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Marriage • 3 minutes to read
What picture comes to mind when you hear the word “rituals?” Does your mind travel to ancient times when cultures or groups performed spiritual rituals to appease the gods? Perhaps you think of present-day military personnel or professional athletes who develop certain rituals designed to help them maintain focus when overcoming their enemy or opponent.
Truth be told, rituals are an integral part of our lives. An important question to consider is, “How do rituals play out in our personal, everyday activities?”
Most rituals are developed at a subconscious level. Our mind automatically creates behaviors that keep us safe and help us survive. Whether we are aware of them or not, everyday living contains rituals that might include eating, exercise, grooming, social media, work, spiritual disciplines and more.
Recently, I was struck by the value of healthy rituals. Ted had his second shoulder surgery and, unlike other surgeries, his entire arm and shoulder needed to stay immobile for six weeks. This healing process required many new rituals:
- Taking off a shirt without disrupting the shoulder
- Icing the shoulder to keep the swelling down and the pain at bay
- Daily hygiene; cumbersome, but necessary
- Rehab therapy to produce flexibility and mobility in the arm and shoulder
When we stop and think about all the activities we do—on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis—many of which are subconscious, we begin to look at rituals differently.
Most rituals help bring stability and health to our lives. However, when working on our addiction issues, we soon recognize that our survival brain learns to avoid pain through subconscious rituals, such as unhealthy fantasies or sexually acting out. These behaviors can lead to individual consequences: lying, isolation, and feelings of worthlessness and shame. They can also affect those we love and cause betrayal, separation, or even divorce.
Thankfully, Pure Desire offers assistance with uncovering and healing these destructive rituals. As healing takes place, it is paramount that we learn to re-orientate our life; replacing past unhealthy ways of coping with new healthy rituals that lead to intimacy and healthy sexual behaviors in our marriage.
New Daily Routines For Emotional Intimacy
4 – 3 – 3 – 1 EXERCISE
The following daily rituals can help create new and healthy emotional connections between you and your spouse.
Four times a day stop and remind yourself how important your spouse is to you. Take the opportunity to share positive affirmations with your spouse with a note, text, or phone call.
Three times a day give your spouse a full body hug for 6 seconds. This is how long it takes for oxytocin to be released in your brain. Oxytocin is the brain chemical that creates a sense of bonding to your spouse.
Three times a day stop and thank God for your spouse. Like prozac, gratitude boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. A single act of gratitude increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex. Verbalizing your thanks to your spouse helps create the 5 positives to 1 negative ratio needed to have a successful marriage.
One time a day pray together as a couple.
Ted and I like to pray together at night before we go to bed. If there has been disagreements during the day, our commitment to pray helps us face any unresolved issues. Early in our marriage we realized, it is almost impossible to go to God in prayer if there is something unresolved between us. In one of his sermons, Andy Stanley said that only eight percent of Christian couples pray out loud together on a regular basis. However, of the eight percent, only 1 in 10,000 relationships end in divorce.
New Rituals For Sexual Intimacy
As we develop new rituals for sexual intimacy, being present and getting rid of past fantasies can be difficult. To transform the mind and starve old rituals, it is important to be proactive with new behaviors that help us remain present during love-making.
- Make sure you have some light, such as candle light, so you can see each other
- Keep your eyes open the entire time to enjoy the gift of your spouse. This help you remain present and avoid fantasy.
- Until old fantasies are gone, use only sexual positions that allow you to see each other.
- Eliminate any dirty talk that tears down and objectifies your spouse. Use positive language that communicates love and reinforces their significance in your life.
Developing new rituals will create new pathways in your brain and help you truly experience transformation by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2).
Allow love to become your new ritual.