Rituals Of Connection
Most people don’t get married with the thought that they will ever end up divorced. However, the vast majority of people are never taught how to nurture and care for a marriage either. No wonder we have so many divorces and broken families in our society.
One of the ways that we can prevent the slide toward divorce is to develop our own rituals of connection. According to Bill Doherty in his book The Intentional Family, “Rituals of Connection is a method of ‘turning towards’ another person that is reliable and can be counted on.” These thought-out rituals can vastly improve our chances for success in our most important relationships.
Rituals of Connection can be mundane activities or can be intimacy rituals also known as “habits with heart” and even the smallest habit you establish can have special significance.
Here are some suggestions for deepening both connection and intimacy in your romantic relationship.
1. The six-second kiss.
According to Dr. Gottman, one of society’s most prominent marriage and relationship experts, a daily six-second kiss will help to increase your emotional and physical intimacy. At least six seconds is recommended because it is long enough to feel romantic and also make a real connection. The physical contact of a six-second kiss releases oxytocin (the bonding hormone) and can not only improve our mood but help us to stay calm, according to author Dr. Kory Floyd.
2. 20-second hug.
Like the six-second kiss, hugging your partner for at least 20 seconds also releases oxytocin which acts as a natural anti-depressant. Feeling your partner’s heartbeat helps your stay close to them and improves your happiness. Any kind of positive physical touch like holding hands, touching, and making out can reduce your stress hormones (cortisol) and increase your relationship satisfaction.
3. Turn off screens
Practice eating a meal together without the tv on, or without cell phones turned on. Even cell phones placed on the dinner table can reduce the connection between partners according to studies. Going to bed at the same time, turning off phones, and spending time connecting relationally encourage intimacy. Couples who spend more time together on the phone report more conflict, less physical intimacy, and less connection. Don’t let emails and social media compromise your relationship.
4. Plan regular date nights.
Date nights can be scheduled or spontaneous, but they need to be intentional. One of the most common mistakes in a relationship can be to stop dating each other. Dates can be dressing up and going out, or staying cuddled up on the couch watching a romantic movie. The content of the date isn’t the most important aspect, it’s about making intentional connection a priority.
Whether you adopt these rituals or make up your own, six hours a week is the magic number according to Dr. Gottman. This includes the rituals you practice in the morning when you leave, to the rituals for reuniting at the end of the day. Remembering your unique rituals and putting them into practice regularly will help to inoculate your relationship from boredom and apathy. Regular intentional rituals will help you reconnect when life tries to get in the way.