Writing and Talking

Writing

Noteworthy

Brief notes left in various places are quick little reminders of your connection and relationship…

Journals

Yup, the written word that documents/describes/remembers/celebrates the relationship.

Talking

Worth 1000 Words

Somewhere between infanthood and toddler land, an important switch in the brain goes off…

Tea or Coffee Ritual

The Japanese have an elaborate tea ritual…

Morning or Evening Walk

Simple. And, one of the most common and meaningful rituals couples report…

Calling on Love

This couple ritual is different from e-mails, texts, chat, or other written forms…

Stargazing

Stargazing in a special place is a favorite…

Noteworthy

Brief notes left in various places are quick little reminders of your connection and relationship.  The subject of the note is usually one of support for what is going on, a general note of love, a portion of a song, a quote, drawing, or a compliment.  Most keep their notes, and one couple mentioned that they still had them all.

In terms of the time to do it, a poignant note by one couple was imagining saying to the other “I didn’t take 5 minutes out of the day important enough to write you.”  They couldn’t imagine saying/doing that, so they wrote notes to one another . . . NOW, it is important to offer the notes from heart desire, not fear or obligation, but you get the point of the sentiment.

Some frequent places notes are left include: 

  • in the lunch bag
  • on the refrigerator
  • by the phone
  • on the pillow
  • on a whiteboard in the garage
  • in the car
  • on computer
  • in pocket of clothing
  • on the desk
  • on the bathroom mirror

Mediums

  • On surfaces that support it, a dry-erase maker makes a lovely tool.  For example, writing on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator itself, or obviously a whiteboard, are very common ways of leaving notes.
  • Also, in the bathroom, a clever trick is to clean the mirror, and then “write” on it with soap . . . when the steam from a shower/bath fill the room, the message will become clear.
  • Another clever medium is to “write” on paper using lemon juice, which can be seen when the paper is held up to a bright light source.
  • Finally, using tracing paper, a note can be written normally, and then photocopied . . . the resulting copy will be mirrored, and the only convenient way to read the note is by holding it up to a mirror.  This is especially clever, as the person reading the note is also simultaneously watching their own expression as they read what you’ve written.

Variations

  • Some couples write notes to each other throughout the week with the time and date on them.  They present them to each other at the end of the week over a special end-of-the-week candlelight dinner.
  • E-mail and instant messaging are common modern adaptations of this ritual, although even couples who do this will often admit that the power of a hand-written note or card is still more meaningful.  Sending a message at a particular time of day, so that you know you are being though of, is a common form of this ritual.  Likewise, before a big event/meeting, sending a message of support is common.
  • Although not technically a written note, a common adaptation of this ritual is the talking note.  Smart phones and tablets can record messages, and those can be e-mailed to the other at a chosen time.  People call and leave messages on voice mail as well if they know the other won’t pick up.  Handheld recorders used to be common, yet they are slowing dying out as a medium.
  • Hide and seek / scavenger hunt – a series of notes to the main note!

Principal Purposes Served

  • Create stable touchstones
  • Build the relationship culture and history
  • Communicate values and beliefs
  • Provide regular opportunities for play
  • Emotional money in the bank
  • Fulfill needs for predictability and novelty

Journals

Yup, the written word that documents/describes/remembers/celebrates the relationship.

The variations here revolve around medium, content, and timing, each detailed below.  In addition, couples sometimes add semi-static elements/lists at the beginning like pet names, how you know you love each other, or a list of things you’ve done together.

Medium:

  • Physical journal (the leather bound ones with tassel “binding” are special)
  • Calendar (writing in the squares)
    • Calendars are often used as sort of journal rituals.  Special times – actual or mental – are noted and kept as a log.  Some couple attach paper to the back of the calendar to add further thoughts if the inspiration so strikes them.  The choosing of the calendar is usually a mini-ritual in and of itself (selecting the pictures, where and how the shopping is done, etc.).
  • E-mail (texts/tweets are too short to hold a journal-like quality, but can serve other connecting purposes)
  • Scrapbook, physical or digital (like uploading to Pinterest or Instagram or Picasa).
  • Mailed letters
  • Little cards, or pictures printed and turned into postcards.
  • Long scroll was also used, and each person would continue to write where the other had left off

Content:

  • Joys
  • Personal delights
  • Special plan ideas
  • Things that were appreciated
  • An event attended together
  • Hopes
  • Dreams
  • A mourning to be remembered
  • What you are grateful for
  • A little love note

Time span:

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • When inspired (random, but not less than monthly)

As a special case, some couples reported using writing as a means to express their thoughts and feelings around something(s) that is troubling them in the relationship.  It was essentially a conversation that occurred in writing, allowing for some time to pass to digest what was being expressed.  Such a use (and tool) is to be undertaken with great caution as it largely exits the realm of being a couple ritual, as well as being a form of expression that is near the end of the rope.  Likewise, writing can take an air of things “said” that would not be said in the presence of the other.  See the education section of the website for powerful ways to engage with feelings, needs, and strategies.

