We’re starting our blog off in 2019, just like most people start a long list of promises and resolutions each year. So we thought it would be a fun first “real” blog post, by sharing 11 resolutions we’re making for our marriage this coming year. We hope you’ll do the same.

Resolve to never talk negatively about your spouse to other people.

There’s not much worse than finding out your spouse said something awful about you behind your back to a family member, co-worker, or neighbor. It can definitely be one of the most hurtful things they can hear.

Worst of all, talking negatively about your spouse all the time will make you start to believe it.

This one seems simple but it’s not that easy if you’re in the bad habit of trash-talking your spouse to others. But it’s as simple as this – why should anyone else respect your spouse, when you don’t? (Not only that – it makes you look petty and – perhaps – even maybe shopping for a replacement.)

Marriage is a partnership. It’s a collaboration; two players on the same team. You can’t possibly build a team when you sabotage your teammates.

Resolve to do one kind thing – unasked – every day.

This one is simple to think about but like all habits, it’s going to take some work to “stick”.

One nice or kind thing for your spouse. Every day.

For instance, Kari makes Jeremy’s dinner plates every night. Not because he expects it, but because it’s something small she can do to show him he’s important to her.

Bring your spouse coffee. Give a backrub when they’ve had a bad day. Run a bath for them. Make a favorite meal.

Anything you can do that simply makes your spouse happy, with no expectation of anything in return (even a thank you), will do.

Resolve to leave work at work whenever you can.

This one is tough for some people. Kari spent years as a general manager and eventually a regional HR manager, and so her phone was always ringing. She had to step away from dinners out, time with the family on holidays, etc. Even vacations got interrupted.

That’s the nature of working your way up in corporate America. We get it.

But there are times when an interruption could be avoided if we choose to. For instance, on our 25th anniversary cruise last October, Jeremy set his company email autoresponder to say that unless it was a client and an emergency, any emails left would not only not be responded to – they wouldn’t even be read.

Set your phone down. Or better yet, turn it off for a few hours, and enjoy your family. You only work so hard for these people you love. So show them that love for a few hours a day.

Resolve to have a date night at least once a month.

You fell in love while you dated. Why can’t you fall deeper in love, or fall in love all over again, doing the same thing?

Dating is more than just going to dinner and a movie. Think back to when you were dating each other – you dressed up, made sure you were groomed and smelled good, cleaned the car, got her flowers, etc. Maybe you were one of the good guys and even opened her door for her (Jeremy still does this).

You get the idea. One night a month – at least – DATE each other again. Plan it, spend a little more than a typical night, and woo your spouse all over again. You’ll start to experience the same feelings as when you first met. We promise!

Resolve to hold hands.

I, Jeremy, will admit that this doesn’t always come naturally for men. But guys, it’s something our wives need. Closeness isn’t just a bedroom activity. She needs to know she matters to you in the small moments of your day just as much as the wild nights.

Plus, physical contact and affection are wonderful bits of foreplay. Not that every physical touch needs to lead to intimacy, but the body contact, closeness, and even pheromones you exchange can’t help but draw you closer to each other.

Holding her hand, especially in public, does more than affirm to her that your relationship is meaningful to you. It shows the world that SHE’S important to you, too. It’s a kind of “staking your claim” that men can understand, but it’s also a kind of “I’m proud to be with her” for her.

Resolve to make love at least once a week.

We’ve said this for years, and we believe it strongly – couples who are sleeping together don’t break up.

Sex is obviously vital to the intensity and integrity of a marriage. It’s essential for both men and women.

We could write a book on the subject of sex in marriage (and maybe this blog will have one by the time we’re through), but for the sake of brevity today, let’s leave it at that.

The Bible says our bodies are not our own in a marriage – we owe each other the sacred act of sex. When you stood before God and your friends and family and claim each other as man and wife, you chose to “forsake all others”. It’s not fair to ask your spouse to only come to you for that basic need, and then deny them access to you.

So get busy in 2019. Lock your bedroom door, put on some mood music, and keep your marriage fires stoked.

Resolve to cook a meal together once a week.

This is one we’re not even good at (and we owned two restaurants at one point). But it’s great fun and, again, is an act of creation that you can do together. Plus, cooking together usually means eating together afterward, which is a wonderful cheap-and-quick date night idea.

You don’t have to be gourmet chefs to do this, and you don’t need to make it an elaborate meal. Just get together in the kitchen and, like the life you want to make together, create something wonderful.

Resolve to say Thank You.

Kari says this doesn’t mean saying “thank you” as we would a stranger on the street. We should have basic manners and courtesy for everyone we come in contact with.

What we mean here is, say “thank you” for the things you both just take for granted.

Say “thank you” for always sitting down and paying the bills, or always getting laundry done before the work week starts. Say “thanks” for the lawn-mowing, or the Honey-Do list items that get done. Say “thank you” for keeping the car’s oil changed, and that every time you open your fridge, there are groceries.

You get the idea. We tend to be more courteous every day to strangers on the street than we often are to the people who love us the most. Resolve to change that.

Resolve to listen carefully when your spouse talks to you.

Jeremy has moments where he’s good at this and lots of moments where he’s terrible at it. But the truth is, nothing is more disrespectful to your spouse than ignoring what they are saying. And yes, guys, even when the game is on, and she comes in and interrupts it, stop and listen to what she needs (the game can be paused).

The flip side of this is, make sure you aren’t taking your spouse’s time flippantly. If you’re going to interrupt something your spouse is doing, just make sure it’s important enough to break in. Otherwise, wait for a more opportune time. (But guys especially, if she is talking to you, don’t fake that you’re listening. Women can sense that a mile away.)

Resolve to work on your home together.

We’re always working on our house. The last two homes we owned were brand new, so we had very little to do on them to make them “ours”, but our current home was not only 15 years old when we bought it, it had been a rental in a previous life (your neighbors will have all the gossip on your house – go ask).

Our new home needed a complete landscaping job, painting, patching, cleaning, new furniture, window blinds, and much more. We handled the tasks by working on these items together.

Make a list together, to make sure both of you get what’s important to you. For instance, our bedroom sits over most of our garage, and it was cold in the winter (good for snuggling). Jeremy wanted to insulate the outer walls of the garage to help keep some heat in. That wasn’t the job Kari would have signed up for, but guess what – we spent the better part of a Saturday, together, sweaty and itchy, insulating our garage together.

Working on your home works on your marriage more than you can imagine.

Resolve to pray together every day.

We readily admit that not all of our readers will be people of faith (especially people of our faith), but this is one thing you should do anyway. Whether it’s praying to God, or meditating together, or reading something meaningful together, it’s the act of placing your marriage and your lives into the hands of something greater than either one of you.

We pray every night, even when one of us is travelling (Facetime has been a marriage saver in many ways for us). It doesn’t have to be long and formal. Just hold hands, bow your heads, and thank God for the day you’ve had. Thank Him for the person holding your hand. Thank Him for the health and safety of your family today. Pray for others who aren’t so lucky.

Learning to be grateful – together – is a wonderful act of intimacy you share with your spouse.

That’s our top 10 list for 2019. What did we forget? What would yours include?