New Year's Resolutions That Survive the Test of Time

"Research shows that people in healthy relationships are healthier [and] live longer," so fixing your marriage may be another route to your other, personal goals, she points out.

Weiner-Davis uses tactics similar to those of Norcross and Rubin to address interpersonal growth: She advises couples to set relationships goals, "break goals down into doable chunks" and "make a game plan" for how you make it happen.

She emphasizes that for relationships, goals must be phrased positively, otherwise "you'll start noticing the negative behavior and focus on the problem, not the solution."

She says if a husband complains that his wife is too critical, for example, the goal should be for her to make more appreciative comments of the things he does for her instead of her resolving "not to nag," a relationship resolution that will only make the husband focus on the number of criticisms he receives.

"Many people think they've fallen out of love but they've fallen short of relationships skills," Weiner-Davis says, adding that focusing on issues such as improved communication, shared activities or passion as goals for the New Year will do wonders for your relationship and, consequently, your personal happiness.

Whether a personal declaration to quit smoking or a reaffirmation of the vows you made on your wedding day, Norcross says, the ever-present desire and will to make a change for the better is heartening.

"It's the American dream to become better," he says, and such a desire "embodies the spirit of the New Year's resolution."

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