I love new years and new opportunities.

I start thinking about my goals and changes I want to make as early as November, and as Jan. 1 approaches I get giddy thinking about what could be.

While everyone focuses on traditional resolutions like weight loss and getting more organized, I want to challenge you to set some new goals for your marriage.

Let me give you 4 marriage resolutions that can change your marriage in 2018.

1. Budget for Childcare

The most popular reason couples give when asked why they don’t go on more dates or spend time together without kids is because they don’t have childcare. I understand the pressure and stress involved with finding someone you trust to care for your children; they are your most prized possession, so you can’t take the decision lightly, but in the long run not investing in your marriage will be more detrimental than average childcare. Budget and plan ahead so nothing keeps you from time alone with your spouse. Never forget you were married before you were parents, keeping your relationship fresh is the best thing you can do for your family.

2. Set a bedtime for your kids

If your house is anything like mine, bedtime can be the most stressful part of the day. Trying to give baths, put on pajamas, and read a story, while kids are screaming kills any reserve of romance you may have built up throughout the day, but what if you knew every night you had 1-2 hours of focused time with your spouse, how could that change your relationship? Sometimes it may mean sex, but sometimes it may mean lying in bed and talking, or rubbing your wife’s feet (which will most likely lead to sex) or watching a movie together, the options are limitless. Men, turn off the TV. Ladies, tell your kid “no” when they want to stay up or get in your bed. It will take time to install a new family habit, but if you stick with it, you will reap the benefits of “kid free” time before you go to bed.

3. Take a vacation without kids

Are you noticing a theme about setting boundaries between your children and your marriage? I absolutely adore my children, but I can’t overstate the importance of keeping your marriage fresh, and it requires discipline and planning to make sure your spouse is a priority, it will never happen on purpose.

Often, when I ask a couple when the last time was they took a trip without their kids, instead of an answer I get a look of bewilderment, with eyes asking, “is vacationing without kids a real thing?” Maybe you thought the same thing when you read the title of point #3. My wife and I started the tradition of taking at least one trip every year without our kids. Most years it’s a long weekend, but some years it’s been a full week. We have to plan ahead of time to drive kids to our parents or find houses for them to stay at in town. We’re lucky to have great friends who are willing to watch our kids overnight, and we do the same for them when they need to get away. I know not everyone has those options, but you can get creative and find a solution if it’s important to you. The trip doesn’t have to be expensive, go camping if you have to, but figure out something for just you and your spouse to do for a few days to remember why you fell in love before the stresses of parenting entered your life.

4. Set a “sex goal”

You may have heard the old wives’ tale often told to newlyweds that if you put $1 in a jar every time you have sex the first year of marriage, and take out $1 every time you have sex after the first year of marriage, you will never run out of dollars. I’m not sure it’s true, but it’s probably not far from true. According to David Schnarch, Ph.D., through a study conducted with more than 20,000 couples, he found that only 26% of couples are hitting the once-a-week mark, with the majority of the respondents reporting sex only once or twice a month, or less!

I don’t know where you and your spouse fall on the spectrum, but I do know more sex couldn’t hurt your relationship. I wrote about the power of sex in a relationship here. What if you had an honest conversation with your spouse and set a goal for how often you wanted to have sex this year? It sounds crazy I know, but it shouldn’t.

You’re 42% more likely to accomplish a goal when you tell someone or write it down. If you’re just hoping your marriage has a romantic revival the chances are low it will happen, but if you decide to proactive you can recapture that spark. The more sex you have, the more sex, you will want to have. What if you bought a calendar and every time you had sex this year you put an X on the day. How many X’s do you want to count at the end of the year? In my experience wives will need to round up your initial goal and husbands will need to round down, but I can’t think of a healthier conversation a married couple (especially a couples married for several years) could have to get on the same page physically. Often the simplest things can make the biggest difference.

Great marriages don’t happen by accident; you have to be intentional. Which of these goals would help your marriage the most in 2018?

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