The second habit in 9 Habits for Healthy and Happy Marriages is: Create rituals of connection!

Kyle’s schedule requires him to leave the house at 6:45 a.m. Stacey doesn’t leave till 7:15. Stacey is usually in the shower when James leaves for work. They have fallen into the habit of not connecting in the morning. They go about their day focused on their own concerns. When James returns from work, Amy is home but preoccupied. When she hears him walk in, she hopes he will come and find her, but he typically sits in the kitchen reading the paper until she comes out. When she does come into the kitchen, Kyle gives Stacey an obligatory peck on the cheek before returning to his reading.

Lindsey is surprised to see Brett’s car in the garage as she pulls in. He’s normally a good half hour later than she getting home. As she walks in, Brett drops the paper and greets her near the door, giving her a big hug and kiss. Lindsey smiles and is glad to be home which feels like an oasis from her stressful day of teaching.

For most couples, workdays involve one or both of you leaving home in the morning and returning at night. These points of parting and reuniting provide important moments that can connect you or create more distance. Couples whose schedules or moods cause them to neglect their goodbyes and hellos end up drifting apart.

Being intentional about how you connect at the beginning and end of the day is vitally important to sustaining your marital bond. Here are a few tips to creating rituals of connection:

  1. Make a point of kissing each other good-bye and asking each other to share one thing you are anticipating or dreading about your day. It might be an important meeting or a difficult conversation. Another time it might be a fun lunch with a coworker or an expected errand. Just knowing something about how you each will be spending your day can help you think of each other during the day and feel more connected.
  2. When you return at night, make sure you give each other a kiss hello within the first minute of arriving. Seeking your mate out or dropping what you are doing to greet them tells them they are important to you.
  3. Over dinner, check in with each other about how your anticipated event went. This allows you each to express interest and care about the daily life of each other.
  4. Go to bed together. Couples who neglect a shared bedtime miss those moments of conversation and cuddling that nurture connection.
  5. Don’t go to sleep without a kiss to close out the day. My husband and I always kiss before going to sleep. Even when there has been tension between us, the kiss tells one another that our love is secure, no matter what.

If you’ve been letting your partings and greetings slide, consider reinstating them. Those simple hello and goodbye kisses will vitalize your marriage, and help you and your spouse stay connected even when you’re apart. For more on creating rituals of connection, check on John Gottman’s Relationship Blog.

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