Maintaining dating rituals

There is a common saying that couples should still date each other. This is the idea that despite being in a relationship you should still treat your partner and your relationship similar to the early “honeymoon” period of the relationship where you “dated”. When couples first start dating they often set aside time to connect together, to have fun, and ultimately get to know each other and build their relationship.

These aspects are also referred to as “rituals of connection”, which is formal or informal intentional time set aside to emotionally connect.

Although the honeymoon period can feel wonderful and be a carefree experience of getting to know one another, moving out of this stage of a relationship is an opportunity to deeply get to know your partner and grow in the relationship together. Despite the importance of moving past the honeymoon one thing to continue to try an incorporate from this phase is rituals of connection.

Why are rituals of connection important?
Rituals of connection is a term used by Gottman. These regular times are intended to connect and create a shared meaning in your relationship. Gottman refers rituals of connection as a vital part of a successful long-term relationship.

Intentionally setting aside time for your relationship helps to show your partner that they are cared for and considered, and that the relationship is important to you. These points of connection help to strengthening your relationship bond, which is important in the good times but also in stressful and difficult times that inevitably arise.

Regularly date nights or celebrating special events together like birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays are often what people think of when they are trying to create connection. These are wonderful, but can be difficult when life is busy and inflation increasing.

This concept of continuing to date or have rituals of connection throughout your relationship might sound wonderful or you might be thinking that there is not enough time for this. In a busy world with so many tasks to do and things to complete it is often coming together for this time that takes a back seat.

Here are some smaller ways to create rituals of connection and continue strengthen your relationship:

• Find something that you both already do but do it together. This could be something like eating dinner together (without your phone) or going to sleep/getting ready for bed at the same time. This might seem small, but it carves out time for you two spend together.
• Calling each other on your way to or from work. You often have to spend that time commuting, why not turn it into something that can build the relationship.
• Good morning and good night rituals. These could be things like sending a text message or hugging your partner.
• Have a stress reducing conversation: this can be as simple as asking your partner “How was your day?”, this provides an opportunity to release and discuss external pressures. Couples that actively listen, share their experiences, and show compassion create stronger emotional connection.
• Relationship check ins: set aside time to reflect on the relationship, such as things that worked well and things that need to be addressed. This helps each person in the relationship to feel heard, understood, and appreciated.

Some couples may find that unresolved difficulties in their relationships are also barriers for developing rituals of connection. If this is something you are struggling with, it is always helpful to address with a mental health professional.