Every time I mention that Jordan and I have a weekly relationship ritual, everybody wants to know exactly what we do and exactly how to do it.
Having a relationship ritual is the absolute number-one thing I recommend for the health of your relationship.
It has been such a game-changer in our relationship; I honestly think it’s more important than sex or anything else.
It allows us to feel completely open and clear with one another. It lets us share things that it might not have had occurred to us to intentionally share otherwise. It gives us a full understanding of what’s happening in each other’s lives, and how that’s impacting our relationship.
This practice single-handedly makes our sex life better, gives us better day-to-day communication, and makes us feel open and in love, all of the time.
I know those are some big promises – and they’re true.
The 2 main components of our relationship ritual
1. The container
First, you have to set the container for your relationship ritual. This is something you should come up with together.
The container is the structure, the boundaries, the discipline around the ritual. This is INCREDIBLY important, because if you don’t honor the container, the ritual itself will easily get put on the back burner, feel unimportant, and become less effective.
Think of it almost like lifting weights. If you don’t regularly go to the gym and you only go every few weeks to test your max, you’re not going to get any stronger, and it will always feel hard.
It’s the same thing with your relationship ritual – if you don’t do it consistently (and I HIGHLY recommend you do it weekly), your communication with one another won’t get much better. If you only rely on it when you “need” it (eg when you’re having conflict), it won’t be that helpful.
Jordan and I have a night set aside for our relationship ritual every single week (ours is Thursday evening). Neither of us schedule anything for after 6 pm on Thursdays. We really do our best to treat this time as sacred.
There is some flexibility around it – if an important event comes up that can’t be moved, or one of us has an obligation that can’t be changed, we talk to one another about it. Sometimes one of us will ask if we can move ritual night to Friday or a different day that week; occasionally, over the past year, life has gotten in the way and we’ve missed a week entirely – but it’s rare.
Every time we’ve missed a week, I’ve noticed it in my body – even if everything is totally fine on the surface, it’s still felt like we just aren’t as deeply connected as we usually are.
I cannot stress enough the importance of committing to the container, especially when you don’t particularly feel like doing it. There have been many weeks when I was so tired, didn’t feel like it… and then felt so much better afterward. There have been weeks when one of us has had an opening that we completely did not expect. There have been weeks where we’ve had conflict come up that we didn’t even know we were sitting on.
The regularity of it is important. You’ll have to work around your schedule, but after doing it weekly for so long, I really recommend that length of time in between – any longer has felt too long. A lot of life/feelings/emotions happen in a week.
Committing to the container of the ritual is symbolic of your commitment to the relationship.
Remember that you’re both on the same team, and you’re working toward the same goal. A ritual is an easy way to consistently water the garden of your relationship.
2. The communication practice
At the heart of our ritual is a communication exercise. There are a few you can try, and I’ll give you the example of what we do, and then what I think is best for you to start with, because they’re different.
We always, always do what we call a “clearing.” This is simple, and involves both of us finishing the sentence stem, “Something I want you to know is.”
To begin the clearing, we sit down across from one another, often with our legs or knees touching. We spend a few moments gazing into one another’s eyes and settling into our bodies. If you’re not practiced at this part, I recommend making this time intentional and setting a timer for a few minutes.
If one of us has had more come up during one week than the other, that person will usually go first – we don’t have a hard rule around it, but we typically switch back and forth week to week. (If this is your first time trying it with a partner and it was your idea, you should go first).
So, one person will begin, and they’ll finish the sentence, “Something I want you to know is.” The same person does this over and over again, until they feel complete.
These things encompass all areas of life, and aren’t limited to the relationship.
“Something I want you to know is that I’ve been feeling really sad this week because of what’s been coming up in my family, and I’ve felt less sexual overall because of it.”
“Something I want you to know is that I really appreciate the way you always take out the trash and compost and recycling and how I never have to have anything to do with it.”
