In a long-term relationship, couples often get into their own rhythm of getting on with their day. One person may want to sleep in or have a cup of coffee every morning while the other may want to go for a run. It is important that we all get to do things that bring us joy amidst the daily grind. It is also important that we try to form good habits for our relationship. The Gottman Method highlights the importance of having daily rituals of connection with your partner, which means creating a pattern of turning towards one another that is reliable and can be counted on.
Couples who have regular rituals of connection will be able to create a shared meaning in their lives and, thereby, deepen their relationship. Without regular rituals of connection, some couples become more like roommates, cohabiting in a shared space while getting on with their separate, daily lives. Once you lose that daily connection, resentment can breed and conflict (often over little things) may begin to escalate quickly. Over time, couples can grow apart without even realizing it.
Let’s consider some rituals of connection that couples can sprinkle into their daily lives to improve connection and intimacy:
Exercise is great for individuals, generating endorphins and improving your health generally. Extending an invitation to exercise with your partner can be beneficial for many reasons. You will both feel great together, have a shared goal of doing the activity (from walking to something more intense like trail running or a HIIT class), and be able to bond over the experience. You could even pick a new activity to learn together from scratch.
Some couples say “I love you” so often that it is almost a form of greeting. There are also couples who kiss goodbye swiftly and automatically. While there is a lot of good there, we encourage you to take a minute to be mindful of your greetings and actions. Be intentional when you give affection, and this means being present to give love and feeling it during that moment.
World-renowned psychologist and relationship researcher Dr. John Gottman recommends introducing the six-second kiss as a way of strengthing your relationship. The six-second kiss allows partners to release endorphins which improve your mood, reduce stress and boost feelings of intimacy and connection. Additionally, kissing has been shown scientifically to strengthen the immune system too by increasing the production of antibodies.
The best way to catch up with your partner is to come together at the end of the day and share a stress-reducing conversation. This involves asking your partner about their day and actively listening to them while they share. You take turns sharing about your day and refrain from making judgments or providing unsolicited advice. Avoid talking about your relationship problems during this conversation as the focus is on external factors affecting your partner.
The core goal of this conversation is to make each other feel heard and understood. Once this is achieved, your partner will be able to unwind and relax. Over time, you will both look forward to this conversation and it will allow you to strengthen your connection, building on a positive perspective for your relationship.
When you connect with your partner over mealtime and during your end-of-day conversation, we encourage couples to put away their phones and devices. This will improve your active listening skills and allow you to be more present for each other.
Whether you choose to cook a meal together once a week, commit to a Saturday hike or enjoy a nightly evening cup of tea and chat session, setting the intention to create and practice connection rituals can help you and your partner deepen your emotional bond and increase the security and stability of the relationship.