Putting problems to bed

Putting problems to bed couple ritual

We all have concerns and sometimes they’ll keep us up at night.  Talking about them helps, as does initiating at least some kind of action toward a solution or amelioration, but eventually there may be little left to say or do and yet the worry remains.  Because many couples realize that worrying borrows from the future and steals from the present, they have developed rituals to keep distressing thoughts from the bedroom.  Practicing either form of the ritual I describe here may lighten your load because of  its playfulness, and I bet you’ll find one or the other appealing.

In Guatemala and Mexico, people use Worry Dolls.  When they tell the doll all their problems and worries, they can go to sleep knowing that the doll will stay up all night and do their worrying for them.  Any little doll or stuffed animal will do.  Sit down with your mate right before bed and take turns telling your doll all of your worries.  Place the dolls on the dresser or by your pillows and then perhaps try the cuddling or reading rituals.

Along the same lines, take a moment to write your worries down on paper and put it inside a wooden box.  Lock or seal the box and place it outside the bedroom or even the house. 

For those who might want to use the worry doll ritual with their children, here’s a word of caution.  Children are apt to believe that the worry doll is actually doing some magic, which would be comforting.  The problem with that line of thinking is that it puts the focus of working on a problem (either a course of action or a personal mindset) outside oneself.  Psychologists call that an external locus of control.  Such a mindset creates even more problems in people’s lives because they don’t see themselves as agents in control of what happens.  Using the worry doll ritual as a way of temporarily letting go and getting some sleep is fine, but not if you or your kids kind of believe that the doll has any power or responsibility to solve those problems. 



How to make a worry doll

  1. Take five Popsicle sticks and cut 1/3 off of three of them.  Glue the 3 two-thirds pieces together to form the torso. 
  2. Cut the two remaining whole sticks in half.  The four pieces are the arms and legs.  Glue them on with the legs at a slightly open stance and the arms almost straight out.
  3. Use the 3 small 1/3 pieces to make the head by fanning them out a little bit and gluing them to the top of the torso. 
  4. Wrap yarn around the small stick figure.  To make a better worry doll, use different colors for the legs, arms, torso, and head. 
  5. Use a marker to add some detail like eyes and hair. 
  6. A lot of worry dolls are even made from matchsticks!





Principal Purposes Served

  • Foster trust
  • Manage conflict
  • Emotional money in the bank