A wife doesn’t make a life; a couple does. Reading Judith Warner’s The Opt-Out Generation Opts Back In in Sunday’s New York Times, I wondered about the thousands of pivotal moments missing from the article. I’m talking about the quick chat over morning coffee, a glass of wine together while kids do homework, or late-night pillow talk — when partners renew their intimate bond. I can’t think of more powerful tools for couples navigating the multiple worlds of relationship, work and kids.
Often these moments are unspoken — an instant brushing past each other in the kitchen, a love tap on the butt, a kiss. They are a chance for partners to appreciate each other: “Not surprised you’re up for a promotion.” “Thanks for cleaning up the kitchen after the baking-soda volcano project.” “You smell great.” Those intimate moments “stolen” from life’s busyness become a nurturing part of the day’s rhythm.
Over the years these daily rituals of connection knit couples together. They are a touchstone where — despite life’s pressures and the inevitable missteps — partners stay in touch with each other’s struggles, values and longings. Life is busy and conflict inevitable, but partners who tend to this rhythm don’t end up feeling like strangers. Along with the daily “calendar check” and the weekly “business meeting” I recommend to couples so that they can sort out the details of dual careers, kids and household management, everyday rituals are the foundation of a conscious marriage. Work-life integration — and the decisions, big and small, that sustain it — become a never-ending couple task, an ongoing partner project whose wellspring is daily intimate connection.