My husband and I have been happily married for almost 19 years. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but the calendar doesn’t lie. We’ve spent most of our adult life together, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
One of the greatest things about being married a long time is knowing what to expect. While there’s something to be said for surprises and spontaneity, the comfort and calm assurance that the sun will rise and set tomorrow never gets old. We come to count on certain things like clockwork and notice when they’re gone.
My husband recently went on a trip and was gone for five days. Waking up in bed alone is always a little odd after 19 years, but having to get up and make my own coffee straight-up sucks. I’ve gotten incredibly spoiled. My sweet hubby gets up every morning before I do, makes me a latte, and brings it to me in bed.
It’s a ritual I adore, and so does he. I admittedly get the better end of this deal, but he giggles every time he sees my face light up as he hands me my life-giving caffeine. “You’re so cute, all excited for your coffee,” he says.
“You’re the bestest,” I tell him as I give him a kiss and cradle my favorite mug — the red one with the word “Love” typed in small letters on the side — in my hands. It’s filled to the brim, topped with perfect foam and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. It’s the same routine every morning, and it warms me clear down to my toes.
I asked some friends what kinds of habitual things they do in their marriages. The themes of coffee, sleep, and sex appear to be fairly common, and I was tickled by how sweet — and saucy — some couples’ rituals are:
“Every morning, as soon as one of the kids is up, he is the parent on duty. That means I get to sleep for 30 minutes or two hours more depending on the time. He then makes breakfast for all of us and hands me my coffee when I make it downstairs.” –R.A.
“We hold hands when we are in the car. This was an act led by my husband, and in the beginning, it challenged my need for space. After 16 years, I’m so glad I never discouraged it.”–H.S.
“My husband makes dinner every night, and every night I tell him it’s the best dinner I’ve had in the past 24 hours. He makes the coffee every morning, and every morning I tell him it’s the best coffee I’ve had that day. We watch a show together (Netflix or Hulu) every night as we eat dinner, all the better if it’s a Project Runway–type show so that we can carefully dissect crappy construction.” –J.P.
“Nooners…we call them ‘marriage meetings.’ That’s our code in front of the kids: ‘Hey honey, I think we need to set up a marriage meeting. Maybe tomorrow?’ *wink wink* He comes home for lunch every day.” –C.C.
“Almost every night he is home, he rubs my feet, and then I let him poke me.” –S.G.
“We track our orgasms in a journal. We keep it on the bedside table. Codes for how we came. Double points for coming together.” –A.W.
“We do movie and pizza night every Friday. I make the dough and leave it for him. He makes the pie when he gets home from work.” –M.S.
“My husband gets the kids out of the house on Sunday mornings. Usually, I use the time to clean, but it also allows me to sleep in. He brings them home fed, then tags out, and takes a nap while I cook with them. Also (goopy alert), I ask if he loves me, and he says, “yes.” I ask him how much, and he says, “plenty.” I ask him how much is plenty, and he says, “enough.” His wedding band is engraved with ‘Plenty and Enough.’” –A.D.
“Our weekly ‘date’ night making dinner together and listening to the radio. No TV.” –R.R.
“My husband massages my feet and legs every night to soothe my RA pain, even on nights when I have no RA pain.” –P.F.
“We go for a walk every day — 15 years now.” –S.H.
“Whenever I arrive home, my husband always comes out to greet me at the car. He doesn’t stay on the computer or couch, but actually gets up and comes outside. I love it.” –S.S.
“Every time my husband goes out of town for work, I hide a card in his suitcase, and every time I go out of town, I hide a card somewhere in the house. I’ve only forgotten once, and he was crushed.” –S.C.
“I startle easily, so whenever my husband enters the room, or comes up behind me, before I can hear him, he says, ‘Anybody home?’ in a sweet melodious voice. We have breakfast together every morning, reading the paper together, pointing out stories, and working on a crossword while watching the ‘outside pets’ — the birds and squirrels.” –M.U.
“My husband makes breakfast and coffee every morning. After the kids are in bed, we pull out the secret chocolate stash, I make tea, and we watch TV. Recently, visiting my parents, I noticed theirs too. My dad is now retired, but wakes up at ungodly hours to make my mom breakfast. Then when she leaves, he walks her to her car so he can carry her tea cup for her.” –J.B.
Of course, relationship rituals are not a requirement for a happy marriage. One of our friends replied that they have been happily married 44 years and don’t have any specific rituals. More power to them. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But for many of us, these little habits we can count on are important. Rituals lend a certain comfort and consistency to married life, and remind us that small kindnesses and connections really can make a difference.