"Rituals in the face of loss can help us feel less grief, rituals with families can make us feel closer, and rituals with our partners can reinforce our commitment to each other," Harvard Business School professor Mike Norton explained on HBR recently.
He's not the only researcher to praise the power of small, often non-religious rituals. Studies have shown even something as simple as writing down your negative thoughts and tearing them up can make people feel measurably better.
And boy do we need to feel better at the moment. Rituals can help you and your partner not kill each other during lockdown too.
Sanity-saving rituals for couples during lockdown
Even the most solid and loving relationships are under strain during the current crisis. You've lost the comfort of your old routine and many of your usual coping strategies. Your tension is high and your proximity close. Throw the incredible anxiety of being a business owner into the mix, and you have a recipe for serious strain.
That's why relationship expert and TED speaker Carol Bruess recently took to the TED Ideas blog to offer tips on how to survive lockdown without killing each other. Among her most actionable ideas is developing new rituals that bond you with your partner and help separate the different spheres of your life. She offers several great examples:
The invisibility sweatshirt. Each partner chooses a special sweatshirt. "When the other spouse sees you in it, they have to pretend you are invisible. No talking to them, no looking at them, no asking a question. It's the marriage version of an invisibility cloak, a creative way to build in distance without having to verbally request it," she explains.
The lockdown "commute." Commuting can be miserable but it's also an opportunity to reflect on the day to come and get in the right head space for work. You can recreate the same effect even if you're stuck at home: get dressed for work, pack a lunch, kiss your partner good bye, and then walk around the block (or yard). When you return, it's work time. Do the same thing to get back into "home mode" at the end of the day.
One daily "free pass." None of us are our best selves at the moment. Cut each other a little slack by issuing each partner one daily "free pass." Make two free pass cards. Then, "once a day, you hand it over to your spouse when you've done something stupid, said something mean, or forgotten to do something you promised," explains Bruess.
A reconciliation walk. It's hard not to take the stress of work into the evening with you, especially when there's no physical separation between work and home. So why not take a stroll with your spouse after work each day to talk through any negativity and start your family time with a clean slate?
Create a complaint box. Everyone is more annoying in close quarters, but bombarding your spouse with minor complaints won't help anyone's nerves. Instead, find a box and physically put all your complaints in it each day. At the weekend, when you have a clearer head, you can look through them and see if any are actually worth discussing.
What small rituals have you and your partner developed to get through this stressful time?