Amazing how something so little can have such a big impact on marital happiness.
We have a ritual on workdays. My partner JB comes home from work, we open a bottle of wine; we sit out on the deck and talk about our respective days.
This is harder on him than me, as he's an introvert stuck being around people all day, and I'm an extrovert who works alone at home. But every day, no matter how late he walks through the door, we both actively participate in this special part of our day.
Believe me, I know how easily we could just blow off this little ritual. There are plenty of legitimate reasons (e.g. excuses) to do so — anything from being too tired and having other priorities to simply, having a bad day that you don't want to discuss.
As a life coach, I regularly talk with clients about the need for routines in our lives, as they allow us to efficiently use our energy. I also write with regularity about the need for ritual in our lives so that we can reconnect to ourselves, as well as God.
But, just as we need ritual to reconnect with ourselves, when we choose to share a life with someone — whether it’s a spouse, domestic partner, housemate, child or parent — we need rituals that allow us to have a shared intimacy and communion with them, as well.
From my perspective, shared ritual is one of the most inexpensive luxuries we can provide to any of our relationships. With rituals, we give our most valuable assets — our time and attention — to another soul.
The end of the day ritual I share with JB serves to reconnect us after we’ve spent most of the day apart. We feel comforted by the simple physical and focused presence of each other. It creates consistent space for us to communicate and share the important (and the seemingly trivial) happenings of our time apart. The ritual removes us from distractions and the outside world, inviting us back into the safety and sanctity of our shared life.
It's also the daily critical reminder that we're in this life together and that one of the roles in the humanity we share is to serve as a witness to each other.
We humans aren't meant to traverse this world alone; being witnessed is part of the shared human existence. Research shows that humans are hard wired for connection. Personally, I believe that God created us to crave connection because being seen in this human experience is a critical part of feeling value in this life.
We form relationships — love, friendships, families — so that we're able to provide this powerful gift to others, and it's mutual.
One of the universal truths I’ve come to understand is that simply feeling comforted by another soul in this shared existence on this earth is powerful.
Please, forgive me as I climb on my soap box for just a moment: I don’t understand why we choose to share our lives with people — be they friends, lovers or family — yet, day after day we choose our chaotic lives over being present with them.
Well, let me rephrase that. I do understand why we're too busy. Fear. We fear intimacy, being vulnerable, being seen as weak, being seen as imperfect. What I'm struggling with understanding is why our fears are so much more important than love.
When we choose "busy" over people, we're choosing our fear over love.
My challenge to you is to step away from your own busy-ness and create a shared ritual in your own life, if not daily, then at least weekly.
How would it feel to provide the powerful comfort of your attention to another human being on a regular basis? How would it feel to receive that same attention in return?
I know how incredibly vulnerable this may feel. But darling, you and your loved ones are worth it.
This article was originally published at Debra Smouse. Reprinted with permission from the author.