Rituals of Connection are core to a positive and happy relationship. They create shared meaning in the relationship. If you have shared meaning in the relationship, then there is a good chance the relationship is stable and happy. If you don’t, then you might be asking yourself, ‘Is that all there is?’ Sure, date nights, weekend getaways and making love are all part of a relationship. But, people also want to connect at a deeper level. How is your spiritual connection? Do you feel you are creating an inner life together? This is a culture in the relationship, where symbols, rituals and an appreciation for your roles and goals, which also link you together. When you feel this connection, you will understand what if feels like to be part of the union you have joined.
One of the best ways to create shared meaning is to talk about your dreams with your partner. However, big or small they might be. You don’t have to agree with your partner’s dreams but you need to be respectful and supportive of one another’s dreams. Another way to create shared meaning is to create traditions and rituals. Start by talking about the traditions and rituals that you had growing up. Tell your partner you best and worst memories. How could you make them better? What are these rituals like for you today? Do you still celebrate them? What do they mean to you? Would you still like to celebrate them? If so, then how? Share your past experiences with your partner, even if they seem small. Share all the details. Here are some examples to create more shared meaning in your relationship:
- Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and/or coffee together.
- Hosting others at home.
- Athletics, working out together. (Going for a walk together is working out.)
- Taking care of each other when sick.
- Renewing your spirit.
- Going to concerts, plays and cultural events.
- Apologizing or repairing feelings after an argument.
- Going dancing.
- Doing charity work.
- Religious services, festivals and holidays.
- Going out to the movies.
- Watching television together.
- Recreation, games and play.
- Taking vacations, getaways and travel.
- Making art.
- Making love.
- Celebrations (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.).
- Leaving one another.
- Waking up, waking one another up.
There you go, it’s not that difficult. Play around with this list and add your own. Couples that create shared meaning in their relationship not only are happier, but they are more likely to stay together. Think of your relationship like an emotional bank account. Like any bank account, if you want it to grow, then you need to make deposits. We find the small deposits add up in a big way.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist dedicated to helping couples. She has spent the last five years learning and applying The Gottman Method for Couples in her practice. For more help, please call Lianne at (650) 892-0357.