some paper and some pens and make a list. Jot down what you desire the new year to hold for you as an individual and as a couple. I recommend writing individual lists first. This allows both of you the freedom to be honest about your personal hopes. Next, come together and discuss your lists. What items are common? Which ones are unique? What are some practical ways you can work together to accomplish these things?
Decide this year that no matter what challenges you may face, that you’re in them together. In your marriage, declare this the year of “Team Us!”
Ashleigh Slater is the author of the book, Team Us: Marriage Together (Moody Publishers, June 2014). With twenty years of writing experience, she loves to unite the power of a good story with practical application to encourage others. Ashleigh and her family reside in Atlanta, Georgia. To learn more, visit AshleighSlater.com.
Publication date: January 5, 2015