Traditions, Celebrations, Rituals, & Dates

Is that quick goodbye kiss before you part ways in the morning really critical to the success of your marriage?

It might seem small and inconsequential, but in the context of relationship rituals, it can actually be quite meaningful. Much research has shown that rituals have an overwhelmingly positive effect on marriage. They create and nurture connection, shared meaning, and a sense of stability in your bond. They act as constant relational touch points that help you stay tethered to each other and your unique identity as a couple – in the midst of your busy lives.

Chances are, you already have some rituals in your marriage which have formed naturally. While you might not have put much thought into creating them, a bit of intention and awareness won’t hurt when it comes to sustaining them over time. Here are 6 types of rituals to maintain (or create) in your marriage:

1. The goodbye/reunion ritual

Yes, that goodbye kiss is important! Whether it’s that and “I love you’s” as you see each other off in the morning or a 10-second bear hug when you reunite after a long day, this type of ritual bookends your time apart with some feel-good endorphins. It promotes a sense of connection as you separate for the day, and re-establishes that bond as you reunite, starting your evening off on the right foot. Sometimes it’s just the ‘morning question’ and the ‘afternoon question’

  • Morning: Is there anything I can do for you today?
  • Evening: What made you smile today?

2. The celebration ritual

Birthdays, anniversaries, life milestones, job promotions, beating the odds – there will be many opportunities for celebration over the course of your marriage. Making that same special meal or treat, booking that favorite restaurant, filling the house with balloons, or putting on THAT song which kicks off a kitchen dance party – there’s no right or wrong. Whatever form they take, creating and carrying out rituals to mark celebrations becomes a constant thread that marks some of your happiest moments. Once established, these can signify the specialness of an event, help you recall happy memories, and even become part of a family tradition that gets passed on through the years. Our favorite is taking turns planning our wedding anniversaries. Super fun. We do our best to outdo each other year over year.

3. The holiday ritual

One of the complex, yet rewarding parts of coming together as a married couple is figuring out what your holidays will look like. You both probably grew up with different traditions and ways of celebrating. Combining those – or creating new rituals altogether – is a great way to embrace your own identity as a couple. Sure, you might adopt some of the traditions of one or both of your families, but don’t be afraid to try new things or add your own unique spin to them. If you have children, this is also important in establishing a sense of family identity as well. Like us, as a blended family, we do holidays on days other than the ones on the calendar so spouses are not pouting about not seeing their parents. So, Thanksgiving on Saturday, or Christmas the week before. Nobody is unhappy when they come to Grammy and Pop’s house. Great stuff

4. The daily ritual

These might be mistaken for the mundane parts of marriage, but don’t be fooled. They can actually be the glue that connects all the exciting ups and downs to the ho-hum parts of life as a married couple. Think of things like your perfectly coordinated execution of prepping coffee or hot tea in the morning and then sitting down to enjoy it together, settling into the couch for a few quiet minutes of cuddling after the kids are in bed, or brushing your teeth together every night before crawling into bed for pillow talk. While they don’t seem exciting, they shape your day-to-day relationship through comforting moments that you can count on all the time.

5. The dating ritual

This might sound rather specific, but it can actually encompass all kinds of things related to dating and romance with your spouse. It could simply be having a weekly date night, or it could be what you do to get ready for your date, what you do on the date, or after it. It might be going to a certain place for a certain occasion, or even a ritual you have to indicate to each other you want to go on a date. Continuing to date each other all throughout your marriage is important, and having rituals tied to it can help make that time spent together feel special.

6. The silly ritual

Nicknames that no one else knows about, an over-the-top secret handshake when your favorite sports teams get a win, a nonsensical phrase that originated from an inside joke years ago that means “I love you.” These are all examples of some lighthearted, yet meaningful rituals you might share in your marriage. Often they are started without intention, but the bond and “we”-ness” they cultivate is priceless. These are the types of rituals that only come with a sense of friendship, longevity, and knowing each other well; you can’t fake them. They highlight the uniqueness of your relationship, strengthen your bond, and show affection. I call my girl, ‘my bride’ even though we’ve been married more than 35 years. In public I always call her The Gorgeous Redhead...and when she shows up somewhere folks don’t know her, it’s not uncommon for someone to say, “Oh, so you’re The Gorgeous Redhead!”

What kinds of rituals do you have in your own marriage?s Are there things you didn’t even think of as rituals, things you do to make sure you keep up, or new ones you’d like to create? How do you think they benefit your relationship?