We are all drawn to reassure.

When someone tells us something that’s hard to hear or that suggests that they’re in pain or upset, it’s natural for us to jump to wanting to fix the issue or to convey that our belief is that everything is (or will be) okay.

But often, when we jump to reassuring or solving, it can feel horrible to the person we love. In sessions, when I ask the person in pain to honestly respond to their partner with how it feels to be reassured, I often hear:

“I’m wrong for feeling this way.”

“You don’t understand.”

“You want me to stop talking about this.”

“You are judging me. (You think I’m silly, stupid, indulgent, crazy…).”

It feels alienating, disconnecting and, sometimes, it can bring up feelings of rejection and shame.


My assignment for you:

The next time someone you love tells you they are hurting, notice your response.

Are you drawn to reassure them?

Do you feel the impulse to tell them that their experience is not your experience?

Do you start problem-solving?

Just try to observe your response – without judgement – and, if you can, take a moment to let your loved one know that you hear them.




Nourish Your Relationship With Relationship Rituals

Not everyone likes routine.

Despite this, most of us have at least one or two that we perform day in and day out. Sleeping on a certain side of the bed, drinking the first morning coffee, visiting certain websites when we turn on the computer. These habitual activities often bring a familiarity, comfort and calm to the day.

Rituals are predictable routines that have meaning. Many people have rituals that have come from family tradition, religion, or happy happenstance. When couples come together, these rituals become part of the partnership. As time moves on, couples usually develop some rituals of their own.

When I work with a couple, I pay close attention to the rituals that seem to be working well – routines that seem easy, inviting and joyful for both partners. Many times, these events have occurred without fanfare and with no knowledge of their growing symbolic meaning. It takes some time thinking through these routines to realize that they’ve quietly become important relationship rituals.



Tip to Thrive: Consciously introduce rituals that feel good into your relationship.

This may mean looking at the rituals you already share and making deliberate efforts to continue them or it may mean discussing some new rituals to establish. With your partner, discuss specific behaviors that you already include when you leave each other’s company. Do you see any routines that feel good for both of you? If yes, think about continuing them with an eye towards what meaning these behaviors hold in your relationship.



One Thing Exercise

Here is a ritual that I’ve seen work well for couples. Try it out and see how it feels. If it doesn’t feel right, try exploring other types of rituals. Remember that it’s important that your and your partner find rituals that make sense for you and your relationship.

  • Step 1: Every time you and your partner part company, both of you can choose to find out one thing that will happen in your partner’s life while you’re apart. One simple phrase that is used each time you leave each other can help signal to you that it’s time to learn this one thing. Here are a few examples:

“What’s one thing you plan to do while we’re apart?”
“Is there one thing you’re looking forward to today?”
“Do you have anything exciting happening this week?”
“What’s the one thing you’re dreading the most this week?”
“Honey, what’s your one thing today?”

  • Step 2: Remember what your partner says for their one thing. Write it down if it helps you remember.


  • Step 3: When you return to each other, ask about the one thing mentioned when parting.  Encourage elaborate answers by asking questions that start with How or What.

“How was your business meeting?”

“What was is like to spend time with your sister?”

“How do you feel about your one thing?”


  • Step 4: Continue doing this for a few weeks and let me know how it turns out!



Why You May Want To Try This Exercise


Relationship rituals help create shared meaning between two partners and present opportunities for connection. When methods of checking in with each other, or noting an event or milestone, are predictable and consistent, partners may experience less relationship anxiety. In couples that are disconnected, planned rituals offer deliberate and focused ways on reconnecting.

As always, feel free to email me with any questions about this exercise.