For the last eight years, my wife Renee and I have engaged in a ritual, nearly every single day. It is very rare we miss it, and the performance of this ritual is, I am fully convinced, the reason we have stayed married. This ritual grounds us, centers our priorities and allows us to be vulnerable and open in front of each other as we live out our values.
We eat dinner together every night.
Nearly every night, with rare exception, it goes like this: One of us will cook (For years it was always me, then it was mostly her, and now it is mostly me again), we will set the table with plates and napkins and silverware, we will get the pitcher of iced tea out of the refrigerator and fill the glasses with ice, put some music on and then we will eat together. Like a family.
I didn’t have a clue this was actually pretty rare until quite recently. Then I started talking to people and learned that many people eat in front of the TV, or eat different meals at different times, or have their phones out during the meals, or any other number of schemes I have heard about.
Here is the thing: This is one of the most important things we do in our marriage. We are both introverts. I have a very extroverted job. I am an early riser who is generally in bed by 10 and she is a night owl whose idea of morning is 10AM. I am a writer. She is a photographer. It is very possible for us to spend a Saturday together and say less than 20 words all day.
But every night we hold this intentional space where we can share (or not) what we are thinking, what our days were like, what we are thinking about, what our dreams look like. Some days it is nonstop talking for 90 minutes. Some days it is quiet, as we smile at the cats’ antics and listen to the music and just enjoy being in the presence of each other.
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I am a big believer in rituals. I have written pretty extensively about the power of rituals in this essay.