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Happy New Year, belles! Those of y’all who are familiar with Southern Weddings and particularly our Editor-in-Chief, Lara Casey, can imagine that goals and resolutions are a big deal around here. We’ve been in a month-long process of setting company goals for the year, and we each set individual professional goals, too!

While it’s very important to us all that SW continue to grow and improve, we also all agree that in the end, the very best thing we could say at the end of 2015 is that our relationships with our significant others are stronger. A belief in the importance of strong marriage is at the very bedrock of the Sweet Tea Society and Southern Weddings, and it’s something we all try to live out every day. On that note, here’s a taste of the things we’ll be doing in the new year to cultivate truly beautiful relationships!

Lisa: This is it–the year Dave and I get married!! With just four months to go till the big day, my relationship goal is to keep our marriage at the forefront of our minds as we finish planning our wedding, and then to intentionally celebrate the little things once we settle into newlywed life. I never want to forget our first few days of living together, the first time I sign my new name, and the first traditions we create as husband and wife, and I want to soak in and appreciate everything I can about finally being married to my best friend!

Emily: This year, John and I have decided to tackle a year-long reading plan for the Bible together. I’m looking forward to hearing his insights, growing in our faith, and just spending more intentional time together!

Nicole: This year, Taylor and I are resolving to be more intentional with our time together and to create everyday adventures. The nature of Taylor’s job requires that he works seven days a week, often making it difficult for us to work in the activities we’d love to take part in (or even find a date night). Also, in looking back at the past year, we realized that we had no memorable moments from the first few months of the year, and that we often hit the New Year with a sense of working with our heads down, instead of celebrating each day. Time to change all of that, slowly but surely!

Kristin: As we turn the page into 2015, we look forward to a fresh start and a year that promises to bring exciting adventures and new challenges for #TeamKyleandKristin. We will be focusing on family and faith as we plan for the year ahead. First, we will be making a concerted effort to love on family and friends through thoughtful and regular communication and intentional quality time. Through our first few years of marriage, we have learned just how valuable our family and friends are and how these relationships help nurture and deepen our love for one another. Second, we have been challenged by our small group to focus on praying bold prayers and expanding our prayer life. We want to start keeping a documented list of these bold prayers as part of our family legacy. And for fun, we want to find a cooking class or two to take together–to enhance our skills, further our education and expand our culturalization!

Marissa: 2014 proved to be quite a crazy year for our little family, and I’m sure 2015 will bring its own adventures. This year, BDK and I plan to carve out some time to go on more dates (even family dates – we love taking our girl to the park or walking around the outside shopping center we have near our home). We plan to pray with EKK more, and teach her just how loved she is through our actions toward her, and toward each other. And, we plan to celebrate more. (KNW will love this one!) With a new baby, our own birthdays and our anniversary slipped through the cracks a bit. This year, we’ll be celebrating those, and many more big and small events!

Lara: 2015 is likely going to be a big year for us as our family grows, so our priority is keeping our marriage as number 1! Ari and I both have busy work schedules and a busy three-year-old, so making time just for us is really important. This means pre-planning and blocking off intentional time on our calendars for date nights. If we are strong together, we can be better parents, friends, and do better work each day. Another relationship priority for us it to go to God before we vent to each other about challenges. This helps so much to make our time together meaningful!

Ready to make your own? Go for it! Yours could be something concrete, like doing the dishes, or something more general, like cultivating gratitude daily for your husband/fiance. Leave a note in the comments so we can cheer you on! Whatever you choose, know we are proud of you for taking the small step!!

P.S. These beautiful engagement photos are by Blue Ribbon Vendor Sarah Joelle! See the rest in our Facebook Friday series.

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar Jillian Boland reply

    Love this! Such a great idea- ready to work on mine today :) Emily- do you know what reading plan yall are doing yet? I’ve started one but don’t love the format. Looking for what others have found and like! Great seeing you last week!

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Happy New Year, belles! We are big believers in goals and resolutions in the Southern Weddings office: we always set company goals for the year together, as well as individual professional goals, and Lara is pretty much the Queen of Thoughtful Goal Setting (parts 1, 2, and 3 of this year’s series are live on her blog!). While we like the traditional resolutions as much as anyone else (healthy eating, regular exercise, and less screen time are all good things), we wanted to spend a little time today talking about resolutions for our relationships.

