Ritual and Spiritual Practices in Relationship- Part 12
Hal and Sidra Stone
We feel that the inclusion of some kind of ritual or spiritual practice is another important aspect of relationship.
These activities are quite personal in nature and will vary greatly from couple to couple. For some, membership in a religious or spiritual organization and taking time to follow the specific practices of this group will work beautifully.
These organizations provide ritual observances that serve a variety of spiritual needs. Going to the church of one’s choice, saying a blessing over one’s food, and keeping the Sabbath are observances that have withstood the test of time. When they are followed wholeheartedly, they bring many couples the truly rewarding spiritual experience they seek.
Other couples find their needs served by spiritual organizations that have their roots in Eastern religions or in the Native American beliefs and ritual observances. Many people have developed their own spiritual practices.
Some couples find that daily meditation together fulfills their needs for joint spiritual activity. Others take time for prayers at a regular time such as at meals, in the morning upon rising, or in the evening before retiring.
Other couples may join groups that come together to observe particular holidays, not in a traditional way but in a spontaneously creative fashion that changes with each observance. There are many groups of this type that are involved in the observance of the full moons, the solstices, and the equinoxes.
The aim of all of these practices is the inclusion of spirit in the relationship.
If we think of relationship as a journey of two souls, then these are some of the rituals or spiritual practices that are designed to invite holy energies to join in the relationship, to sanctify it, to guard it, and to guide it along the appropriate path.
As we have said, these rituals vary greatly from person to person.
It is difficult for us to imagine our own relationship without experiencing it in the context of its spiritual underpinnings. We always know in the good times and the bad times that there is a divine guidance that underlies our connection. We lose it with great regularity, but we find it with the same regularity. Each partnership must seek its own kinds of rituals and observances to sanctify the relationship.
Some of the rituals that can be particularly helpful are very simple ones and may even appear to have little spiritual content. In the more spiritual vein, we have learned to pray out loud together. It was a little embarrassing at first, because personal prayer, as contrasted with the recitation of somebody else’s prayers, is usually a relatively private practice. But once we became accustomed to doing it, we found that it was a very natural way to proceed. It is particularly comforting at those times when we have done just about all we can do for a situation and we feel the need to turn matters over to a higher power.
It is strange how embarrassing it is for most people to admit to their love of God. To admit it out loud is even more extreme. We both feel better for the practice. There are times when things are just too much, and to turn things over to a higher power feels very good. When this happens, invariably some shift takes place within us and in the relationship.
People have created certain rituals to mark the passage of the day. For instance, some begin each morning by making the bed together. For them, this represents a way to end the night and begin the new day. It is a way to separate themselves from the dream world and to enter the material world.
Many people have specific early morning rituals. For some, it can be making coffee or orange juice and bringing it to a loved one. Others bring in the paper and read it together. Still others may have a specific way of trying to wake up the late sleeper. Mornings, particularly, seem to be a time of ritual observance, whether or not these are actually thought of as rituals by the participants.
We have found it particularly helpful to spend time in the morning going over our dreams together and then taking some separate time for personal writing. This directs our first thoughts of the day inward. It gives us each a chance to say hello to ourselves, to get a feeling for what is happening within, and to set our priorities. We can use this time to think of our current situation in a larger perspective.
For many people it is a time for meditation or yoga, and these become very specific spiritual practices. The spiritual process is different for different people and may vary considerably at different times in our lives.
It is important in a relationship to take the time to honor the relationship itself. We think that all relationships need this if the spirit within them is to be kept alive. Spiritual energies need to be able to access the two people in a relationship. We must make room for them, and this means time alone when we are fully open to their presence.
Some couples use their vacations together as a ritual, going each year to a place of spiritual or emotional renewal. This is their way of honoring their relationship. Whether they go to their own summer house or to Hawaii or on a trip to the sacred sites of the ancients, the intent can be the same and the purpose can be equally well served.
Each of us has certain places on the planet that feel sacred to us. It is these spaces that feed us and feed the relationship. We believe that finding the time to be in these places and sharing them with one another adds great richness and spiritual depth to a relationship. We have had many remarkable experiences on trips to sacred places around the planet. We take our time and find our own special spot at each of these places, and then we generally spend many hours sitting there.
We feel that, from time to time, a ritual of renewal of relationship is important. A repetition of vows reestablishes the original intent and directly invites spiritual energies to infuse the relationship anew. There are times when you might feel that a new direction needs to be taken and that you must let go of the current form of the relationship.
At such times, you may find it helpful to actually remove your wedding rings (or, if you have no rings, each take some other object that has special significance to you), bury them in the ground for three days, and then bring them forth and renew your vows with the request that you receive extra guidance on your path.
We have mentioned the process of visualization, the dream process, the “being” state, and learning to access the vulnerable child. Each of these is a way of accessing spiritual energies. As we have said, ritual in relationship and the inclusion of spiritual practices is important but quite personal.
We have given some examples from our own experience as well as others’, but this is something that needs to be developed individually for each relationship.