Making a future together as a couple and as a family starts one day at a time, one routine at a time. These don't have to be huge performances to mean something and create memories.
The everyday routines and rituals couples have together are how they connect in small steps that lead to a lifetime of satisfaction and health. Do your routines include each other? Having separate routines is necessary to take care of yourself but in a couple relationship there must be routines and rituals that include each other and if there are kids, additional routines that include all members of the family. These would be some examples.
Couple Routines and Rituals:
- Making dinner together, eating dinner (no tv, and at the table together), cleaning the kitchen, and talking during
- Checking in during the day with a phone call, text, or email
- Putting kids to bed and then talking about the events of the day
- Attending a place of worship
- Making the bed together, getting ready in the morning
- Scheduled times of sex and romance
- Vacations for just the two of you
Family Routines and Rituals:
- Same as above with family meals
- Playing together
- Doing homework together
- Attending a place of worship
- Attending kids’ athletic games and school functions
- Doing hobbies together
- Shopping together
Individual Routines and Rituals:
- Reading, journaling
- Spa treatments
- Times with friends
- Relaxing rituals
Couples can feel out of touch with each other when the individual routines take precedence over couple and family rituals. Correcting this is simple – he likes you to get ready in time to leave for a date so your time is relaxed and you make the reservation. Just be ready in time. She wants you to help get the kids get ready for soccer practice so everyone has a positive time and the two of you can chat on the way there or meet there – just get it done, plan ahead. When a partner slacks in something like this the other one can feel like they don’t care about the relationship. Something simple just got a lot bigger. And the small amount of energy that would have gone into getting ready in time or getting the kids ready is minor compared to the energy required to handle hurt feelings of the other partner.
Does he know what you need him to do for soccer? Is it clear? He can’t read your mind. Don’t assume he should know. Does she know she needs to start getting ready at a certain time to take into account the drive to the restaurant and making the reservation time? She can’t read your mind either. Be clear and gentle. The same goes for the family. Does everyone know what they need to do for a certain routine for it to all come together? Praise the kids when they at least moderately follow through. This will likely win more cooperation and build their self-esteem. If you find you have plenty of routines but no emotional, mental, spiritual or physical connection with each other then discuss that and be more intentional.
Finally, people in marriages feel important when the other partner follows through on these small routines. It is where people feel they are valued and that they are loved and cared about. This is where couples make a future together every day.