RITUALS OF LOVE
Karen Gless, Ph.D.
In my therapy practice I work to help couples move from conflict to greater intimacy. Developing rituals is one of those activities that helps couples get closer. In the following article the names and circumstances have been changed to conceal patients’ identities.
Spring is on its way and I can’t think of a better time to spruce up your love nest with important love rituals, especially if you don’t already have love rituals between the two of you. So what are these love rituals anyway? They are a way of celebrating the special and everyday events in your relationship and the importance of your love for each other in your lives. Most couples have some special activities on Valentines Day, but just having coffee and a sweet roll together in the morning can be a ritual.
Rituals are very important in our lives. Couples bond through shared ritual, creating memories that remind us of our connection and love for each other. Anniversary of the first date, first year, holiday activities that are made special, these days are filled with rituals, but a couple that wants a happy, strong relationship needs to make room in each day for love rituals.
FINDING YOUR RITUALS
What are some of these love rituals? How you greet one another after you have been away from each other, such as a kiss and a hug, or how you say goodby when you are leaving for the day. Also, how you celebrate such things as birthdays, anniversaries or other meaningful events like a pay raise or a promotion and how you expect to spend any of your holidays together. They are things like eating supper together or going running together. These all are love rituals that we have with each other.
With a ritual in place we often automatically do the activity without being fully aware of the real significance it has in our lives but it enriches our lives on a deeper level. Often when couples come together they have each grown up with different family rituals or, in these busy times, their families had few rituals. As a couple it can be very useful to make a ritual of those things that help you connect more deeply with each other.
REVIEWING THE DAY
One valuable ritual is called The Review of the Day ritual. When do the two of you discuss each other’s plans for the day? When do you talk about what transpired that day? How well do you keep up to date with each other. How much do you know about your partner’s everyday life? The more you know the more you understand and the better you will do in keeping your love alive.
This is a ritual that allows you to connect to each other or as I like to call it being able to “walk in each other’s shoes.” It is a really good idea to ritualize this activity by specifically setting aside time each day to go over each other’s schedule, discuss the activities of that day and debrief with each other at the end of the day. I especially like the review at the end of the day ritual because it allows time for more intense contact and a sharing of feelings instead of a simple exchange of events that may have occurred during the day.
CELEBRATING YOUR LOVE
Set aside time to get together at the end of the day, share something to eat or drink and tell each other what has happened. Really listen to each other and be interested in what happened and how your partner felt as all this was happening. This is a chance to remove the stress of the day and make the transition to being together. After a while it becomes addictive and the two of you will look forward to that special time together. Then it is a real love ritual.
Once you get the hang of it, you will find all sorts of opportunities for love rituals. One couple I know pays the bills together each month and then has a glass of wine to celebrate. Another couple has a ritual for getting ready to go exercising by slapping hands and saying, “Let’s go,” as they head out the door. Create your own love rituals and you will be very pleased at the way they contribute to the strength and happiness in your relationship.