Why you and your spouse need a talk ritual

If you don't connect and reconnect with your spouse throughout the day, you will drift apart. Talking together daily is just the beginning of all the little things your marriage needs to stay healthy and happy.

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  • Have you ever found yourself wondering how it is that the person you used to call, text and spend every waking moment with seems to have disappeared from your life?

  • You are like two ships passing in the night. He works late, you leave early. You never notice when he slips into bed at night, and you hardly see each other in the course of a week.

  • You never have meals together, rarely text each other, and hardly ever have real conversations since your conversations on the phone always seem to go like this: "Hey hun, did you pick up my suit from the dry cleaners?" "Yes. How was your day?" "Fine. Yours?!" "Good." "K, well, gotta run, just getting to the store now. Love ya." "Bye."

  • Or perhaps you and your spouse have more time together than ever before, and the kids are grown and gone, but you two seem to just exist in the same space without every really talking much about anything significant. You are missing the kind of talking that really connects. Sad but true.

  • Real life has taken over - and at a dangerous pace. If you and your spouse let things continue like this, you will drift apart, and fall prey to the dangers that lurk for people in dying marriages (think along the lines of emotional and physical affairs, just to name a few). Author and Ph.D. William J. Doherty explains what happens by saying,

  • "Most unmarried people are incredulous when they hear their married friends say they don't have enough time to talk. What they don't yet realize is that everyday family life absorbs attention like a giant octopus, pulling and sucking first here and then there and back again. Although most couples may talk to each other on a given evening or weekend, what they lack is focused, regular time to talk as a couple." (The Intentional Family, p. 67.)

  • Don't get discouraged - things don't have to stay like this. This doesn't have to be your forever. It's up to you to create the relationship that you want.

  • First things first, all the demands on your time and your spouse's time need to be pushed aside for a few minutes each day so you can prioritize each other as the most important part of your lives. Every day. You two need a talk ritual.

  • You see, a talk ritual really is something so simple and is something that you two can do - starting today - if you both just commit to it. Be intentional about it...about your marriage. You need to intentionally take care of the one person who matters most to you - your spouse.

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  • So, what is a talk ritual?

  • A talk ritual is a time that is SET ASIDE from everything else in the day for the two of you to talk. Face-to-face. About life. To laugh together. To console each other. To complain about that guy at work to each other. And to just catch up and take each other's emotional temperatures. You two need this time together. Your marriage needs it. (And your kids need the benefit of parents with a healthy and happy marriage.)

  • Okay, so what does a talk ritual look like you ask? Here comes the fun part - talk rituals will look different for every couple! The only rule is that you and your spouse need to talk face-to-face for 10 minutes a day. Yes, 10. You may even use a timer if you have to. Having a start and end to the talk ritual is healthy, but it may not work for all couples - since some couples will be done talking after 7 minutes and some may need 27. So, you're starting to catch the vision of how great this could be, but you are wondering how other couples actually make this work.

  • Here are a few examples of ways other couples make talk rituals a part of their daily life:

    • Walk around the block together every evening, holding hands, and talking.

    • Linger at the table after dinner and talk then.

    • If one works late and you don't eat together, then try and talk when your spouse is eating and you are there to listen (and sneak a few bites). This is often what works for us. My husband works late and our talk rituals usually happen in the kitchen, over a late-night bowl of cereal. I sit on the counter. He eats. We talk. It's fun. And then sometimes we kiss...

    • Make a certain place in their home - like the living room couch - their talk ritual place. Every evening they sit for ten or fifteen minutes, perhaps while giving the other a hand or foot rub, and focus on each other. Even the kids know to respect mom and dad's "talk time."

    • One impressive couple we know lived a fast-paced busy life (the husband was the CEO for a huge company and was gone a LOT), yet even they made time to talk. The wife would get up early (sometimes as early as 5am) with her husband and sit in the bathroom so they could talk while he showered. I'll never forget when she shared that example with me. I was impressed with how intentional they were about taking care of their marriage, even with such a demanding schedule for her husband. And guess what? Their intentionality paid off. Their relationship is as good as ever and they kept their marriage alive during a very busy season of life. So impressive.

    • Other couples may find that their talk ritual happens on their bed, while the husband plays with his wife's hair or the wife rubs the husband's back (...we all know that connecting emotionally is a great way to get in the mood for sex).

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  • The important thing is that you find what works for you and stick with it. Then, have the flexibility to make changes if need be. If one of you is out of town, don't ignore the talk ritual. Facetime or call each other and talk. Make yourselves do it. You will both feel more connected and more satisfied, guaranteed.

  • Naturally, there are also a few rules to remember when creating a talk ritual:

  • 1. Commit to making it happen

  • Both of you have to be on the same page and help make it happen. (Have your spouse read this article after you read it, or read it together, and then talk about how you can make this work.)

  • If you miss one day, don't freak out, just find some way to help each other remember why you want to be intentional about this talk ritual - maybe offer a small reward for the person who brings it up first and helps initiate it.

  • 2. No distractions (No cell phones, TV, kids, etc.)

  • Be patient if interruptions happen, but try and minimize them. If you are out on a walk, try to not stop and talk to every neighbor. Just make it obvious that you two are in the midst of a happy conversation, and that you don't have time to stop and chat.

  • 3. Keep it positive

  • Talk ritual time is not a time to discuss big, hard issues or to complain or point out something you wish was different in the relationship. This is a time for connecting - as friends and as lovers - and that is it. It may be hard at first to come up with things to talk about, but you'll get better as you practice. Think about your day and share thoughts you had, funny stories, or anything positive that happened. You've got this.

  • So, now that you understand what a talk ritual is and how to make it happen, the final question you may have is why? What's the purpose?

  • Connection.

  • If you don't connect and reconnect with your spouse throughout the day, you will drift apart. Talking together daily is just the beginning of all the little things your marriage needs to stay healthy and happy.

  • So, choose to make a ten-minute talk ritual a must-have in your day today and every day. Those few minutes may mark the difference between a happy, meaningful, happily-ever-after kind of marriage, and a dying, drifting, desolate and lonely marriage.

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  • Make it happen, folks. Make it happen.

  • This article was originally published on Nurturing Marriage. It has been republished here with permission.

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Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.

Website: http://www.nurturingmarriage.org

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