As the 4th of July approaches, I thought I would focus on family time, rituals and traditions. The 4th of July is a celebration of the birth of our nation and our independence. For the most part, we get together with friends and family, celebrating with our traditions and, at the end of the night, our celebration culminates with fireworks.
So, what sort of holiday traditions do you celebrate? Whatever the holiday, how do you celebrate and honor the traditions of that specific day?
Rituals of Connection
When I work with couples, one of the important things we discuss is creating rituals of connection through formal or informal rituals. Dr. John Gottman talks about the importance of celebrating a shared meaning system. A shared meaning system is our beliefs and values about our relationship—it’s where we make meaning intentional. It’s the roles, rituals, goals, and symbols that celebrate our relationship. Part of a shared meaning system is accepting and honoring rituals of connection and agreeing on formal and informal rituals.
How do we celebrate our connections and create a sense of shared meaning in our busy lives?
Rituals of connection are the small and big ways you celebrate your relationship. Sometimes in the craziness of life, couples stop nurturing their relationship. They stop paying attention to each other and the little ways they come together and connect to each other. There needs to be some agreement on ways a couple comes together to celebrate their relationship.
Formal rituals usually are attached to things like holiday traditions.
Another kind of ritual is family time.
I ask couples to think about how they celebrate and join in family time, and what kind of family traditions they participate in. We explore what new traditions they are exploring and implementing in their families, too.
Each partner asks the other how they celebrated things like family time in their own family, what sort of holiday traditions they had. We ask what do they want to do in their relationship that honors what they did when they grew up and what sort of new traditions and rituals do they want to create together now.
With this upcoming holiday, ask yourself what family holiday traditions help you celebrate the 4th together?
Bringing ritual to the day-to-day.
Informal rituals are the small ways that you nurture your relationship every day. Kind words or words of appreciation, buying flowers for each other, making coffee for each other in morning or a hug and a kiss when you get home from work.
Rituals are ways to bring couples closer together. They really help couples speak unspoken words of love and understanding because they are shared and mutual agreements that couples have made together. Such rituals of connection, whether they are formal or informal, are ways of connecting that only the you and your partner share with each other. Creating rituals communicates and reinforces your emotional closeness and intimacy.
So as you are hitting the beach or pool this July 4th or heading to a BBQ, think about the tradition or ritual that you are creating in your own family and couple.
The other thing I want you to do as a couple is to talk about and identify ways you are going to participate in informal rituals. What are the small things you are going to do for each other every day to nurture your relationship?
Dr. John Gottman has said that it is the small ways that couples nurture their relationship that keeps the relationship together.
Have fun creating your informal and formal rituals and have fun participating in them.
Happy 4th of July!