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Two Tips for Connection  

I recently read a story a woman wrote about an experience early in her marriage that led to a regular habit for her and her husband that she believes has helped their marriage a great deal. She and her husband of six weeks had been taking a cab ride and having an argument. A civilized argument, but an argument nevertheless. Their cab driver asked how long they had been married and when they told him, exclaimed at how young their marriage was.

He then started singing, made some comments about the differences between songs in this country and the country he had come from (Senegal). He also offered some marital advice. He told them they needed to sing together. The woman said she was tone deaf and her husband was not much better, and they offered that as a reason to not comply. The cabby persisted. He said it didn’t matter whether they sang well, or even what they sang, it was just important that they sang together. He said they could even sing the ABC song and then started it, goading them to carry it on.

Somehow the couple took that to heart. My guess is they probably just thought it silly and decided to laugh about it occasionally. But now they sing the ABC song together every Saturday morning when they get up and start their weekend. They never really made an agreement to do this; it was just something that started happening. The woman said it sets a good tone for their weekend and she believes it has been a beneficial thing to their marriage.

You may say this is a silly story but I believe there are a couple of good lessons to be learned from it. The first is that humor is good for relationships. You can bet that this couple’s weekly singing of the ABC song is accompanied by laughter. I’m sure they remember the story of how it started, which is funny, and can’t help laughing at themselves and each other because of the silliness of singing the ABC song and, probably, the awfulness of their singing. It is an important enough lesson that you might want to think about bringing humor into your own relationship, and doing it in a conscious, planned way.

The second lesson is that ritual can be good for connection. We tend to think of ritual in terms of serious things we do to mark solemn occasions, but small meaningful things we do together are also rituals. When couples have little practices they do that are symbolic for them, or that bring about memories of significant experience for them, those practices, those rituals, serve to bring them together. What are you already doing, or what can you start doing, that will serve this function for you in your relationship?