Each day, in celebration of the release of my latest book, When Divorce Is Not An Option: How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love, I’ll look at one of the 8 habits that separates “marriage masters” from “marriage disasters.” Yesterday, I listed all 8 habits. Today, I’ll describe the first habit, Rituals of Connection. After a brief explanation, you’ll have a chance to take a quiz that can help you evaluate how healthy this habit is in your marriage.
Healthy-Marriage Habit #1: Rituals of Connection|—| Why Is This important?
One study examining fifty years of research on the effect of rituals such as eating together, praying together, and working and worshiping together found that these simple activities had an almost magical degree of power over marriage and family health (Fiese, Tomcho, Douglas, et al., 2002). Couples who regularly worked, played, discussed more than just the tasks of life, and prayed together were significantly happier and more stable than other couples and exhibited far fewer problems that negatively impact marital well-being, such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse (Fiese, 2006). Research by the Baylor University Institute for the Study of Religion found that couples who prayed together were about 30 percent happier across every aspect of their relationship (e.g., sex, parenting, financial management, division of labor, and so forth) than couples who did not; and couples who prayed “a lot” were happier than couples who prayed “sometimes” (Rushnell and DuArt, 2011). Similarly, couples who enjoy “shared meaning” (i.e, similar beliefs and purpose in life) are also much happier in their marriages than couple who feel that they are unequally yoked regarding their beliefs and attitudes (Gottman, 2011).
It is easy to understand why this is so. Couples who make time to work, play, talk, and pray together at least a little bit each day and to a greater degree each week know that they need to prioritize their marriage; that marriage is an activity, not an accessory. It can be hard to have a stable, satisfying marriage if a couple tries to squeeze in time to work, play, talk, and pray together when all the work and chores are done.
Of course, as Catholics, we believe that the family is the domestic church. We know that the Catholic Faith is filled with rituals—Sunday and daily Mass, holy days, confession and other sacraments, adoration, Stations, para-liturgies, and prayers—that bind the family of God together, call us back to each other, and bring order to our lives. Taking seriously our role as domestic church means, at least in part, celebrating the power of marriage and family rituals and routines to bind us together similarly, call us back to each other, and bring order to our lives.
Take The Rituals of Connection Quiz!
Healthy-Marriage Habit #1: Rituals of Connection for Work, Play, Talk, and Prayer
How important is developing this skill to your marriage?
Answer true (T) or false (F) for each question.
T F 1. My spouse and I get at least a little time to work together almost every day (at least five days out of seven).
T F 2. My spouse and I get at least a little time to have some fun time together almost every day (at least five days out of seven).
T F 3. My spouse and I get at least a little time to talk with each other about feelings about life and our relationship (i.e., not just stuff that needs to be done) almost every day (at least five days out of seven).
T F 4. My spouse and I get at least a little time to pray together about our life and relationship (beyond Grace at meals) almost every day (at least five days out of seven).
T F 5. Once a week, my spouse and I usually spend at least an hour or two (over and above the daily time indicated in question 1) working together on some larger household project (e.g., cleaning or fixing things at home).
T F 6. Once a week, my spouse and I get at least an hour or two (over and above the daily time indicated in question 2) to do something fun (in or out of the house) just as a couple.
T F 7. Once a week, my spouse and I get at least an hour or two (over and above the daily time indicated in question 3) to talk together in greater depth about our life and relationship.
T F 8. At least once a week, my spouse and I attend church together.
T F 9. My spouse and I enjoy each other’s company.
T F 10. Even when we are not getting along, our relationship feels comfortable and familiar.
Give yourself 1 point for each T.
You scored ______ out of a possible 10 points.
A score of 8 or higher means that your rituals and routines are a real source of strength in your relationship.
A score of 4 through 7 means that you could significantly improve your marriage by giving greater attention to increasing the presence of rituals and routines in your relationship.
A score of 3 or lower indicates that this is a critical area for improvement in your relationship.
How’d you do? Even if you feel like your marriage is, in general, in good shape, if you’d like to strengthen the rituals of connection in your marriage, check out When Divorce is Not An Option: How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love. Or, for more personalized assistance, contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute (740-266-6461) to learn more about our Catholic-integrated tele-counseling practice for couples, families, and individuals. Let us help you experience all the love God has in store for you!