The demands of life have a way of pulling us apart from the people we love the most. Pressed by deadlines and appointments we often have no time left over for our most important relationships.
Whether you make New Year’s resolutions or not, a new year is an opportunity to turn a page and start a new chapter in your life. For married couples and parents it’s an ideal time to consider how you can use the gift of a new year to make plans for building stronger connections with those you love.
Sixty-one percent of working Americans say they don’t have enough time to do what they want, according to a recent Gallup survey. Sixty-one percent of parents caring for children under 18 years old feel the same time crunch. A poll of 2,000 parents by Virgin Holidays and Universal Orlando Resort found the average parent spends only 36 minutes a day with their child.
If the past year is one marked by too much busyness and not enough time with your spouse or children, consider doing one of the following to build stronger connections with each other in the new year.
1) Update Your Love Maps
The “love map” is a concept developed by relationship expert Dr. John Gottman. In studying what makes relationships work, he discovered that married couples who thrive in their relationship demonstrate a deep knowledge about each other, such as their interests and hobbies, likes, dislikes, hopes, and fears. Gottman calls these mental notes that couples keep about each other “love maps.” Gottman saw that positive interest in each other helped husbands and wives forge a strong bond that helped them stick together, especially during stressful chapters of their lives.
The concept of love maps also works for parents who want to build strong connections with their children. When parents show a positive interest in their child’s world by remembering what’s important to their child, a child feels supported and empowered. When they’re with their parents, they feel like they’re where they belong.
If life has been getting in the way of keeping up with what’s going on in your spouse’s or child’s world, you might commit yourself to updating some love maps. Start by paying closer attention to how they spend their time, what they talk about, and where they focus their attention. Be curious, ask questions, and remember what you learn.
2) Create New Shared Rituals
Shared rituals are positive activities or behaviors that couples, parents, and children regularly engage in together. Rituals a family might share in include having dinner together once a week, watching a favorite TV series, exercising together, or kissing each other goodnight. Shared rituals define a family’s identity. They are what a spouse talks about when telling others about their marriage, or a child telling others about their family. Shared rituals create a sense of connectedness between family members. Discuss with your spouse or children what new ritual could help create a sense of connectedness for your family in the new year.
3) Learn Something New Together
Whether it’s a new hobby, skill or area of study, learning something new together with your spouse or child is another way to cultivate connectedness. It gives you something to do together and something in common to talk about. If learning something new involves taking a class, it also makes it necessary to carve out time that you can be together. It’s one other way to strengthen the bond with the people who matter most in your life.
3 Simple Ways to Build Stronger #Family Connections in the New Year #happynewyear
A version of this post also appeared on LifeZette.com.