January is the primary month when many people make plans for large and small alterations in their usual life cycle. Even though it is really just another month like the others, somehow January seems to be a good time to take stock of your life and to strategize for maximum success. One of the areas of life that affects and impacts most of the other areas is the relationship area. Some of the byproducts of unhealthy relationships can include increased levels of stress and weight gain, sleeplessness, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, high blood pressure, attention deficit, and lower productivity/absences at work.

On the other hand, according to Dr. Athena Staik who does research on Neuroscience and relationships, some of the benefits of healthy relationships can include longer life, a more responsive immune system, less likely violence on self or others, and 35% less illness. When children are in the picture, the children of these individuals also reap benefits in that they “have fewer emotional issues, experience fewer problems related to their physical health, perform better academically, are better able to regulate their emotions in conflict, and have more social skills.”

The stark contrast between the results of healthy and unhealthy relationships is a good reason to make some changes in the coming weeks and months. In the book, Lists to Live By for Every Married Couple, Alice Gray, Steve Stephens and John Van Diest list Seven Resolutions for Your Marriage: 1. Never purposely hurt each other. (Intentional hurt creates a sense of malice which takes a toll on your relationship over time). 2. Let go of past hurts. (Bad things can happen in any relationship and time plus forgiveness can alleviate pain but not if you insist in holding on to the hurt). 3. Apologize when needed. (Someone once said that love means never having to say you’re sorry. But that person was obviously never in an authentic relationship). 4. Support each other in public. (A united front of respect and honor in public can help to create a stronger bond of togetherness in private). 5. Praise each other to family and friends. (This is similar to the previous suggestion and helps develop a sense of appreciation for each other in the presence of those who mean the most to you). 6. Look your best for each other. (Don’t put your best foot forward to strangers and associates and look just any kind of way to your mate). 7. Never use the word divorce. (My wife and I have instituted this policy in our household in conversation with each other and now our three sons are now programmed to do the same).

Perhaps your desires for the new year may be different and that is fine, but just be sure to set a goal and work toward it because a good relationship is a terrible thing to waste.