Forget running to the gym or taking up a new hobby. Rachael Shearer plans to start off her 2015 in a far more useful way that’s often the hardest thing for couples to do – talk.
I’M not a believer in New Year’s resolutions. That's not to say that I don't believe there are people out there who really commit to "dry January" and "marathon training," but it has never really worked out for me. My beliefs are founded on almost 25 years of personal experience.
Even as a child I could never stick to Lent. The forbidden fruit complex would only drive me to consume more chocolate and crisps that would merit a call to quit in the first place.
I would dream and hallucinate of chocolate worlds in which to fully immerse myself and consume until I died. The happy mind of your average seven-year-old.
Now it seems nothing has changed. I resolve to get fit and my bed becomes a magnet. I resolve to become a vegetarian and wind up hanging out at local abattoirs.
I resolve to work harder at my job, but I end up quitting or joining a cult. It's useless. So I have abandoned my beliefs.
Drastic change as a means to kicking off the year just seems absolutely daft. You're fat on turkey and everything is cold and boring. All you really want to do is eat the leftover treats that nobody else wanted while watching "The Sound of Music" for the 400th time.
I much prefer small and gradual change, like wearing in a particularly tricky pair of shoes or buying a less expensive brand of BB cream before you're ready to really commit. And the same goes for relationships.
January is a great time to reflect on the last year. Look at the highlights, lowlights, brightest spots on and patches of black-hole-darkness.
Cutely reminisce about "this time last year" and "can you believe it" and then muse over what you might like to be different, better or even slightly improved.
For my long distance relationship, I know the obvious change is something along the lines of living on the same continent, but the reality is we are facing into another year of negotiating flights, time off work, and who is earning the most money and can therefore afford to fly more often than the other.
Last year he flew 200 percent more than me, so 2015 sees the pressure on my air miles. However, griping over this is about as useful as "normal" couples bickering over the remote and the toilet seat.
This is why I'm about the small, manageable changes. Mine will be to become more proactive, and to be better and faster at making decisions.
On January 1, this quite literally amounted to choosing what movie we would see at the cinema and then choosing our pizza toppings later that evening. Baby steps.
As for applying this little motto to more real life scenarios, I'm curious as to how it will all pan out. The most important decision at this point in life is always, and unfortunately, deciding what you want. In life, in love, in work, in whatever. It's a nigh on impossible decision to make in certain circumstances, but once made can be hugely liberating, exciting and fruitful!
One of my oldest friends in Ireland (she's 25, so I mean oldest in the sense that we have been friends for quite a long time as opposed to having befriended a cool divorcee) had a rather intense and difficult year in the land of love, and has made the decision that she is just not ready for another one.
She described this feeling as "liberating" and one that has made her feel "free" and able to focus on other aspects of her life, and pursue things previously unexplored. How fantastic and exemplary for this joyous beginning of 2015! Good for her.
However, it's all peaches and cream when the decision-making process involves just you, and it's far easier to move forward on said decision. But when what you want is another person, things get a lot more complicated, because suddenly you have to worry about what they want to – and what if it's not you?
My solution to this problem is quite simple – and yes, another "decision" I made, go me! It's talking, asking questions and getting answers.
It may seem a little far-fetched, but it's the oldest trick in the book. In a relationship, the topic of said relationship can be the hardest subject to broach. Fear of rocking the boat creeps in, as well as that incredibly annoying phrase “if it's not broken, don't fix it."
However, just because things aren't in such drastic condition as being "broken,” they might still need a gentle kick in the backside. Old walls still need a fresh lick of paint, and such a fresh take on the original foundations of a relationship can bring something solid back to life again.
Having this "what do you/I/ we want" conversation can only result in good things.
Best case scenario: You both still want each other, agree on small changes, plans for the future and are excited to take the relationship to the next level with marriage and mortgages and babies galore (which is all relative, of course).
Worst case scenario: You want entirely different things (you want a wedding in Barbados, he wants to go to Ibiza with "the lads") and your visions of the future have absolutely nothing in common. Well, thank God you had this conversation now so you can reboot January, boot the bore, and start working on things you do want rather than on someone who is just wasting your time.
Hurrah! See, talking is amazing.
So for your New Year’s relationship solution/reinvigoration /magical surprise, just have a chat. Reminisce a little, think fondly on the past, and then gently cast your eyes towards the future.
It doesn't have to be quite the marriage and babies scenario, but are you on a similar track, if even for the next year? Basically, are you on the same page? If so, then start turning.