Rituals, Better Than a Resolution


With the best of intentions, I often hear couples proclaim resolutions:

“I’m going to be more thoughtful.”

“I’m going to plan a monthly date night.”

“I’m going to initiate intimacy more often.”


These types of resolutions, or goals, are excellent compasses. They give you a direction, but they don’t offer a map on how to get there. In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear uses this metaphor of the goal-compass to help readers understand that being committed to the path you’re walking (in the direction of your goal) leads to a deeper change within– it’s not the goal itself that is the change. 


In other words, dedication to staying the path– keeping focused on one foot in front of the other (small habits)-- is what produces the change you’re truly seeking.


Clear writes, “The goal is your direction, not your destination. The goal is a mission that you are on, a path that you follow. Whatever comes from that path—whatever treasure you happen to find along this journey—well, that’s just fine. It is the commitment to walking the path that matters.”


Sure, we want to be more thoughtful. We want that monthly date night or to connect with intimacy more often. However, committing to the path– focusing on building the type of relationship that yields those goals– is what really matters. The results will follow.


This is why I say that rituals are better than resolutions.


Think back to the early days of your relationship. How did you greet each other? How did you part from each other after a date or before leaving for work? What was the last thing you said before going to bed, or your first interaction when you woke up?


If these little rituals faded with time, then they’re a great place to start. If you want a more intimate relationship, start with giving your partner a kiss and saying “I love you” each night before bed. If you want a more thoughtful relationship, have their favourite coffee cup set out next to the coffee maker before you head out to work…whatever you did when things were fresh, start by reinstating that ritual.


We know that a strong relationship is not built on large ticket items like vacations, fancy dinners out, or big gifts. Instead, they are developed based on the small moments every single day. We need these moments to continue to feel connected and bonded.


I want you to think of one thing you can do in the morning to create an intentional moment of connection. The mornings are when we set the tone for the day, which is why they’re a great place to focus before branching out to stack more relationship rituals throughout your day.


Examples: Before picking up your phones, could you reach for your partner and take ten minutes before anything else? Or, if you are up at different times when the other person wakes, can you go and greet them with a 30-second hug? 


Coming up with rituals unique to your own relationship can be fun! While focusing on resolutions may feel lofty or pressure-filled (What if I drop the ball??), implementing rituals is quick and easy– and makes all the difference.



Dr. Tracy