When I was a little girl, I feared Saturday mornings. My mom never seemed to wake up happy on the weekends. She was not a morning person. I had a routine to handle the cycle though after I enjoyed my morning cartoons, I would find something to keep me occupied until my mother came out from her cave. Dad would try to keep us quiet after he got up, but if we woke mom up, there would be hell to pay.
Flash forward to today: On Saturday mornings, after my husband and I spend a few moments kissing, cuddling, and caressing one another, he calls our son by name, “Aiden!” Our son hollers to his twin sister and older brother, and they all come pile on top of me in my bed and cover me with kisses and cuddles.
I decided that I would not repeat my mother’s ritual of rage on weekends. I would instead find appreciation and joy in the moments of noise in the morning. On weekdays, when I do not linger in bed past 10 am, before even starting the coffee, I go to each child and tell them, “Good morning!” and kiss them and hug them. This is my morning ritual.
My evening ritual falls along the same lines. Only we add reading a story, lots of tickling, and sometimes, a pillow fight—just to help drain some of that reserved energy to help the natural melatonin chemicals secrete a bit faster. We conclude with hugs and kisses and “I love you.”
We all have rituals whether we recognize them or not. Sometimes they are merely routine habits that help us begin or end our day.
After the morning greeting with the kids, I have my own ritual for “waking up” and mentally preparing for the day. I brew the coffee, grab a few cigarettes, put on my slippers, and head outside to enjoy the sunshine with my coffee and nicotine. It’s not the healthiest of rituals, but it’s how I wake up. My husband joins me, and we scroll social media together while sipping coffee and puffing on cigs. We then discuss what we see in our newsfeeds. We laugh, we complain, we unpack ideas over coffee. If we had sex the night before, we talk about how great it was and what we liked. If we have plans for the day, we share what those are with one another. If we need help from each other at some point, we make mention of it.
Going back to sex, we have rituals for that as well. And many people do. It’s just that sometimes, we don’t realize how ritualistic we are in our plans. But they are very important practices for maintaining our bonds within the relationships we are in.
For instance, many people want a proper bathing session prior to getting their freak on between the sheets. Maybe you exfoliate, shave body hair, relax in a hot tub or stand under a hot shower for a few extra minutes. Do you put cologne or perfume on? Tie your hair back? Apply liberal amounts of moisturizer or oils?
Do you create a mood? Set the scene? Light candles and incense, close the curtains or shades, put on some relaxing or seductive music? Do you clear the bed of all the extra throw pillows? Make sure the satin or bamboo sheets are on the bed? Do you have a towel handy?
What about feasting? Is there any? Many people go out to dinner or eat in before slipping into something more comfortable. This too is ritualistic. We feed our bellies before we feed our sexual appetites. Some people are selective about what they eat prior to an evening naked. Certain foods may cause reactions that otherwise interrupt relaxing spaces of intimacy and canoodling. For instance, I ignore brassicas: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and lettuce, if I know I am going to be engaging in horizontal refreshments. I keep peppermints and water accessible in our erotic space too. Stay hydrated and minty fresh! You may have fruits and olives prepared to snack on for intermissions. You may share shots of whiskey, or sip wine or share a joint to relax and get toasty. Food and drink have almost always been components of rituals throughout history.
Many couples include a ritual of “foreplay,” and to some, that is simply just touching and caressing for moments before penetration. The incorporation of touch (and how we touch one another, when, and where) adds a particular component to the ritual that encourages sexual arousal. And the sooner, the better, not just minutes before the grand finale.
Conversation, however, is the best foreplay. Communication is lubrication. Allowing ourselves the freedom to be fluid in our speech and unravel the knots of the day is a great way to unwind and mentally unclog before moving into other movements of nakedness. It’s like a liberation of the lips, tongue, and throat.
Do you notice how the rituals we include into our unfolding scenes center on the senses? Do you also notice that rituals invite a sense of intimacy into the space? There is no doubt a celebratory component of ritual, but notice too, the playfulness and imaginative components of it. Rituals are erotic by nature. They incorporate multiple dimensions of reality into the experience. And they affirm relationships and the uniqueness of the bond.
If you look closely, you may see that many of your relationships incorporate rituals. Sure, we endorse the rituals of birthdays and anniversaries, along with holidays and other special occasions significant to us and our tribe. But can we create more space for love within our relationships by really appreciating the ritualistic dimensions that we may take for granted? And if, by adding these layers of texture and significance to our relationships, can we strengthen our bonds, reduce conflicts, and finally get to a deeper understanding of the other person?
Maybe your rituals have become redundant? Maybe they lack vibrancy and spontaneity? How can you inject some aliveness into your relationship?
- Share in “highs and lows.” What was the high of your day, what was the low of your day? Talk about why.
- Plan special lunch or coffee/tea dates to reconnect with friends
- Pillow fights
- No-phone nights/dates
- Breakfast dates
- Private messaging channels for just you and your significant other where you can say whatever is on your mind without judgment
- Movie nights- but discuss the movie together afterward
- Cook dinner together every Wednesday evening (or pick a day and commit to it for a set amount of time).
- Attention Appointments- time that you set every day, or every few days, for you and the person you want to strengthen the relationship with—even a child. Hold space for that person to vent, complain, express fear and anxiety, or just confront an issue or conflict without needing to fix it or deny it (should it be you that they are confronting).
Whatever you do, be sure to take notice and appreciate the very special ways that you incorporate ritual into your relationship.