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The new year is a time to feel ambitious. Some start new diets or exercise regimes, others make career and financial goals. In all cases, we commit to change—to do new things in the name of self betterment and life improvement. We resolve to be different.

This year, we’d like to encourage you to make goals for one of the the most important aspects of your life: your marriage. This concept may not be intuitive, so I hope to provide some ideas and encouragement to help you and your spouse make the next year the best year in your marriage so far!

Here are five things to do more, and five to do less:

1. More Bible Reading

This is first for a reason. Nothing will transform you like immersing yourselves in God’s Word. The more you read, the greater your appetite and the more you’re filled with truth.

If you rely solely on your pastor and others to tell you what the Bible says, you’re missing out in a massive way. Make time, dig in, read the Bible for yourself, and watch as God renews your mind. It will have an unprecedented effect on your marriage.

Tools needed:

  1. Bible: We recommend the ESV translation because the translators went to great lengths to preserve the original intent of each word and phrase—even more so than other versions.
  2. Reading PlanThe Bible App as many good plans available for all smart phones. I’ve been working through the ESV Study Bible plan (1-year, whole bible), and have found it well formed and relatively easy to keep up with (about 20-40 mins/day of reading, and I’m a slow reader).
  3. Journal: Writing down God’s Word and the lessons He’s teaching us is transforming. Also, looking back through journals can be powerful for many reasons.

2. More Prayer

Pray alone, pray with your spouse, be intentional. Set aside time to pray in a focused way, and keep yourself in an attitude of prayer throughout the day. Nothing replaces prayer. Here are a few posts to get you started:

3. More Encouragement

Make it a goal this year to intentionally encourage each other. Set reminders to help you remember, then watch the habit of encouragement take over. Some ideas:

  • Send an encouraging text message on a daily basis
  • Send a letter in the mail to your own house, addressed to your spouse
  • Give each other gifts just because
  • Learn to speak your spouse’s love language

Encourage your spouse with purpose, and watch how the encouragement multiplies in your home:

4. More Quality Time

Nothing replaces quality time with your husband or wife. There are no shortcuts, and no substitutes. We all know this, but the busyness of life can make it difficult. Make this a priority by setting aside time to be together now, when the year is young.

  • Mark off one weekend a month where you do something new together (it doesn’t have to be expensive; be creative)
  • Plan one date night per week if possible. Coffee, ice cream, frozen yogurt, whatever. Just get in each others space and be emotionally intimate.

More on quality time in your marriage:

5. More Community

Who are your friends? Are you serving in your church? Do you regularly attend a church together?

Your marriage is your ministry, but you also need friends who are alongside you and helping you grow. Be intentional about your friendships, by nurturing a good blend of “input” friendships (those who help you grow and encourage you) and “output” friendships (those who you are ministering to and pouring into for their benefit).

6. Less Television

Television can be such a time waster. We’ve recently moved and have decided not to own a TV, and it’s great (except when football is on).

How would your life be different if you removed television from your daily routine? At least consider limiting your TV time in the coming year, and replace it with more intentional activities that build your life and marriage.

7. Less Social Media

Social media isn’t intrinsically bad, but it can be a time waster. We can also fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others in unhealthy ways, especially since you only see a glimpse of the best moments in your friends lives. Consider limiting your time on Facebook, Instagram, and the like by being mindful of your usage.

We’ve removed a few apps from our phones to facilitate this. It’s uniquely liberating. Perhaps you can do the same for a season?

8. Less Work

When you’re old and grey together, you’ll never wish you’d spent more time working. You’ll cherish the moments you shared with the ones you love. Work is good, but it’s not meant to be your entire life.

If you have to work extra long hours to afford your lifestyle, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your financial commitments? This year, resolve to strike a healthy balance with your job, and do whatever is necessary to make it possible.

9. Less Complaining

Complaining starts when we forget all that God has done for us. A complaining attitude stems from an attitude of ungratefulness.

Selena wrote a post on that: Thankfulness: Learning How to Speak a New Language

10. Less Unhealthy Arguing

Couples argue; it’s part of marriage. Healthy couples still argue, they just do it in a way that builds their marriage up instead of tearing it down. Use language that is constructive, and try not to let emotions (anger, frustration) dictate how you speak to your spouse; when your emotions fade, your spouse will still be there.

Here are a few posts about healthy arguing in marriage:

Cheers to a better marriage this year!

I encourage you to set a time with your spouse to intentionally discuss how you can make the next year your best yet. Write down your goals, and talk about a plan to tackle them. Make them personal. If you can, make them measurable – so you can see how you’re doing.

As we start a new year, it’s our sincere prayer that you’ll grow closer to Jesus and closer to your spouse than ever before. May you start the next year with eager anticipation for what God is going to do in and through your marriage!

I know we’re excited, and thankful for the opportunity to walk and grow alongside you. May God bless you and your family richly with his perfect presence in your life.

What goals & resolutions do you have for next year?

Reposted with permission. Read the original article here.