When you think back to some of your best memories what comes to mind? Summers at the beach with family? Nightly dinners with your young children? The Friday wine nights you had at the beginning of your marriage?
Now what about the worst memories? You probably also can bring forth some memories of rituals that did not go so well. The time your uncle ruined Christmas dinner or when dad never showed up to Taco Tuesday.
Rituals are important because they help us to rely on what is to come. We know that after middle school is high school. We know after senior year we graduate. This predictability creates a road map.
Our partnerships and marriages need road maps too. We need to know when, where, and how we will connect. In small ways – kissing before we leave for work, picking each other up from the train station, grabbing a bottle of wine every Friday – and in the bigger ways – yearly vacations, celebrations, and the ways in which we celebrate holidays.
When I work with couples that cannot put their finger on WHY they are dissatisfied in their relationship, I often find that it is because they have lost or never truly developed ritualized ways on connecting with each other. This creates a feeling of unreliability in the relationship.
I see improvement when my couples put the work into creating and maintaining relationships. It becomes a part of their “we-ness”. Something they can rely on.
Developing and maintaining a ritual is not always easy. Part planned and part organic, couples need to stay committed to their development. I am hopeful that the tips below will support you developing at least 1 more ritual in your relationship.
How to Create Rituals of Connection
- Carve out time to talk about some rituals you wish you had.
- Choose one – too many at once is usually not sustainable.
- Define how it will start, what it will be like during, and how it will. All rituals have those two components. Failing rituals are usually missing one of those.
- Make a promise that the ritual will be a stress free time. This means that you will use the time to connect and be with each other, rather than correct, argue, or bring up “hot button” issues.
If you are struggling to connect, creating more reliable rituals can help. If you find that you struggle to do this on your own, I would be honored to help you in developing the relationship you desire.
Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT is a licensed marriage therapist in Philadelphia. Elizabeth supports individuals and couples improve the relationship they have with themselves and others through better communication, self soothing, and a clear understanding of what a successful marriage looks like. She believes that any committed couples who is willing to do the work can walk away from therapy with more clarity and connection in their relationship.