The Power of Ritual
It's not about religion...
Posted Oct 19, 2017
Linda: Rituals are actions that support the deepening of our spiritual and emotional connections. They bring extra brightness and fulfillment into our lives. Rituals are included in most, if not all, ceremonies involving life transitions, such as weddings, holiday festivities, birthday parties and funerals. They are, of course, integral parts of all religious services. In addition to these traditional ones, every couple has the opportunity to create practices that can be personalized to the uniqueness of their own relationship. Couples can design those that bring connection, sweetness, and vitality into their partnership. Some couples pray together silently or aloud. Others sing, dance, or play instruments. Rituals can take many forms.
Here are some examples of rituals that I have heard from some happy couples I know:
Joseph and Robyn have a tradition they have been practicing for years. Whenever one of them comes home, they call out ”honey I’m home” and the person who is already in the house enthusiastically yells back, “Hooray!”
Barry and Joyce raise golden retrievers and they walk their dogs through the rolling hills surrounding their home. On their daily walks, they always stop for a short break on the path to linger in an embrace while touching their foreheads together.
Paul and Jeanette are spiritually oriented and have a tradition of spending at least an hour together each morning reading inspirational material drawn from various traditions. They discuss each passage and share what touches each of them.
The first words that Heather and Scott hear each and every day when they awaken is, “good morning my love.”
Gregg and Kira are devoted yoga practitioners who start each day with an hour of home practice. They lay side by side on their respective mats, each doing their own postures. At the end of the hour, they reach toward each and embrace.
Collette and Jason have been saying grace before dinner for years when they noticed that they hadn’t included anything personal about their marriage. Collette decided that while she was cooking and serving food, she would think of what she appreciated about Jason to add to their prayer before sharing their evening meal. Jason decided to join her in a practice of mutual appreciation and gratitude.
Betsy and Daniel report that at any point during the day that they are experiencing feelings of fondness and appreciation one of them will say, “Have I told you that I love you yet today?” And at night when they go to bed, they say “Good night my love," which is accompanied by a good night kiss.
Joel and Mira have a morning ritual whereupon awakening they brush their teeth and get right back in bed for what they call cuddling meditation, caressing, skin to skin, sometimes talking, sometimes quiet, and sometimes planning their day. They end with a full body press, nose to nose, chest to chest, belly to belly, and then start their day with a full soul tank.
Burt is a hairy guy. Vera regularly trims his bushy eyebrows, the hairs that hang out of his nostrils and those stray ones growing out of his ears. Their rituals include good-natured teasing calling him names like wolf-man, concluding with kisses to the now well-shaped eyebrows, and his now more attractive nose and ears.
Anna is a hairdresser and often experiences aching feet at the end of her workday. David massages her feet for a full fifteen minutes. David has a desk job, and his feet aren’t sore, but in the spirit of reciprocity, Anna massages his feet too.
Gretchen and Thomas are film buffs, and on most evenings enjoy watching movies in bed. They sometimes feed each other popcorn and always hold hands like giggling teenagers.
Guthrie and Betty have a daily practice. When a moment of appreciation for the other occurs, one of them goes to the other to take their hand and place a kiss their to show their affection. They are versatile about where they place the kiss, sometimes on the back of the hand, sometimes on the palm, the wrist or the fingertips.
The ways we greet each other when we awaken, the kiss and hug before going to work and upon re-entry when returning home after the work-day, the rituals of joining in the preparation of meals dining together, and the ritual of sharing in cleaning up, are all essential aspects of a fulfilling partnership.
Savoring these moments can intensify the enjoyment of the mundane tasks of life. There is a contentment and peace that accompanies these rituals that characterize our life together if we’re intentional about co-creating them. Noticing the sharing of the activities can strengthen our attitude of appreciation for having a partner to enjoy such tender moments.
Each and every day can become a fiesta, a festival, and a celebration of love. Rather than simply going through the motions of life, integrating rituals into our lives brings vivid color. When we appreciate the blessing of sharing life with another, gratitude is the feeling with which we are inevitably left. We live in a state of heightened awareness, humbled by the abundance that has come our way.
If you stop to think about it, you may find that you already have established some rituals. Noting what they are, you can assess whether you are practicing them frequently enough to derive maximum value. Perhaps you would like to increase the frequency of those you already have. Perhaps you would like to add new ones. Wise couples frequently tell me how it’s the little things that bring them so much joy. Can you make room for more joy?