I highly recommend "Take Back Your Marriage" by William Doherty, PhD. The title might lead you to believe that this is meant for marriages that are "on the rocks" but it's for all couples. Even happily married couples can find ways to improve their relationship and buffer it against the destroyer. I am a firm believer that it starts with prioritizing, and creating time for each other.
In this book, Doherty argues that we live in a world that pulls couples apart by competing for our time and energy. He says, "the competitors for our daily time are far more assertive than we are about our marriages (p. 61)." These competitors come in a variety of different forms, such as children, work, hobbies, interests, media, etc. Most of these demands for our time are unavoidable, and many are even "good" pursuits. But when our marriage takes a back seat to less important things, we are at risk of growing apart.
Doherty teaches that the trick is for couples to schedule time for their marriage. He uses the term, "Intentional Marriage" to describe couples who proactively put their spouse first, by creating meaningful rituals that keep them unified and in love. You don't have to remind a newlywed couple to give each other a kiss and say, "I love you" before they say good-bye, or when they meet up again. But through the years, as life becomes more demanding, simple rituals like that can become eroded, and completely extinct in a marriage.
He offers many practical suggestions on how couples can create meaningful rituals into their daily, weekly, and yearly schedules. He gives great examples of marital rituals from couples he has met. When it comes down to it, couples often create rituals that are unique and meaningful for them.
As life gets busier and busier, I would hate to see those little things slip away from us. Even now, I am aware of areas that we can improve in. I can think of love rituals we started out with that occur less often. I want my husband to always know that my heart is with him. I want to maintain the closeness that we have. I'm determined to "be" with him more when we are together, and save my tasks and social media for when we are apart. Thanks to this book, I have a renewed determination to give more to my marriage and less to everyone else (no offense, everyone else!).
What marital rituals are most meaningful to you? Please share if it's not too personal.
Also, consider: What are the rituals you used to have, but no longer do? What would it take to start those up again?