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Rituals help expand the experience of normative relationships

Rituals centered around holidays and other celebrations play an important role in relationships. When dating couples engage in rituals together, they learn more about each other. And these experiences could serve as a tool for diagnosing where the relationship is heading, a study from the University of Illinois shows.

“Rituals have the power to connect individuals and provide previews of family and couple life. We have found that rituals help expand the experience of normative relationships,” said U. Chris Maniotes, a graduate student in the Development and Family Research Division (HDFS), said.Me and the lead author of the paper Journal of social and personal relationships.

Ritual is an experience shared with others and affects communication between individuals. Rituals are usually celebrations such as holidays, but they can also be unusual events created by couples, such as Friday movie nights. Most rituals are recurring events, but some (such as rites of passage) occur only once in a person’s life. Rituals have everyday elements, but they have symbolic meanings that go beyond everyday interactions.

“The ritual provides a unique time to confirm the relationship with our partner. We can see many behaviors and interactions that can usually be obscured,” says Maniots. .. “Some of the ways the rituals influenced their commitment to marrying these couples were to change the perspective of their partners and give them a new perspective.”

Maniot and co-authors HDFS researchers Brian Ogolsky and Jennifer Hardesty analyzed a detailed interview with 48 individuals (24 couples) in the South West region of the United States. Respondents averaged 23 years old and had a relationship for 2.5 years. They were randomly selected from a large study investigating the nine-month marriage efforts of heterosexual dating couples.

For this study, researchers investigated the effects of rituals. They found that commitment to water could increase or decrease, depending on the nature of the interaction. Rituals can strengthen ties and strengthen commitments, but they can also introduce conflict areas and reduce the likelihood that people will see a relationship heading for marriage.

For example, a holiday celebration with a ritual can emphasize interaction with a large family and provide a window on how people navigate conflicts.

The rituals seem to actually play a role in pausing and slowing down individuals, helping them to see their relationship better. They help them see,’This is who we are as a couple. This is what our family looks like. “

Chris Maniotes, a graduate student at the U of I Graduate School of Human Development and Family (HDFS)

The ritual may not be the driving force in deciding where the relationship is heading, but it does bring important nuances that influence the couple’s decision to marry, along with the constellations of experience and action.

Dating couples can benefit from understanding how rituals affect their relationships. This is even more important with the current COVID-19 restrictions, where the rituals we take for granted are difficult to predict, says Maniots.

“Just recognizing the importance of rituals in our lives and the magnitude of the role they play will help us to integrate them in a deliberate way,” he concludes.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is located at the University of Illinois, University of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.


University of Illinois Faculty of Agriculture, Consumers and Environmental Sciences

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