Our family's rituals of connection

Hellos and goodbyes are part of our family's rituals of connection.  They say "You are important to me." Each family has their own unique rituals that are important to them.  If we are unsure of what rituals we want for our family, we can make some up!  Here's a great resource to help us to do that: the rituals of connection card deck in the Gottman Card Decks app.  

Instructions (from the app): "Select a card and discuss whether you would like to incorporate the ritual in your relationship, and if so, exactly how it should go, who should do what and when, and how it should end. Be sure to talk about if and why this is important to you, and how this ritual was handled (or mishandled) in your family or in previous relationships."

Purposeful hellos

What does a great "hello" look like to your family members?  A warm hug?  A kiss?  Words of affirmation?  What says to them "You are special to me. I missed you. You matter."? Do they need a few minutes to unwind or do they need to connect right away?  

Appreciation: a key to being heard

According to Dr. Gottman’s research, the masters of relationship had 20 times more positive interactions than negative interactions during everyday interactions, and five times more positive than negative interactions during times of conflict.  Our ratio of positive to negative interactions is strong when our relationships are full of fondness, affection, gratitude and humor.  When we create rituals that build gratitude and affection for one another, we are putting our relationship in what Dr. Gottman calls “the positive perspective”. When our relationships are in the positive perspective, we are more able to hear our partner’s needs. 

When expressing our needs, it can be helpful to include what we appreciate and what we admire about the other person. When we express that, we can help our partner be able to hear us.  

When we are deeply entrenched in the negative perspective, or when our needs have been building up, it can be hard to stop and express appreciation. In his book Love and Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs describes this pattern as “the crazy cycle.” He says that when a man feels disrespected, he responds without love. When a woman feels unloved, she responds without respect.  He says that the one who considers him/herself more mature should be the one who takes the first step towards expressing love and respect.