There are two kinds of people that you meet this time of year: those who have made New Year’s resolutions — and those who hate New Year’s resolutions.
The University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology reported at the beginning of 2014 that 45 percent of Americans “usually” make such resolutions and 38 percent “never” make them. That leaves just under 20 percent who only cop to them when they are successful (in my opinion: the research says the remaining 17 percent of Americans “infrequently” make resolutions).
The top resolutions in 2014 were largely focused on self-improvement: losing weight, getting organized, saving more and spending less money, learning something new and getting healthy — especially by quitting smoking. Less than 10 percent of people were expected to successfully achieve their desired outcome.
Number nine on the list of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions is to fall in love. “The Book of Odds,” a collection of statistics about everyday life authored by Louise Firth Campbell and Amram Shapiro, reported that more that half of people surveyed believe in love at first sight, and 1 in 4 adults believe they could fall in love with any number of people. Optimism lives.
Self-improvement is an admirable goal; looking at yourself and finding flaws that can be improved is neither easy nor fun. I admire folks who are successful in making the changes they desire.
Could the same principles, however, be applied to your marriage? As I’ve often considered in this column, every marriage can be improved in some way, shape or form, no matter how minor.
I sought advice from Social Worker Lynn Zakeri of Northfield. She recommended a theory promoted by pastor and marriage counselor Gary Chapman in his book and radio program, “The Five Love Languages.” The concept is this: every one of us speaks a different love language which makes us feel the most appreciated and cared for. There are words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Relationships work best when each partner understands which of the five languages their partner values most and responds appropriately; spouses don’t necessarily have to speak the same language in order to live happily every after.
Zakeri applied the concept to her own life. She loves to hear her husband say, “Thanks for all you did today” and to see him change the light bulb she mentions is out. He, on the other hand, just wants her to sit next to him on the couch for some quiet time together.
“What if, in the New Year, we all resolved to learn our partner’s love language and act on it weekly?” Zakeri mused. “Is that too much work, or is the payoff worth the investment?”
Her question is a personal one that requires a few minutes of reflection. As you consider it, however, remember that such an act might further your pursuit of four of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions for 2014: enjoy life to the fullest (#4), help others in their dreams (#8), fall in love (#9), and spend more time with family (#10). Best of luck to you in your endeavors!
Love & Marriage columnist Joanna Brown can be reached at [email protected]