Every couple and each marriage are unique. But having worked with and spoken to as many married couples as we have over the years, it is clear that the ones who are at their absolute happiest together — the ones who are continually putting good things into their marriage — share a lot of striking similarities and rituals of connection that ultimately help them feel safe and connected.
Display a healthy amount of fondness and admiration for one another.
Are in love and look for ways to have fun together.
They have more heart talk than work talk.
Meeting each other’s emotional needs is paramount to everything they do.
Show appreciation and gratitude for one another.
Work hard to show each other respect. And …
They treasure and serve one another.
As we wrap up our four-part blog series on putting good things into your marriage (you can read our other three blogs and many more here), we want to talk more about Rituals of Connection and how they put a pretty bow on everything we’ve been talking about for the past month. After all, happy couples succeed in all the areas mentioned above because they are intentional with their time together.
What Rituals of Connection do you hold most dear?
When you first get together with your spouse, you spend a lot of time together and are REALLY good at putting good things into your marriage. You talk about everything, sacrifice time to be with each other, have fun, add in a little romance, and even a little passion. Then, time, careers, houses, kids, and other “busy” issues take root. While these are all important responsibilities and hardly avoidable, they tend to take our focus away from each other. Couples need strong boundaries to protect their relationship, and that’s where Rituals of Connection come into play.
Rituals of Connection are intentional times that partners spend together willingly, and they happen so ritualistically that we can predict when we can count on them from our spouse. The Gottman Institute has a great blog post with 5 rituals to reconnect in your relationship. We urge you to read it. They’ve also talked about several more in other exercises.
A few examples of what we mean by Rituals of Connection:
- Don’t leave home without knowing at least one thing that is going to happen in your partner’s life that day.
- Eat dinner together.
- Share a six-second kiss.
- Have stress-reducing conversations.
- Go to bed at the same time, and don’t go to sleep without a kiss.
- Make time for a weekly date night.
- Go on regular vacations or weekend getaways.
- Always make a big deal of birthdays, anniversaries, job promotions, etc.
Relationships are fair and balanced when each spouse GIVES to each other!
As couples, we need to talk with each other about what Rituals of Connection are most important to us as individuals and couples, and then be open to integrating them into our relationships and lives so that we can always count on them happening. This is what’s called a “bid” for connection. Essentially, each spouse is trying to engage in some type of communication that will result in a positive response from the other person. A positive response is when we “turn toward” our spouse and affirm their desires. An example of turning toward would be:
Husband: (looking out the window) Wow! The neighbors just got back from a weekend trip to Mexico. We should do that.
Wife: “That is a very cool idea, but our work schedules are so hectic right now. Can we figure out how to make it happen?
As couples, we need to practice recognizing our spouse’s bid for connection, respecting how important that bid is to them, and then find a way to make it happen.
Remember, it’s not always about what you want. It’s about what your spouse wants, too.
In every relationship, we are entitled to take something for ourselves and are obligated to give something back to the other person. This give and take should be balanced. As Terry Hargrave said in “Forgiving the Devil,” when we have this type of balance between giving what the relationship requires and receiving that to which we are entitled, then the sense of fairness is satisfied. We trust our spouse, and they trust us.
All we are saying here is that marriage and love take work. We must put forth the effort, and we must find ways to have more Rituals of Connection. We should be invested in every opportunity to help our marriage grow, and that includes putting good things into your marriage.
Our heart is devoted to caring about people and marriages!
Our heart is devoted to caring about people. We want to ensure you have the tools to cherish each other’s heart and listen to it when it’s talking to you. The best way we know how to do that is by spreading the word to more people and let them know that we are here.
What do you think? What are some ways you are adding positivity to your marriage? How has that benefitted your marriage? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going. mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com.