“Something I want you to know is that I’m super excited about the way business is going for me lately, and I feel like I’ve turned a new corner in how I’m relating to money.”
“Something I want you to know is that I felt hurt when you didn’t call me at the time you said you were going to the other day, because it reminded me of the way I was treated as a child and it felt like my needs weren’t that important to you.”
“Something I want you to know is that I notice we haven’t been having sex as much recently, and I really want to put effort into making sure we’re being sexual more often.”
And on and on, until you feel complete.
The other person will simply say, “Thank you,” and then you’ll switch.
If you want more structure around it, you can set a timer (try starting with 10 minutes each). Since we do it every week, the length of it varies for Jordan and me. Some weeks it’s short and takes half an hour (this is usually the case if we’re squeezing it in later in the evening, or if the week has just been more uneventful). Some weeks it can take two hours or longer, until we both feel complete.
If you’ve been having conflict, this can feel particularly difficult. Jordan and I have had some really hard clearings where we both shared how we were feeling and then felt like we were at an impasse, usually because one of us was triggered but couldn’t get out of it, or because we hadn’t gotten to the root of the conflict. We’ve had clearings where we’ve paused it in order to have some space from one another and process our emotions on our own, before coming back together. We’ve also had clearings (rarely) where we’ve hit an impasse and simply gone to bed, and then finished talking about what came up in the morning.
The point is that it doesn’t have to always be perfect or look exactly the way you want it to. Again, it’s the same as the gym – every single workout won’t feel like your best one ever. Sometimes you’ll be tired, or a little injured, or whatever else. The important thing is that you’re showing up for the ritual and you’re trying. And showing up when it’s hard IS what brings you the rituals that are incredibly beautiful and you’re so in love and crying from happiness.
Fears, Loves, Desires
While “Something I want you to know” is great because it automatically encompasses all of life, it will not be the best place to start for most people, especially if you’ve never done a practice like this with your partner before.
This is because it’s a bit vague, and you can easily avoid talking about anything that’s deep or difficult by simply just not mentioning it.
This is where Fears, Loves, Desires comes in.
For FLD, you’ll have even more structure, because you’ll be finishing the sentences, “Something I’m afraid of is,” “Something I love about you is,” “Something that I want is.”
You can do this the same way I talked about for the clearing – either set a timer (try 3-5 mins per person per sentence stem), or just go until you feel complete. You’ll do each stem one at a time, so person A will do fears, person B will do fears, person A will do loves, person B will do loves, etc.
“Something I’m afraid of is you leaving me or dying and me having to care for our kids all alone.”
“Something I’m afraid of is that I’ll run out of money and have to go into debt.”
“Something I’m afraid of is never being successful.”
“Something I’m afraid of is that you’ll find another woman who you like better than me.”
“Something I love about you is your beautiful blue eyes and your perfect mouth.”
“Something I love about you is how gently and lovingly you touch me, and how I can always feel your presence.”
“Something I love about you is how driven and ambitious you are.”
“Something I want is to have a house with a big yard and outdoor shower.”
“Something I want is for us to continue doing this ritual every single week, and to make it really important.”
“Something I want is to be able to rest the first day of every single period.”
Both the “fears” and “desires” section can include things that have to do with your relationship, and things that don’t – it should be a mix.
The role of the listener
The most important thing to remember with these practices is that the role of the person who is not speaking, is ONLY to witness the person speaking. When you’re listening, do your best to give your partner your full presence.
Stay centered in your body and don’t make anything they say mean anything about you.
Give them the gift of being listened to fully and completely.
When the person speaking is finished, the listener always says “thank you” before they take their turn speaking. This helps the other person feel fully heard.
That’s it! You can combine your ritual with a date night, or add in sexual components, or whatever else you want to do. For us, we almost always keep date nights separate (I think date night feels more fun, and ritual night feels more intentional that way).
We’ve done this practice weekly for almost a year now, and it truly has been the most beneficial tool we’ve added to support our relationship.
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