Think back to when you were newlyweds - bedtime was exciting, looked forward to, and special. Fast forward ten, twenty, or forty years later, and you may have unintentionally slipped into some bedtime habits that aren't helping your marriage. In fact, they may be hurting it. Do you and your spouse go to bed at different times? Spend time surfing the internet or social media on your phones instead of connecting, or sleep in different rooms from time to time?
If so, these simple bedtime ritual ideas will help you create the intentionality your marriage may be craving. In the book, The Intentional Family, William J. Doherty suggests that "...Going to bed together is one of the defining activities of a married...couple." He goes on to say that "The reality is that many couples, particularly after they have children, lose the connection with each other at the end of the day." (The Intentional Family, p. 46-47)
Ritualizing your bedtime routine will offer you and your spouse opportunities for communication, closeness, cuddling, and more. Just think of it, you go to bed every single night. Night after night, and year after year. With a few simple suggestions, you can turn the norm into something that benefits and strengthens your marriage. Give it a try, you know you need to. Try one of these seven tips this week to help you and your spouse create bedtime rituals that will nurture your marriage.
1. Have a set bedtime.
It seems like a pretty simple suggestion, right? It works for the kids, but you may think you are too old for that sort of thing. Think again. Having a set bedtime creates predictability around your bedtime routine. When both you and your spouse know that lights out are at 11:30pm, for example, then you have the start of a bedtime ritual in place already. You can then improve that bedtime ritual by setting other boundaries to protect the sacred time that should be yours in the hours before bed.
***We recognize that some people are night-owls and others like to go to bed early. If you and your spouse are opposites, compromise and set an "evening routine," that gives you the opportunity to do all of the things below, while still allowing you to go to bed at different times. For example, you may decide that from 9:00-10:30pm, you are together in your bedroom, talking, cuddling, thinking, and perhaps making love. Then, if someone decides to go to bed at 10:30pm and the other spouse decides to stay up until 12:30am, at least you haven't missed the special chance for connecting that the hours before bed offer you.
2. Set boundaries for technology.
Make your bedroom a sacred place. Decide on a time when technology is turned off in the bedroom. If we are using the 11:30pm bedtime suggested above, perhaps 10:30pm is a good time to turn technology off. That means no TV, no phones, no laptops, etc. We're not saying that positive things don't happen when you cuddle in bed and watch the news, but if you don't set boundaries for yourself, it is too easy to waste hours on technology and therefore, miss some of the most precious time you could be spending with your spouse on a daily basis.
3. Make time to talk.
In the time leading up to bedtime, create a ritual of talking about positive things together for at least ten minutes. Some couples like to have "pillow talk" and lay in bed with the lights off, cuddling and just talking. Others prefer to just lounge on the bed, before lights out, and to have some catch up time. Others still like to talk while they scratch each other's backs or or give each other massages. Whatever you choose to do, make time to talk for at least ten minutes together before bed. Bedtime offers the perfect time to actually have time to talk, as husband and wife, after the hustle and bustle of busy days. Husbands, take note, creating a talk ritual will help meet your wife's emotional needs and make her feel closer to you and more likely to want to express her love to you in physical ways.
4. Create time and space to make love.
The power of cherishing and protecting your bedtime rituals is that you create time and space for sex. Some couples actually like to schedule sex and determine that on Wednesdays and Saturdays they are both ready for it, and looking forward to it. Others like a more spontaneous approach. Whatever the case may be, following some of the rituals above will ensure that neither of you are too exhausted for sex, and that you have already done a few things to feel closer together as a couple...which naturally may lead to making love as a couple. One tip we like to offer couples is to make love first thing when you go in your bedroom for the night - instead of the last thing after teeth are brushed, lights are out, and you are both tired and exhausted. Just a thought to consider...
5. Create quiet time for prayer, meditation, reflection, or words of affirmation.
Whether you are religious or not, bedtime offers time for couples to reflect on deeper things, to pray, or to affirm each other and/or give thanks for each other. It feels pretty incredible to hear your spouse say five things they love about you after a long day, or to have some quiet time side-by-side thinking about your goals and dreams, or the things that matter most to you. Some couples find that praying out loud for each other, and giving thanks for each other, strengthens their marriage and helps them feel closer together.
6. Make sure to flirt, laugh, and have fun together.
Spending an hour or two together before bed offers the perfect chance to laugh together, to flirt, or to tease each other in kind ways. Just think of it, getting dressed in pajamas, brushing teeth, flossing, washing faces, showering - doing these side-by-side and day-after-day may seem like nothing, but it offers you a chance for connection and closeness that you may not otherwise have during the day. Some couples like to dance while they brush their teeth, or just laugh about funny things that happened during their day while they wash their faces. Don't make the mistake of getting ready for bed at different times than your spouse (unless they take WAAAAYYY longer than you...in that case you will have to figure something else out!), or you may miss a chance to flirt, tease, and laugh with your spouse, and that would be a sad thing, indeed.
7. Make "I love you," the last thing you say before going to sleep.
Create a ritual that is uniquely yours for right before you go to sleep. Some couples like to hold hands, others like to give each other a quick peck, and some just say, "good night." Create a special phrase that you and your spouse can say to each other right before bed - something that means something to both of you. Then say it every single night. Whatever you choose to say or do immediately before falling asleep, make sure and say, "I love you." Every single night. Those simple words will help you both go to bed feeling close to each other, feeling in love, and feeling ready to take on whatever may come the following day.
Photo Credit: Caitlinn Mahar-Daniels
“A great marriage isn’t something that just happens; it’s something that must be created.”
- Fawn Weaver
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