Just like most areas of our life, our relationships can use a little tune-up every so often. Whether we’ve been together two months or two years, are married, engaged, or dating, less-than-desirable behaviors have a way of creeping in over time. Instead of just accepting these things as an inevitable part of long-term relationships, we believe in working together to make each year better than the one that came before it. Can I get an amen?

We thought we’d share our own relationship resolutions for the new year to help get your wheels turning! Take a few minutes to sit down with your honey in the next few days to see if you can’t come up with your own — it’s actually pretty fun!

Lisa: One of mine and Dave’s biggest resolutions for 2014 is to plan a meaningful, Christ-centered wedding that is a true reflection of our relationship, our story, and our families. We are so excited to gather our loved ones in a place that is so special to us as we commit our lives to each other, and we want them all to leave our wedding being able to say, “That was so Lisa and Dave!” On that note, even though we’re thrilled and excited about the wedding, our other resolution is to make sure that building our relationship doesn’t take a back burner to planning. We still want to go on dates, travel together, explore new places, and have great experiences that help us to get to know each other even better.

Nicole: Taylor and I decided to make resolutions that we could both work on (rather than me making a resolution that benefits him and vice versa). This year, we’re resolving to making dinner plans in advance — including a menu for the night and a grocery shopping plan. Last year, we got into the habit of getting together for dinnertime and then spending an hour debating what to make, if we wanted to spend time making it, or if we should just go out. And if we wanted to go out, where should we go? We’d both end up hungry and frustrated by 8:00 with a pizza on the way. While we’d still like to keep our pizza picnic tradition, we also greatly enjoy our time in the kitchen together and sitting down to a healthy meal. We’d like to gain time back making real conversation and to break some unhealthy dining habits.

Marissa: With a sweet little baby arriving soon after the New Year, one relationship resolution BDK and I have set is planned rest together. With all the holiday busyness and preparing for our daughter (I’m a bit type A), time has become scarce. So, we’re committing to nights in with Netflix and Chinese food on the couch! Creating purposeful time to rest and enjoy each other’s company helps refuel our marriage. I’ve also committed to not making our bed sometimes. Now, this resolution may sound funny, but I tend to make it even before BDK can get out of it! By not making the bed, it’s my physical way of showing BDK my commitment to not taking things quite so seriously :)

Lara: My 2014 relationship resolution is to plan more “just Ari” time. With a toddler and both of us having busy lives professionally, time for just the two of us is rare. So, in 2014 I resolve to plan date nights well in advance so we know we will always have time for just us. When we are strong together, we are strong for Grace and for everyone in our lives!

Kristin: 2013 was very kind to the Winchesters. After dating long-distance for 6+ years, our first full calendar year of married life included numerous fun little adventures along with getting more settled into our home in VA. We have gotten quite spoiled by regular suppers at the table and quiet nights curled up on the sofa. For 2014, we have two relationships resolutions related to our current location. First, we want to be intentional about spending quality time together AND with other couples. We typically do a pretty good job at together time, but we feel that double-dating and group dating is a way we can spend quality time with people we love and in the process learn a thing or two about relationships from new perspectives. Second, we want to do a better job at exploring our current surroundings. We want to take advantage of the attractions and adventures that the Commonwealth of Virginia offers. I am not typically very ‘outdoorsy’, but I am ready to take a hike or two in 2014!

Emily: John is the dinner chef in our family, so my two relationship resolutions for the new year are related to that. First, I want to sit on one of our comfy bar stools while he cooks. I’m usually working on (personal) blog posts or projects during this time, but my new perch will bring us physically closer (instead of me being on the couch across the room) and make conversation easier. Second, I want to wash the dishes every night before going to bed instead of leaving them until the morning — it makes our home a happier place to be.

Ready to make your own? Go for it! Yours could be something concrete, like doing the dishes, or something more general, like cultivating gratitude daily for your husband/fiance. Leave a note in the comments so we can cheer you on! Whatever you choose, know we are proud of you for taking the small step!! Love never fails.

P.S. These ridiculously cute engagement photos are by Cassidy Brooke. See them all in our Facebook Friday album!

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Heath reply

    I love the photos in this – I’m guessing they’ve been shot on film. Just beautiful.

