Dr. Jess on Sex: Relationship resolutions

From Sundays just for the two of you to a digital detox, you should give these a try

Happy new year! If your goals for 2018 relate to diet, exercise, sleep, overall health, finances or time management, working on your relationship might be just what the doctor ordered to ensure that you follow through. Research reveals that a happy relationship is positively correlated with better sleep, improved diet, greater income, lower stress levels and a wealth of other positive health outcomes and the new year is the perfect time to invest in your relationship. 

I spoke with couples from across the city to find out how they’re going to make 2018 the best year yet. Here’s what they had to say along with my advice below:

“We’ve blocked off one Sunday per month that’s just for us all the way through December. If your baptism, wedding, or birthday falls on that day, we won’t be coming. We need time to try new things. In January, we’re checking out the Winter at Ontario Place exhibit.” — Mick and Tony of Leaside

“I’m going to love my body. I’m not waiting until I lose ten pounds or can fit into my old jeans. I’m doing it now. And since I ditched the guilt I associated with eating, I’m actually eating better and working out more.” — Aradhana of North Toronto

“I’m going to stop basing how I treat my partner on past behaviour. I’m guilty of assuming that he will repeat past behaviour that annoys me, which sets him up for failure and isn’t fair. So I’m going to try to assume the best instead of the worst and I put a weekly reminder in my calendar so I remember.” — Jordie of Parkdale

“I plan to have more fun, laugh more, and make more time for us – without the kids. We’ve made plans to go out to dinner, watch a movie in our bedroom and get away sans children. We need time to reconnect and remember that we are important to each other.” — Bindu of Corktown

“We are going to eat better by going meatless four days a week. We both gained weight in 2017 and it has affected our energy levels and sex lives. We’ve also uninstalled UberEats from our phones since we fell into the habit of ordering in almost every night.” — Adnan and Thea of Yorkville

“We are cutting off distractions and reducing the time we spend with friends so we have more time just for the two of us. We’re reserving a block of time each weekend for more meaningful interactions with each other.” — Cher and Wil of Downtown

I love learning from real-life couples and I have a few additional resolutions for your consideration:

Take a digital detox. Every night, place your phones in a box as far away from your bedroom as possible (e.g. in a closet or in the basement). You can resolve to do this before or after dinner or at a set specific time. The goal is to fall asleep and wake up to one another instead of to your digital feeds. If you're already making excuses (e.g. I need to charge my phone overnight — poke a hole in the box and plug it in!), it’s likely evidence that you need this detox more than you’d like to admit.

Take a relationship inventory. It may not sound sexy to plan for a successful relationship, but it’s far sexier than the resentment, heartache and breakups that result from a lack of planning. Make a list of things you’re doing well and make a list of things you could improve in the relationship. I keep a running list on my phone and add to it each week as a reminder that I’m far from perfect, but committed to growth.

Update your greetings. One simple strategy to eroticize your daily interactions with your partner involves shifting the way you say hello and goodbye each day. Think about the message a dog sends when it greets you: OMG! I’m so excited you’re here. I missed you! I love you! Let me kiss and touch you. Now think about how you greet your partner: Oh. Hi. As you barely look up from your phone. Be a dog and show some enthusiasm when your partner walks in!

Wake up with gratitude. Every morning when you wake up, take ten seconds to look at your partner and be thankful that they’re lying beside you. It’s simple and it works to boost feelings of connection and intimacy.

Be self-centred (at times). If you’ve read this far with an open mind, you’ve likely already embraced the growth mindset. Good for you. You’re committed to being a better version of yourself and you deserve a partner who does the same. So speak up and ask for what you want. You don’t always have to be a giver; you also need to learn to take. More on this later in 2018…

Whatever you resolve to change, accomplish or embody in 2018, consider writing your resolutions down and sharing them with your partner to improve your chances of following through. Here’s to the best year ever — in and out of the bedroom!

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO