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Five Daily Rituals to Enhance Your Relationship

The everyday — filled with its supposedly inconsequential interactions and circumstances — is actually quite consequential when it comes to romantic relationships.

That’s because relationships are cumulative, said Nikki Massey-Hastings, Psy.D., a psychotherapist who specializes in couples. “Each seemingly insignificant daily interaction with one’s partner builds upon the interactions from yesterday, last week, and last year … for better or worse.”

A couple with a history of loving interactions and success solving daily problems is more likely to have a securely attached relationship, Massey-Hastings said.

And that’s a great thing. Couples with a secure attachment are able to rely on each other, turn to each other for comfort and traverse potentially tough times, she noted.

In other words, positive daily interactions create buffers against future challenges.

Take parenting, for instance. One of Massey-Hastings’s clients told her: “We finally had dinner and watched a movie last night for the first time since we brought the baby home. At the end of our night, we smiled at each other and said, ‘See you in 3 months. Miss you.’”

This couple was able to joke about their situation because they had years of wonderful interactions and success dealing with mundane problems like decorating their bedroom and deeply emotional issues like figuring out treatments for their autistic son, she said.

Silvina Irwin, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist who also works with couples, described relationships as “living bonds.” According to Irwin, “without regular tending and attention, [the relationship] will wither and suffer.”

But you might be worried that working on your relationship is another time-consuming task to heap on an already overflowing pile of responsibilities. However, as Irwin said, “tending to your relationship can be woven into the fabric of your everyday life with a little extra thought and intention.”

Below, she and Massey-Hastings share five suggestions for enhancing your relationship every day.

1. Create connection-boosting rituals.

“Create a meaningful way to connect that meets both partners’ need for connection that you can count on each day,” Massey-Hastings said. For instance, when she was just beginning her career, she and her husband would eat dinner together almost every night.

But then her schedule changed, and that was no longer possible. “One week of this shift and we were both in tears — we didn’t realize how much that ritual structured our time to connect,” she said. So they revised their routine. Today, they have a snack when she gets home.

“Eating together and talking about the day, for couples and for families, is a very powerful ritual of connection,” she said.

Rituals don’t need to be elaborate, either. It could be something as simple as rubbing each other’s feet every night, which Massey-Hastings and her husband also do. It’s a minute but meaningful ritual they look forward to, she said.

If you have kids, you can create rituals after they’re in bed. For instance, Massey-Hastings works with a couple who cuddles in bed for 30 minutes after putting their child to bed.

2. Be affectionate when you say hello or goodbye.

“A time that lends itself naturally to acknowledging your bond is around moments of separation and reunions,” said Irwin, who also leads workshops for couples. She suggested asking yourself: “Do I hug and kiss my partner when we greet each other or say goodbye? How about in the evening when we say goodnight?”

Read more: PsychCentral


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