  2. avatar in a week | SOMETHING SOUTHERN reply

    […] was inspired by the Southern Weddings ladies to create relationship resolutions in addition to my personal […]

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Hi, ladies! Some of you long-time readers may remember our friend Katie, from the wonderful and hilarious blog Marriage Confessions (and some of you might just recognize Katie from MC, apart from SW!). Katie drops by to share her funny, smart, and poignant perspective on life after the wedding, and we know you’ll love her as much as we do!

It’s the start of another new year. I don’t know about you, but I have big plans for 2012. Big plans. I’m going to eat better, organize my linen closet, send birthday cards on time, get my oil changed before my husband lectures me about taking care of nice things… Big plans, I tell you. New Year’s resolutions are a great way to take a look at your life, reevaluate, adjust your priorities, set some goals, and move forward.

But aren’t those all things we should do in our marriages, too?

Each year, before we make our own New Year’s resolutions, my husband and I go out for a dinner date that we like to call the “State of Our Union.” During this meal, we set our goals and make our resolutions for our marriage in the upcoming year. It’s a time for us to talk about the past year, remember the good things that happened, reflect on the bad things, and pat ourselves on the back about how far we’ve come. It’s also a time for us to look ahead, too. Much like a business, a marriage needs a plan to be successful. Good marriages just don’t happen. They are the result of two people who have planned, worked hard, and set goals.

State of the Union talks aren’t as daunting as they sound. In fact, by the time our meal is finished, I feel really good about myself, my husband, and our family. If you’re looking to jump start your new year and your marriage, here are some tips for a successful State of the Union dinner:

1. Location, location, location – Be sure that you go out of the house somewhere for this discussion. For one thing, it keeps you from fighting about anything you might disagree on. You have to be polite and cooperative if you’re in public. Mostly though, going out to eat somewhere gives the dinner and conversation a sense of lightheartedness. Get dressed up, get a babysitter (if applicable), put on your favorite dress, wear his favorite perfume. It’s much easier to talk about your family budget if you look great, feel desirable, and are having fun. Also, be sure you pick a location that is conducive to enjoying yourselves and having an intimate conversation. For some, this might be a quiet booth at a sports bar and for others this might be a swanky hotel bar. Chris and I just went out to a quaint sushi restaurant on the beach for ours this year. Candle light on the table made even discussions about difficult subjects seem romantic.

2. Focus on certain topics – State of the Unions given by presidents are clearly organized, focused, and precise. State of the Unions given by married couples should be the same. This isn’t the time to drag every small issue in your marriage out of the closet. (That’s what holidays are for…just kidding…kind of…) This conversation should be focused on the big picture, not the nitty gritty. Topics that should definitely be discussed include:

a. Make a financial plan for the coming year. Include what you each prioritize for the coming year, goals you want to achieve, and a plan for how to reach those goals. If you have a major event coming up in the new year, such as a wedding or the birth of a baby, this is a good time to talk about how you’ll prepare for those things financially.

b. As uncomfortable as it sounds, you need to talk about how happy each of you were in the past year with your marriage. And then – this is equally, if not more important – you need to talk about why you felt that way. This doesn’t have to be an emotional or dramatic conversation, either. If you have trouble starting this part, ask your partner to score on a scale of one to ten how happy they were with your relationship last year. Then, talk about why they gave it that score. When you’ve talked about their view, give your own score and tell why. The point of this discussion isn’t to change each other’s mind or to point blame about anything. The point is to see where you are each starting the new year. You can’t move forward if you don’t know where the starting line is.

c. Set your priorities for the new year together. If one of you is thinking about how perfect the timing would be in the spring for a new baby and the other is thinking about how perfect the timing would be in the spring for a new roof, you’re going to have some issues. Having different priorities isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but those priorities should be out on the table for everyone to see and work towards. So, talk about them. What do you want to accomplish that year together? If there are multiple goals, then what is the order of importance? You have a better success rate for reaching your goals if you are both working towards the same finish line.

d. Talk about mistakes you made in your relationship last year and how you can avoid them in the new year. We learn the best from mistakes – and, trust me, we all make mistakes in our relationships. But if we never pause to learn from those mistakes, then our relationships won’t grow. Maybe you’ve had a reoccurring fight that kept coming up in the past year, maybe you made a particularly bad decision about your marriage, or maybe you just had an overall trying year in your relationship… now is the time to talk about the causes of those issues and how you can both work better to solve those issues. This isn’t about rehashing the past, but more about recognizing weaknesses in your relationship so that you can strengthen them together. If you can’t have this discussion without fighting, then save this for its own conversation at a different time. State of the Unions should stay on topic and be polite and civil in order to be the most productive. While this topic is healthy to discuss and is an important part of moving forward, if it’s going to stop your conversation flow, then avoid it during your State of the Union dinner and focus on it at a later time.

