Relationships are a daily practice. Love is not born out of one-off showy gestures, but rather the small acts of kindness over time that build up in our hearts and souls. Anything can be considered a ritual, as we’ve mentioned before in a post on simple rituals. Those who were present for the Glue Talk with Diane Israel walked away with a new understanding of creating ritual in their relationship. A number of attendees shared rituals they were already doing, which helped create a focus on what works best for people. One thing that stood out was how rituals bring couples closer together by acknowledging each individual’s uniqueness.
One of my personal favorites was a regular surprise date. A couple takes turns planning and executing a date, so that each person was able to experience the feeling of relinquishing control. Another fun ritual was a sock exchange. The woman didn’t grow up with Christmas stockings, so her partner started giving her gifts hidden in socks. Soon they both got in the habit of regularly gifting each other small surprises that way, and exchanging simple items they needed, such as chapstick. This ritual shows an attunement to the other’s needs. If it gets mentioned in passing that their gloves have holes in them, a new pair of gloves may show up. Another couple shared the daily practice of sitting on their sofa facing each other with their hot morning beverage to download the day.
A Daily Ritual To Slow Down Time
Rituals are about time. They are about slowing down. For Diane, it is taking the time to watch the sunrise or sunset with her partner, or taking the time to honor her mother who recently passed away.
One of our Glue couples, Jeb & Ashley, created a pyramid that shows them the practices they do to ensure connection, and have it hung in their kitchen. The base level of the pyramid houses all of the daily ways they connect, and this level includes time and ritual. Every night they make sure they turn off their technology, put on music, and cook dinner to slow down and connect to the other.
This time that we live in today is fast paced; the speed at which we operate and the number of distractions that bombard our senses can be overwhelming. Whether in a relationship or not, we must make a commitment to protect part of our day as sacred time. We must slow down and enjoy the small things–going for a walk, paying attention to nature, blessing food, reading before bedtime, enjoying a slow cup of coffee or tea in the morning, etc. When you start to add these practices intentionally to your routine, they become sacred and you start to wonder how you lived your life without them.
Another way to slow down is to reflect on your day by expressing and noticing gratitude. The expression of gratitude can be life changing. If you aren’t in a relationship, take the time at the end of your day to simply pay attention to what you are grateful for. In a partnership, it is a beautiful thing to notice the other. This isn’t solely about thanking them for things that they did (e.g. “thank you for making the bed”), but it is powerful to show your partner you notice them as a human being and acknowledge them for how they show up in the world.
Rituals are About Making the Connections
Remember, it is about acknowledging them as an individual with needs of their own, as in the sock example. You can express appreciation for the things they do that don’t involve you, such as saying “I really appreciate the level of professionalism you showed today in the meeting you told me about,” or “I noticed how patient you were in that frustrating situation,” or “I appreciate the way you are following through on that goal of yours that you set”. Showing your partner that you see them and validate them and appreciate them goes a long way towards building a connection. The act of making the time to say those things, daily, can become ritual, as that sharing of thoughts and feelings becomes a regular sacred practice.
Relationships can be challenging, but the more we slow down and connect to our partner in real time, daily, we can use our relationships as gateways to growth and connection to both ourselves and our partners. The relationship itself should be seen as a sacred opportunity for growth and connection. If this word “ritual” does not resonate with you, start paying attention to the little things that matter to you in your relationship: the way your partner holds your eye contact; the way they greet you at the door when you come home at the end of the day; your daily neighborhood walk. Chances are, if you are in a relationship, some form of ritual is already happening. The work is to bring a level of intention to that connection so that your full attention rests there. Life is filled with ritual, if we only take the time to see it.