Valentine’s Day All Year ‘Round: Creating and Maintaining Romantic Rituals
Valentine’s Day is the just around the corner. This day of celebrating “love” was declared February 14 around 498 A.D. by Pope Gelasius (http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/013032.html). Rituals like Valentine’s Day are important for building connections in relationships. The process of acknowledging and affirming the importance of a relationship can be a crucial element for building stronger bonds. Developing rituals that are celebrated throughout the year is an effective strategy toward deeper meaning and friendship.
Valentine’s Day is a ritual that formalizes the acknowledgement of the love and connection people feel about their significant others. Canary, D. J., Stafford, L., Hause, K. S., & Wallace, L. A. (1993) noted that joint activities are viewed as the strategy most important in maintaining relationships. Rituals can encompass many different activities in a relationship including:
- Couples time – Enjoyable activities shared together including hobbies, meals and mutually shared interests.
- Symbolic Rituals – Rituals that mark celebrations of birthdays, holidays. This also includes rituals that include pet names and play rituals.
- Daily routines and tasks – Morning and evening rituals, bedtime, and other daily rituals.
- Intimacy expressions – Rituals in both emotional and physical intimacy.
- Communication rituals – Sharing, supporting, and venting rituals.
- Spiritual rituals – Personal and community rituals.
Bruess and Pearson (1997; 2002)
Creating and maintaining romantic rituals can enhance, sustain, and build deeper and more meaningful relationships in couples. Couples create meaningful rituals by sharing with each other what is important to them. Make time to sit down with your partner to discuss what rituals are currently shared in the relationship and what new rituals can be created. Listening to each partner’s needs and integrating those needs into the ritual development can assist in the creation of satisfying rituals. When establishing a ritual it is important to be specific: What would you like to have as a ritual? How will you carry it out? When will you participate in the ritual?
Valentine’s Day comes once a year but couples can create and maintain a meaningful connection throughout the year by practicing their own special rituals on a regular basis. Whether it’s going on a date night once a week or sharing a cup of coffee and the newspaper in the morning or going to the farmers market every Saturday, rituals help us develop closeness and create shared meaning in our lives. Consider creating a day of “love” beyond this Valentine’s Day!
Bruess, C. J. S., & Pearson, J. C. (1997). Interpersonal rituals in marriage and adult friendship. Communication Monographs, 64, 25-46.
Bruess, C. J. S., & Pearson, J. C. (2002). The function of mundane ritualizing in adult friendship and marriage. Communication Research Reports, 19, 314-326.
Canary, D. J., Stafford, L., Hause, K. S., & Wallace, L. A. (1993). An inductive analysis of relational maintenance strategies: Comparisons among lovers, relatives, friends, and others. Communication Research Reports, 10, 5-14.
Pearson, J. C., Child, J. T. and Carmon, A., 2008-05-22 "Rituals in Dating Relationships: The Development and Validation of a Measure" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, TBA, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Online <PDF>. 2010-01-23 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p232769_index.html