Wedded to a routine: Couples base their decision to marry on ‘rituals’ like Sunday dinner with the parents or Friday date nights — not spontaneous romantic acts, study finds
- Researchers from the US surveyed 58 couples about their ongoing relationships
- They found routine events allow regular time to review a partner’s behaviour
- This information is what partners use to decide whether to commit to marriage
Little rituals like weekly date nights or having Sunday dinner with the parents are what dating couples use to decide whether to marry — not grand romantic gestures.
Researchers from the US interviewed dating couples and found that regular, shared experiences are key in allowing partners to get to know each other better.
In contrast, romantic getaways and expensive presents may be exciting — but they offer couples less chance to tell whether they want to spend their life with someone.
In contrast, recurring events like movie nights present twosomes with opportunities to witness each other’s everyday habits and behaviours.
Little rituals like weekly date nights or having Sunday dinner with the parents are what dating couples use to decide whether to marry — not grand romantic gestures
In their study, human development researcher Chris Maniotes of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and colleagues surveyed 58 couples in the southwest of the US who had been dating for an average of two-and-a-half years.
The team found that those couples who took part in rituals and routines saw their commitment to marriage rise or fall as a result.
Rituals could be once a year events — such as Christmas, Easter or other holidays — or weekly practices, such as Sunday lunch with a partner’s parents or making Friday evenings ‘movie night’, the researchers explained.
‘Rituals have the power to bond individuals and give us a preview into family life and couple life,’ Mr Maniotes explained.
‘We found they help magnify normative relationship experiences,’ he added
‘Rituals provide a unique time to review one’s partner and relationship; you get to see a host of behaviours and interactions that might normally be obscured.’
‘Some of the ways rituals affected commitment to wed with these couples was by altering their view of their partner, giving them a new perspective.’
In some cases, this meant that couples found common bonds that strengthened their relationship — or, alternatively, revealed areas of conflict that indicated that they were not suited to a life-long commitment to each other.
Romantic getaways and expensive presents may be exciting — but they offer daters less of a chance to tell whether they want to spend their life with someone. In contrast, recurring events like movie nights (pictured) present couples with opportunities to witness each other’s everyday habits and behaviours
For couples, spending time with the other person’s family is a good way to see how they handle potential conflict and alternative views, for example.
‘Rituals seem to really play a role in pausing and slowing down individuals, helping them take a better look at their relationship. They help them see “this is who we are as a couple; this is who we are as a family.”,’ Maniotes added.
‘Just recognizing the importance of rituals in our lives — and the magnitude of the role they play can help us integrate them in an intentional way.’
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
WHEN YOU SHOULD BREAK UP WITH YOUR PARTNER
Kale Monk, assistant professor of human development and family science at University of Missouri says on-off relationships are associated with higher rates of abuse, poorer communication and lower levels of commitment.
People in these kinds of relationships should make informed decisions about either staying together once and for all or terminating their relationship.
Here are his top five tips to work out whether it’s the right time to end your relationship –
1. When considering rekindling a relationship that ended or avoiding future breakups, partners should think about the reasons they broke up to determine if there are consistent or persistent issues impacting the relationship.
2. Having explicit conversations about issues that have led to break ups can be helpful, especially if the issues will likely reoccur. If there was ever violence in the relationship, however, or if having a conversation about relationship issues can lead to safety concerns, consider seeking support-services when it is safe to do so.
3. Similar to thinking about the reasons the relationship ended, spend time thinking about the reasons why reconciliation might be an option. Is the reason rooted in commitment and positive feelings, or more about obligations and convenience? The latter reasons are more likely to lead down a path of continual distress.
4. Remember that it is okay to end a toxic relationship. For example, if your relationship is beyond repair, do not feel guilty leaving for your mental or physical well-being.
5. Couples therapy or relationship counselling is not just for partners on the brink of divorce. Even happy dating and married couples can benefit from ‘relationship check-ups’ in order to strengthen the connection between partners and have additional support in approaching relationship transitions.