Many families have “family traditions” to strengthen their family relationships. Couples too can cultivate a sweeter and stronger emotional, spiritual and physical connection by creating “marriage traditions” that will draw husband and wife together.
What Is a “Marriage Tradition?”
A marriage tradition is an activity or ritual that has significance to both husband and wife, which results in emotional, spiritual and/or physical connection. (You can always tell whether you are “working hard” on your marriage or “working smart” by the results that your efforts are producing.) Marriage traditions provide ongoing opportunities to be together as husband and wife-to feel like a couple again, to be sweethearts-amidst the demands that pull husband and wife in different directions.
In the beginning of your relationship it may have been a daily phone call, meeting every day for lunch, taking time to listen and share, or love notes, cards and roses that created ongoing opportunities to connect. But after marriage sometimes we forget that love still needs constant nourishment, especially as life’s demands begin to consume our time and energy. Often the marriage relationship slips down our priority hierarchy allowing other demands to take precedence.
Marriage traditions may be daily, weekly, monthly or annual activities or events. They can be big or small, splashy or simple. They are like glue that binds a husband and wife together-heart and soul.
Why Have Marriage Traditions?
- For regular positive interactions. With the steady disintegration of marriages and families, we need to give priority time and attention to our marriage to keep the spark of friendship and enjoyment alive. After many years and many struggles Stacy could hardly remember any good times with her husband. So many negative experiences had accumulated, conditioning her to have negative thoughts and feelings about her spouse. Marriage traditions can break the downward spiral, allowing positive feelings to flow again. Couples can make deposits into their marriage memory bank with positive interactions and activities, which build strong marital anchors of shared pleasurable experiences. It is a strong and loving marriage that provides the foundation for a strong and happy family.
- As an antidote for parallel marriage.In our fast-paced, busy lives husbands and wives can easily fall into the rut of a parallel marriage where they may be going in the same direction, but their paths rarely cross and their hearts rarely connect. A parallel marriage is one that has gone flat and feels empty and lonely. Creating and maintaining marriage traditions is an antidote for a parallel marriage and protection against disintegration and the vulnerability to temptation that is naturally present in parallel marriages.
Parallel or mediocre marriages have few, if any, built-in connecting opportunities for husband and wife. They are continually running low on intimate fuel, which otherwise keeps the relationship fresh and thriving. Consider marriage traditions as opportunities to stoke the fire of friendship and fondness, restoring vital fuel that will be needed throughout life and especially during times of trial.
- To grow together rather than apart. Do you realize that your spouse learns new things and grows in new ways day after day? He or she is technically a new and improved person every day. Marital connection rituals encourage couples to keep up with each other’s ongoing development, and to continually get to know each other better allowing them to grow together rather than apart. Connecting on a personal, heart-to-heart level leads to greater intimacy and ONEness in all dimensions of marriage.
- To send the message that your marriage is a priority. Creating and maintaining marriage traditions sends the message that your marriage is a priority. A rich relationship requires priority time and effort, not your leftovers. Scheduling such occasions sends the message to your spouse that they are important to you-that they come first! Children might even help you remember your marriage traditions by asking you who will be their babysitter for your date night on Friday!
Having marriage traditions teaches your children the importance of marriage and the importance of the husband/wife relationship. There is nothing that will create greater security and a positive environment for your children’s emotional health and well being than letting your children see and feel how much their mom and dad love each other. Your example will also teach your children how to treat their future eternal companion. What message are you currently sending your sweetheart and your children about your marriage?
- For fun! Marriage traditions are just plain fun! They provide opportunities to simply enjoy each other’s company and to build your friendship, so that you not only love your spouse, but you continue to like him too! Marriage traditions put the “play” back into your relationship! In my life I know I can make it through any week because Friday night is scheduled for date night where I will have a chance to be my husband’s sweetheart and to share a fun evening together. When the Proclamation on the Family speaks of “wholesome recreational activities,” it is not just for families, but for marriages too!
Marriage Tradition Ideas
What are some examples of marriage activities that you might be able to use or adapt to your relationship? The following are a few ideas to inspire your own traditions:
Kneel in prayer together each night.
Tell each other “I love you” before going to sleep.
Hold each other or touch in some way as you fall asleep.
Check in with each other by phone or email every day.
Take a dance class or other class together.
Read to each other before bed.
Have a weekly date.
Meet for lunch together every Tuesday.
Make time for “pillow talk” before bed each night.
Go shopping for groceries together each week.
On Valentine’s Day update your individual lists of what makes you feel loved, then share it with each other.
Celebrate your birthdays by reading and discussing each other’s Patriarchal Blessings to remember the divine within each of you.
Have your wedding rings cleaned and polished for your anniversary.
Celebrate your wedding anniversary by attending the temple to perform sealings.
Watch your wedding video or look through your wedding album every year on your anniversary.
Go on an annual weekend getaway … just the two of you!
Share Your Marriage Traditions
How do you and your spouse connect on a regular basis? Share with us your simple or simply marvelous marriage rituals that help you and your sweetheart connect in meaningful ways. Send your examples to [email protected]
Start Your Own Marriage Traditions Today!
Today is a great day to discuss and establish ongoing opportunities for closeness and emotional connection. Creating and maintaining regular marriage traditions will provide regular positive interactions, afford you an antidote for parallel marriage, help you grow together rather than apart, send the message that your marriage and your spouse is a priority, and furnish your marriage with fun! Choose one new activity today to cultivate a more intimate and enjoyable emotional connection in your marriage. The return on your investment of time and effort will be well worth it!
Laura M. Brotherson is a marriage and family life educator (CFLE) certified by the National Council on Family Relations, and is the author of a ground breaking new book on sexual intimacy and marital ONEness entitled, And They Were Not Ashamed-Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment. For more information visit www.StrengtheningMarriage.com. Laura welcomes your comments at [email protected]