I love the start of a new year. It’s a refreshing opportunity to make changes in my life and explore new and exciting ways of living. And I am not talking about making those lousy New Year’s resolutions that so one keeps. I am talking about leaving bad habits in the past and entering the New Year with an attitude of expectancy—attracting only goodness to your life.

Marriage is often one of the most meaningful aspects of our lives, but it can also be the aspect of our lives where we make the most mistakes. We enter our unions expecting only great things, but life happens, bad habits develop, and we find ourselves wondering how we got to where we are. We look around us and say, this is not what I signed up for.

I think most couples who get to a place where they realize that bad habits have set in also realize they need to make a few changes to shift things in their relationships and get them moving in a better direction. Leaving bad habits behind is never easy, though, but it is necessary. Bad habits have this way of creeping into our space, taking over areas in our lives in a way we never expected. Bad habits keep us from reaching our truly potential as couples, and they can leave us feeling unhappy and unsettled.

Here are a few habits you and your spouse should seriously consider leaving behind in 2014. Doing so will strengthen your marriage and help you prepare for a year that you’ll always remember because it will be known as the year you took your marriage to the next level.

Not sleeping in bed together. Couples benefit from sharing similar bedtimes as well as waking up together. The bad habit usually starts off with someone falling asleep on the couch a few times a week and then snowballs into sleeping apart several times a week. When you go to bed and wake up together it strengthens your partnership and gives you more time to connect. It doesn’t have to happen daily, but it should happen more often if sleeping apart has become your norm.

Poor communication. Having strong communication skills can make or break your marriage. If you don’t communicate well with your spouse, make 2015 the year you finally decide to work on your communication skills in an effort to truly listen to what your spouse has to say, as well as making sure you communicate in a way that encourages our spouse to listen to you.

Living a sexless life. Sexual intimacy is at the core of any healthy marriage. To share a life with someone and neglect to connect with that person on an intimate level is something that will damage your relationship with time. If you know that being intimate has become a rare occurrence or a thing of the past, enter the new year with a strong desire to address the issue and get back to a place where you can enjoy each other in a way married couples should.

Neglecting quality time. I am sure you have seen many of our posts about the importance of date night. Do you know why we share that information with you? Because dates are important! Whether you have kids or not, you have to take the time to connect with one another, have a good time, and strengthen your marriage. If you don’t, the connection you have begins to fade with time.

Neglecting your health. Taking care of yourself and looking out for your spouse’s health is critical. When you neglect your health it can lead to a multitude of physical, mental, and emotional consequences, and the same goes for your spouse. If you both make your health a priority, not only does your marriage benefit, but your entire family does.