Special "I love you" rituals repeated each day will help all of you feel connected. Taking a few minutes to create a feeling of togetherness can pay big dividends. You not only get the warm feelings, but often get more energy and cooperation to take on some of the other items on your "to do" list.
As you create your own rituals keep in mind they need to be meaningful and repeated. Here are some ideas to start with:
Family mealtime, bedtime rituals, and how we celebrate special occasions are all examples of traditions that families establish. Traditions are important. They are the glue that holds families together. Our traditions give us a sense of belonging and predictability. Now that your family has changed, you may want to intentionally plan the rituals and traditions you want to continue or begin.
Start with daily rituals. Think about waking up, mealtimes, saying goodbye, coming back together, and bedtime. What do you do that has special meaning? It can be as simple as a wake-up song repeated each morning, coffee time together as a couple or a kiss goodbye. Are family meals a priority? What's discussed at mealtime? Is the TV on or off? With the time demands of parenting, have you given up important couple rituals?
Next you might look at special family events like birthdays, anniversaries, and vacations. Do you expect a cake and party for your birthday? Are events like your anniversary celebrated or do they slide by with little notice? Are gifts given and received for these occasions? When vacation time rolls around, is it a time to relax and catch up on work at home or a time to see the world? Does the whole family go on trips or just Mom and Dad? There are many things to think about and discuss.
Some traditions involve extended family and friends, like holidays, weddings and funerals. Where do you go and what do you eat? Who prepares the food? Do you look forward to this time, or are you just relieved it's over for another year? What's important and what might change?
Traditions help keep families strong and feeling close. They don't "just happen" so plan today!
I knew couples who'd been married almost forever - forty, fifty, sixty years. Seventy-two, in one case. They'd be tending each other's illnesses, filling in each other's faulty memories, dealing with the money troubles or the daughter's suicide, or the grandsonšs drug addiction. And I was beginning to suspect that it made no difference whether they'd married the right person.
Finally, you're just with who youšre with. You've signed on with her, put in a half century with her, grown to know her as well as you know yourself or even better, and shešs become the right person. Or the only person, might be more to the point. I wish someone had told me that earlier. Išd have hung on then; I swear I would.
From Anne Tyler's A Patchwork Planet,
A father decided to help his four year old understand the concept of marriage. He pulled out the wedding album to show photos of the bride arriving, the ceremony, the reception, etc. "Now do you understand?" he asked. "I think so," she said, "is that when mommy came to work for us?"
Celebrations and family rituals often involve giving or receiving gifts. Staying within a budget and giving gifts can be a difficult task. Deciding when gifts should be given, who should be responsible for selecting them and how much to spend can be complicated.
Talking about gift giving and receiving with your partner and other family members is a good way to prevent hurt feelings and conflict.
Conversation starters: I would expect to receive a gift from you on...(what occasions) The most wonderful gift I've ever received was...The worst give-giving experience I had was...We should buy gifts for.... (Who–what occasions)
Grandparents, friends and family members may ask you for gift ideas for your baby. Why not start a new tradition? Here are some ideas for each gift giving opportunity:
No one wants to disappoint friends and family or be outdone by others when it comes to gift giving. A little thought and talking about expectations can help make celebrations special and also keep your finances in good order.
For additional information: Check your library for The Intentional Family, written by Willliam Doherty.