Principal Purposes Served

  • Create stable touchstones
  • Build the relationship culture and history
  • Emotional money in the bank

Worth 1000 Words

Somewhere between infanthood and toddler land, an important switch in the brain goes off.  All of a sudden, children understand that all those sounds are actually, gasp, symbols!  They mean something!  They stand for something else!  This is quite a nifty discovery and it seems we never really outgrow our fascination with language as a symbol.

Older children often experiment with Pig Latin or Double Dutch (a.k.a. Ubbi-Dubbi) so that they can talk to one another in private.  If two children in a classroom speak German and the others don’t, you’ll be able to catch them speaking to each other in their private code – German.  Twins often invent a private language as well, which is often developed before the children’s native tongue.

Although adults don’t like to think of themselves as children, they haven’t outgrown their fascination and playful relationship with language either.  Esperanto has been one of the major attempts by adults to create a unique language.  Interestingly, the Klingon language (from the TV series Star Trek) has more speaking members than Esperanto.  Go figure.  Lately, we have developed a number of more specialized languages like acronyms (e.g., RSVP, KISS, ASAP), computer speak (e.g., IP, Java, Flash, HTML), e-mail lingo (e.g., BTW, J, LOL), and sports lingo (e.g. for cricket: stumps, bails, bowling crease).

There are many reasons human beings are so fascinated with languages and codes, but one of them is the desire to communicate that we belong together and share something special.  Our unique symbols differentiate us from those who don’t share them and make us feel understood.  Just think how good it must feel when you meet someone in a foreign country who shares your language!  A common language says that we are alike and belong together.

Nowhere is that more true than between two people who love each other.  They needn’t be twins to develop a unique language or code that only they understand.  It helps them feel and reinforce the special bond they have.  A brief ritual phrase that expresses love, intimacy, commitment, or some other meaning can be your special cue/saying/expression that speaks a thousand words in just a few.  Naturally, this tends to be unique to each couple and would have little meaning to anyone overhearing it.  Sometimes it’s a form of nonverbal communication like a written symbol or a hand signal, or actual sign language.  One couple liked to use brief signs because, they said, words alone could never express their love for each other and having a nonverbal symbol conveyed that sentiment.

Following are some examples for illustration.  Your own unique phrases and symbols will come to be during your relationship.  As you’ll see, they are usually derived from some wonderful, funny, intimate, shared experience that later gets ritualized.

Signs of unique relationship

  • Ferret paw print

Both partners really loved ferrets, but because of living arrangements, couldn’t have them anymore.  They loved the playful spirit and constant good nature in their pets as well as each other.  To symbolize that, they always signed notes to each other with a ferret paw print.

  • Nose jousting

A couple from Northern Alaska used to “Eskimo kiss” (rub noses) sometimes for practical reasons.  When they moved to California, they continued to do it every now and then.  Later, the guy wanted to quit and just do some nice, regular kissing, but she still wanted to Eskimo kiss sometimes.  He would try and dodge her and get in a normal kiss, which turned into a funny game of nose jousting.  Now, they do both, but they will sometimes nose joust as well, which they assured me got plenty of strange looks in public, but was extra fun and meaningful for them.

Bids for intimacy

  • Shower

When a couple’s parrot was left alone for too long, she would start shouting “Shower!”  The parrot enjoyed the shower ritual, which included a lot of play time and holding as well as the pleasure of warm water.  So when her owners were in different parts of the house and wanted a hug or to be together, one would parrot the bird and start shouting, “Shower!”  The other person would come running and “shower” the lonely one with hugs and kisses.

  • Bring the past to the present

A much-traveled couple had quite a few magic words at their disposal.  All one of them had to say was, “Costa Rica” or “the salt baths” and it would conjure up a wonderful shared moment.  It was an invitation to recreate it right there and then with a pleasant drink or a quick picnic. You can imagine what a wonderful feeling it created for both of them.

  • Hot stuff

When the woman wanted a lot of hugging and kissing, she would turn up the heat wherever they were . . . the car heater, the fire place (even in the summer), the hot tub, or the house heater.  When her mate noticed the heat, he knew what it meant.

Expression of love

  • Kiss from afar

It’s simple really.  When in a public space and far apart, couples will often shoot each other a quick kiss and a smile to say I love you.
Similarly, a hand over the heart, touching a certain spot (like earlobe), or the actual sign-language sign for love, served the same purpose.

  • As you wish

Something from a movie, play or TV show frequently becomes a fun catch phrase for partners.  In the popular movie “The Princess Bride,” the main character says, “As you wish” when he means I love you.  That phrase has great symbolism in the movie and more than a few couples reported answering requests for something with “As you wish.”  It would bring a smile to their faces.

  • Silent gazing

Nothing is said.  Take 5 minutes and gaze into one another’s eyes.  Couples will often do this to the length of a song, and also often with a candle lit.  So that it has the recurring element, a certain day of the week is usually chosen, like a Friday.

