New Year’s resolutions for your relationship shouldn’t come from a sex and love expert—they should come from you and your partner. But, some couples do not know how to create resolutions that will really help them be more loving. Here are some ideas to help you write your own relationship resolutions.

1. Be kind. Many partners are too critical of one another. They make rude comments about their partner’s appearance, like their weight or their haircut. They tell each other what to do. Even small things, like loading a dishwasher, are criticized. But if you are compassionate, then you will see that your partner is just like you, doing the best they can to get through the day. Treat your partner as you would like to be treated, with understanding and compassion. Perhaps you could identify some areas of improvement where you could start being less critical and more kind.
2. Plan. Many couples are overly committed to activities. They work and sometimes they are also in school. They take care of pets, children, parents, and a household. There is barely time for self-care, let alone one’s relationship. But, your partner is not a potted silk plant that you can set in the corner and expect him or her to take care of themselves. Not only does your partner have emotional and physical needs, but you have those needs, too. The only way many couples can connect is if they make time for their relationship a priority. Just as you make plans at work and, if you have them, your children, you also need to make plans for yourself. Weekly or every other week, sit down together for 15 minutes to find time in your schedule for each other. You might even do what a lot of couples do and plan time to have sex.
3. Be polite. When my husband does some small favor for me—even just heating up some soup for lunch—I thank him. To others, we might sound a little formal, or even silly, but being polite to each other lets us know that we don’t take one another for granted. What about you? Could you and your partner talk to each other with the same respect you would other people in your life, like your boss or an assistant? Make a resolution to try speaking to each other politely.
4. Focus on the positive. Some people only notice what’s wrong with everything. It isn’t just their partner, either. It’s the place where they live, the room they stayed in for their last vacation, what they got for Christmas, and so on. It’s just one complaint after another. Which is hard to listen to, isn’t it? Do you or your partner have a habit of noticing only what’s wrong? How would it help tension in your relationship or your household if you were to notice positive things? There is always something good to notice, or something nice that happened. How might it help your relationship if you commented daily on something your partner did that you appreciated?
5. Be affectionate. Many couples that come in for sex therapy have stopped being affectionate with each other. They do not kiss hello and good-bye. They never give one another a hug. When they watch TV, they sit far apart. They don’t hold hands when they walk. Yet often one or both partners will wonder why they don’t have sex more frequently. Well, it’s hard to get a fire going if there is no spark. Affection is the spark that keeps the physical connection from going dead. Resolve to start with a small gesture, like giving each other a quick squeeze before you part in the morning.

You may ask, why don’t I include anything about sex? Because if you are a couple in a committed relationship, doing these things often improves your emotional connection. Most couples agree that when they have warm feelings about each other, they have sex more regularly. Of course, it isn’t automatic. Sometimes people have sexual problems that need to be dealt with directly. But for the majority of couples, making even just one or two New Year’s relationship resolutions may get romance rolling in the right direction for 2018.