Routines can be very useful in keeping our lives purposeful and organised. Rituals are like routines with one important difference — they have positive emotional meaning.

Rituals connect us with others by providing a focus or activity that enables us to interact together in an enjoyable and meaningful way. Almost anything can become a ritual when we make the relationship the focus. For example, some couples check in with each other by phone during the day. It only becomes a ritual, though, if it is used as a connection time rather than just an exercise in exchanging information.

Essential Couple Rituals

Just like our essential daily vitamins, a number of simple rituals can keep our marriages healthy and vibrant:

  • All couples need a Daily Connect Ritual — a time and space when we can reconnect with each other. A married couple with children is unlikely to have time for uninterrupted personal talk unless it is ritualised. It helps to have a regular gesture calibrated to some event or a set time (e.g. as soon as the kids are in bed) that signals the ritual has begun. To maintain meaning, your conversation should be personal and intimate. Avoid logistics and problem-solving: the goal is to connect at a personal level. Also, resist conflict items — this makes the ritual hard work and one or both of you are likely to start avoiding it. Finally, agree on an exit point (e.g. after fifteen minutes), as open-ended rituals are hard to sustain.
  • Rituals that say “I love you” are also important. Some couples write regular, even daily, love letters to each other. One husband will randomly buy a rose and put it somewhere in the house for his wife to unexpectedly discover. Another leaves post-it notes in surprise places like the teapot or in her handbag.
  • The Annual Review Ritual is another valuable practice. Some couples ritualise New Year’s Eve or their wedding anniversary to connect with each other by reminiscing on the past year. If they also use the occasion to make plans for their relationship over the coming year, they will ensure that they stay connected.

Keep Rituals Alive

Like most things in life, our couple rituals decline with time unless we actively choose to make them part of our life. Apathy and indifference are the enemies of rituals, eroding them as a river wears at the shoreline. On the other hand, commitment to our rituals provides the glue we need to stick together during times of stress and seasons of despair.

Reflect: What are some of the couple rituals you have? What aspects make them meaningful and significant to you? How can you modify your ritual to make it more effective?


Originally published at SmartLoving. Photo by Ron Lach.

Published On: September 30th, 20220 CommentsTags: , , , , ,

About the Author: Byron and Francine Pirola

Married for 25 years, with 5 children, Byron & Francine Pirola are the founders and co-authors of the SmartLoving Series – marriage enrichment and marriage preparation courses designed to help build successful and resilient marriages. International speakers and authors of numerous articles on marriage, more than 3000 couples have attended their programs, workshops and conferences in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain Byron & Francine are Executive Directors of the Marriage Resource Centre from which they run SmartLoving programs and produce digital resources. Francine graduated from Fordham University with a Masters in Religion and Religious Education. Byron is a founding partner of the strategic consulting firm, Port Jackson Partners Limited, and a Director of both listed and unlisted companies. He holds a PhD from the Commonwealth Centre for Gene Technology, Adelaide University.

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