Help me!

  • Blink in a special way to indicate that one wants to get out of a conversation or situation.
  • A specific word, like “interesting,” especially if it is said in a certain tone/cadence/manner.
  • Stand in a certain way, or tapping of one’s foot, or generally holding one’s body in a certain manner.

Principle Purposes Served

  • Build the relationship culture and history
  • Communicate values and beliefs
  • Put emotional money in the bank
  • Fosters nurturing, affectionate, loving contact

Tea or Coffee Ritual

The Japanese have an elaborate tea ritual, which is too complex to do justice to here.  It has compound religious, philosophical, and aesthetic connotations.  Short of that level of ritual/tradition/ceremony, couples taking time around a drink to be together is one of the most common rituals noted.

Couples can sometimes use these drinks to symbolize couple time to talk and purposefully be together and connect.  Simply being in one another’s presence generally doesn’t meet the criteria of more meaningful time together.

To create that kind of time, the tea or coffee (or hot chocolate) create a cue that the time has begun.  Since these are popular drinks, additional cues help differentiate the couple-time tea as special.  Those symbols might be a special location (in the home, or at a coffee shop), special mugs, or a certain time of day.  Lighting a candle has also been mentioned numerous times.

Other variations

  • Going to a bookstore that has a café and having a drink after browsing for a while
  • Listening to music outside (or inside the house), while having a nice drink.

Principal Purposes Served

  • Create stable touchstones
  • Build the relationship culture and history
  • Communicate values and beliefs
  • Emotional money in the bank

Morning or Evening Walk

Simple.  And, one of the most common and meaningful rituals couples report.  Simplicity is also beautiful.  The walk can, of course, take place at any time of the day, and be any normal or unusual route.  Perhaps it is around the home, or a favorite spot nearby, or a hike that happens more rarely for a longer period of time.  Perhaps it is with a dog.  One couple that loved museums would have their couple-walking time together while slowly pacing the halls of various art exhibits.  Another would walk whenever it snowed in the winter, or whenever the sun was out during the Spring and Summer as extra walks.

What doesn’t hit the mark as well is walking with a friend(s), or with children, as the focus is not as squarely on the couple, which is the point/purpose of a couple ritual.  Those kind of walks can meet other valuable needs, however.

Caveat:  Rituals are difficult to be positively enriching/meaningful when the center is a problem, issue, or around logistics.  Walks can be taken for those reasons, but it is also important to have walks where the purpose is to connect and nurture the relationship.  If walks take on both roles, try taking along a symbol (e.g., walking sticks, the dog, special shirts, or arm bands) that identifies couple-special-time walks as different.

Principal Purposes Served

  • Create stable touchstones
  • Manage conflict
  • Emotional money in the bank

Calling on Love

This couple ritual is different from e-mails, texts, chat, or other written forms, as it involves actually speaking to one another live while not in the same room together.

Variations of phone version

  • Call on the phone at a specific time every day simply to say I love you, and nothing else.
  • Calling at a certain time every day to talk for a little while is also a ritual used by many couples.  It is often more potent if the conversation is kept to the positive aspects of the relationship and nice plans, instead of the details of life or problems.
  • Call and offer one complement and then say goodbye.

 

Another quality of this ritual tends to be actually calling for one another when the couple is in the same general space, but they don’t know where the other one is exactly, or if they are in ear shot.

Variations of call-and-response version

  • Bat!  The other would reply Moth!
  • Whistling a tune, and the other would either repeat it, or continue the tune’s next phrase.  When one couple met, they would try and kiss while still whistling, invariably laugh, and that was that.
  • A series of claps
  • A low whistle
  • Clicking noise

Timing:

  • Specific hour of the day
  • A married couple with children chose to talk to each other when the man was driving home from work.  That was their time when the kids weren’t the discussion or distraction.

Principal Purposes Served

  • Create stable touchstones
  • Build the relationship culture and history
  • Communicate values and beliefs
  • Foster trust
  • Emotional money in the bank

Stargazing

Stargazing in a special place is a favorite.

Things to make it more special include:

  • Stuff to make it physically comfortable (e.g., blankets, mosquito nets, etc.)
  • Favorite drinks
  • Strawberries + liquid chocolate for dipping
  • Some very soft, low music
  • Hot tub or hot springs with view of the night sky
  • If talking and cuddling isn’t part of the ritual, books, binoculars, or telescopes can make it more of a joint hobby connection time.

Tools to help with technical knowledge, if that is important to you:

  • Apps
    • The Night Sky
    • Google Sky
    • SkyWeek
  • Red flashlight to protect night vision
  • Celestron SkyMaster 20×80 Binoculars
  • Orion 10013 GoScope 80mm TableTop Refractor Telescope
  • NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe
  • The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide

Web stuff to help set the tone of the vastness/mystery of the universe:

Principal Purposes Served

  • Create stable touchstones
  • Emotional money in the bank
  • Foster nurturing, affectionate, loving contact