Rituals of Connection
Based on the research of John M. Gottman, Ph.D.
William Doherty’s book The Intentional Family
Creating the relationship and family that you desire takes awareness, intention and effort. Without care, your connection will slip away. Rituals are acts that you repeat on a regular basis. Rituals are habits that are chosen, created and practiced. The rituals below are designed to build connection. Some are daily rituals, some are for special occasions.
As you and your spouse decide what rituals to create in your relationship, begin by discussing what these practices were like in the family you grew up in. If they produced positive experiences and connection, you may want to recreate what you experienced in your family. If they created negative experiences, decide how you want to do them differently.
Morning Rituals: Think together about how mornings can be times of connection when everyone is sent off with positive wishes and a good spirit.
Leave Taking: When you leave, be sure you know at least one thing that is going to happen in your partner’s life that day.
Reunions: When coming back home give an affectionate greeting—a loving kiss that lasts several seconds (not a peck on the cheek).
The reunion stress-reducing conversation: Each person gets to talk abut what was stressful that day (not about the relationship), and to receive support.
Mealtimes: Come together at meals and share the events of the day. Each person gets a chance to talk. Make meals an environment of peace, affection, support, and attention. Avoid conflicts during dinner.
Gratitude: Each evening have family members say what they are grateful for. Keep a shared gratitude journal
After meal (or after kid bedtime) coffee or tea: Create a tradition of peace and connection at the end of the day.
Use the Daily Temperature Reading
Bedtimes: Going to bed is a time when there can be cuddling, physical affection, letting go of tension and irritability. Share a real kiss before going to sleep.
Dates and getaways: Couples need time with each other, without the children. We recommend a weekly date and a weekend getaway 3 times a year.
When one person is sick: Talk to each other ahead of time about what feels good when you are sick.
Celebrations of a triumph: Build a culture of celebration and praise Have a seat of honor, a special plate or special meals to celebrate.
Celebrating your relationship: Celebrate anniversaries. Retell to each other, to children or to friends, the story of your meeting.
Rituals surrounding entertaining: The idea of bringing friends home can lead to important rituals of connection for a couple and for children.
Rituals surrounding initiating and refusing lovemaking and talking about lovemaking: These are very important events that often get left for the very end of the day when everyone is exhausted and has little left for tenderness, or for facing potential rejection. Couples tend to hold an ideal that these events should be “spontaneous,” but remember when you were dating, romantic times were planned and anticipated with excitement. Plan and/or set the stage for lovemaking. Learn to say “no” in ways that deepen your connection rather than damage it.
Vacations: Plan vacations together as a family. Create excitement and connection before, during and after the vacation.