1/15/2014 9:57:00 AM Reader needs help keeping resolutions
DEAR HARRIETTE: Every year I make a list of resolutions that I intend to work on for the next 12 months. I think I'm like most people in that thus far I have not been able to complete any of these lists. This year I was almost afraid to make a list because I don't want to feel like a failure. I want to give myself a focus. How do you recommend that I set myself up so that I can win when it comes to setting a resolution and achieving it? -- Ready to Go, Syracuse, N.Y.
DEAR READY TO GO: Often, people's resolutions don't work because they are either too unwieldy or too vague. Start by thinking about your life and what you feel is your most pressing priority. Now focus in on that and break it down into manageable chunks. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds or go back to school or save money, what are some steps you can take to get there? Identify short-term goals and longer-term goals. Write them down on a timeline. By creating benchmarks, you organize yourself for success. Put your timeline on a physical calendar that you look at daily.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I have been arguing nonstop for months. We tried counseling for a while, but it didn't seem to do any good for us. I realize that if we can't figure out a way to communicate better with each other, we are destined to be miserable forever or split. What's worse is that we have two young children who have taken to arguing a lot with each other and with us. We are a horrible example for them. But I don't know how to break the cycle. Everything seems to set my husband and me off. We just don't seem to like each other much these days. Still, I don't want to get a divorce. I just want the arguing to end. Ideas? -- Caught Up, Salt Lake City
DEAR CAUGHT UP: You may want to consider going back to the therapist or finding another one that you both feel more comfortable working with. If you belong to a spiritual community, consider marital counseling through that vehicle. The point is for you to get professional support to help the two of you learn how to deal with your issues in a way that is less hostile.
Right now, you can schedule a time to talk with your husband. Make an appointment that you both agree to honor. Tell your husband how you feel about your marriage these days. Describe your frustration with the perpetual arguing, and tell him that you want to be better for each other and for your children. Ask him if he is willing to try again to get support to work on your challenges. Ask him if he is willing to make the effort with you to be more thoughtful to each other. Pledge to do your best to be kinder to him. Whenever you notice that you are being harsh, stop yourself. You can even say to your husband that you realize you fell into an old pattern. Learn to laugh when you notice yourself going down the wrong path. This can help you both restart without feeling angry or guilty.