We live in a quick-fix society. Everything is easy, cheap and disposable. Somehow we’re trained to think about what we get OUT of things, rather than what we can build into them to make them better.
Sometimes marriage can seem complicated. Daily rituals are the little things that can combat the rough areas and make a difference in the day-to-day-living of a couple. They are easy and are sure to really boost your marital happiness.
We’re not talking about one-off try-this-when-you-get-home-today ideas, but things that you can weave into the daily fabric of your marriage. Be intentional about building daily rituals into your marriage and families to make them bastions of love and security. Make your marriage a safe harbor to return to daily!
First, let’s look at the “why”, and then we’ll give some suggestions for the “how”.
Why are Rituals Even Necessary?
Rituals in marriages and families have two parts: (1) behavior and (2) its meaning or symbolism. There is a very practical component (the habit, or behavior) and a symbolic component (meaning) that makeup part of your couple-identity.
We all have routines, but rituals are different – they have meaning. The meaning may never be stated or agreed on, but the meaning is still there. Other times it might be something explicitly discussed and agreed to.
A brief, personal example here: one of our daily rituals is that at night, we hold each other in bed. Almost always in the same position…It’s not sexual…We don’t sleep like this because we’d overheat…But it’s several minutes long and we pray together. That’s the behavior. The meaning of this is it’s one of our moments when we feel most together, it brings joy, and it’s a way that we ground ourselves after a crazy day because yes, even though we help other marriages, ours is not perfect! But this ritual just reassures us that no matter has happened, is going on, or is going to happen…we are together!
Some of the benefits of marriage rituals were identified in an article from the Journal of Family Psychology as follows:
- Identity – they help define who you are as a couple
- Provides a sense of lovability
- Increases cohesion
- Provides stability during times of stress or transition
- Provides a sense of belonging, closeness and group membership
- Overall booster for psychological health and functioning.
Another study showed that families who were more invested in rituals experienced more positive relationship quality and closeness.
But sadly, in some marriages rituals are absent. Haugland & Storm (2005) found that there was a drastic increase in unpredictability when couples or families stopped practicing routines and rituals. The family cohesion was weakened (the sense of togetherness decreased) which led to the family not feeling as safe.
Maybe it’s the word ritual that makes it sound airy-fairy, but these meaningful habits actually have a huge impact on the happiness and satisfaction of your marriage.
How Can I Add Rituals to my Marriage?
You probably have some of your own daily rituals of connection, and that is awesome! Acknowledge those and then take it up a notch – add a few more to the routine. Here are ten ideas of Rituals of Daily Connection:
- Morning hug or cuddle – start the day off well! Even if you get up at different times, or one leaves for work super early, make sure you connect, even briefly before you go your separate ways for the day.
- Touch Base around lunch – Whether it’s a text or a phone call, take the time to be in touch with your spouse and let them know you’re thinking about them.
- 5 for 5 – Spend the first five minutes at home within 5 feet of your spouse. It just gives those few moments of reconnection and lets your spouse know they’re the most important thing to you in your day.
- Coffee or Tea together – Pardon the personal reference, but this is one of the favorite times of my day; Caleb and I have breakfast and coffee after the girls get on the school bus. Whenever one of us has plans and it doesn’t happen, I really miss my husband. Sometimes, in the evening, we’ll make a coffee and sit and chat at the table after the dishes are done – we know some parents that have to do this in their room with the door locked to get that one-on-one time. Whatever works! J
- Walk or work-out together – I love going for walks with Caleb. Not so much working out, I prefer to do that on my own. But I know other couples that love that bond that comes with exercising together. Whichever you do, make sure you’re keeping your body’s healthy!
- Hold Hands in the car, on the couch, whenever you have – Touch! Seriously, just touch. It doesn’t have to be sexual or even lead to anything, but that physical touch has physiological benefits as well as emotional benefits.
- Go to bed together! This is SO important. I can think of quite a few couples who ended up with major issues in their marriage (affairs, pornography use, etc.) who conducted the illicit behavior after their spouse went to bed. So not only does the time in bed together give you a time of connection, but it also protects against the enemy.
- Six-second hug – Make sure you hug, every day, for at least six seconds. And no, do not count out loud! (Caleb will count every once in a while just to bug me…) Relax into your spouse and feel your spouse relax into you. Let them know, physically, that you’re there for them.
- Dishes together – Remember, what happens in the bedroom starts at the kitchen sink! Not only that but helping your spouse makes them feel supported – that they’re not alone in this relationship.
- Meet & Greet – Always greet or send off one another at the door with a hug and a kiss. It’s so easy with our busy lives to just yell ‘good-bye’ over our shoulders, but stop and take the time to show your spouse you care that they’re leaving or have just arrived home. As a bonus – your kids will pick-up on this too. It is awesome to see our girls run to Caleb for a hug when he comes home from work.
There are so many rituals that you can build into your daily living that can add cohesiveness and connection. It takes a little effort to work them in, but the impact is enormous.
What are your favorite rituals in your marriage?