No matter where you are, what you’re wearing, or what topics you decide to talk about, the overarching rule of State of the Union dinners is to listen. Listen to what your partner says. At our State of the Union dinner with my husband this year, he said that he needed more from me. It was hard to hear and I wanted to immediately snap back with a list of the times that I had needed more from him, too. But this dinner isn’t about pointing fingers or hurting each other’s feelings. It’s about really hearing the needs of your partner and voicing your own needs, and then it’s about making a plan to move forward and meet those needs. So, when my husband said he needed more from me, we spent a little bit talking about exactly what he needed from me. Was it more time? More chores? More effort? Turns out, he just needed more attention from me. He felt like I was giving it all to the kids and he was being left out. I would have never known he felt like that if I hadn’t stopped to really hear him. Now, that’s something that I can focus on changing in the new year.

I think for many married couples, we wait until there is a problem before talking about the state of our relationship, but that is being reactive in your marriage and not proactive. This year, as you kick off 2012 with resolutions of more time at the gym and more organized filing cabinets at work, be sure that you set some good resolutions to help move your marriage forward, too. Knowing the state of your union before the new year begins is the first step towards making this the best year yet!

Love all things Katie? Past columns for Southern Weddings:
Change is the Name of the (Newlywed) Game
My Wedding Registry Changed My Life
Working it Out With the In-Laws
Managing Your Money
Come on Baby, Light My Fire
On Moving

All photos by Oh, Darling! Photography. See more on their blog here!

Oh, Darling! is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Written with love by Sierra
10 Comments
  1. avatar Taylor reply

    We have talked about having the “state of the union” talk at church!! My guy likes to call it our “romancipation proclamation” haha!

  2. avatar desiree reply

    what a great post!!! thanks so much for sharing. soon-to-be brides and grooms, listen up! it’s not all fairytales and flowers all of the time ~ but that’s okay! My favorite resolution quote is this, “If the grass looks greener on the other side, water your own lawn!!” :)

  3. avatar Candice reply

    Wow, great post. Sounds absolutely terrifying to try but a great way to anticipate and solve issues. I like the idea that this is proactive, not reactive.

  4. avatar Rachel @ The Ongoing Planner reply

    What a great idea! We are very proactive about our conversations, but sounds like a great excuse for a date night :) It is definitely important to remember to listen to each other!

  5. avatar Jen reply

    This is an awesome post! I had been thinking about discussing resolutions with The Hubs this year and this is the perfect format for us to do it with. I’m going to share this with my friends because I think it sounds like something that would be extremely beneficial for all couples!

    Thanks so much for putting this together with such detail! :-)

  6. avatar Sharlee reply

    Great ideas, Katie! I love this! I just told my husband I’d like to start doing this. It sounds like a good way to start the new year. I agree that setting goals/achieving them together helps you to grow together as a couple.

  7. avatar JenniferLO reply

    What a great post! Something every married (or soon to be married) couple should read!

  8. avatar Nikki reply

    Great idea, Katie! I can’t wait to bring this up to the Hubs and get to work setting up a “State of Our Union” dinner soon! My goal is to not become defensive and really listen to my Husband’s needs. Thanks again!

  9. avatar Meghan reply

    Love, love, love this post! Hubs and I try to have this conversation every once in a while, but it’s usually at home and we end up getting distracted and/or nitpicking about other things. I’m right there with you on feeling the urge to just snap back sometimes :) I really appreciate the advice and look forward to planning something like this with my hubby.

  10. avatar Katherine reply

    This is a great post! It makes me feel excited to talk through things with my S.O. a little differently than we might have in the past! Plus date nights are always great :) Thanks Katie!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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