Soft and furry love

“Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where the women are strong, the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”  In Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, life’s pretty good.  For those of us who don’t live there, life has a few more ups and downs.  At the end of one of those days, this couple ritual can take the edge off the downers and soothe ruffled feathers. You may find it a little silly at first, but give it a chance and you might always want something like it in your life.  Also, remember that customizing couple rituals is highly recommended!  Treat these as inspiration for creating a piece of art that adds beauty and joy to your relationship.  For this ritual, I’ve heard many different flavors, but let me tell you about one of my favorites.

Jack’s wife Shannon loves stuffed animals.  She has a modest collection that tastefully decorates one side of the bedroom. One day Jack was on his way to pick up his favorite sandwich down the block from his office building and passed one of those rows of cart merchants that sell everything from eyeglasses to vitamins.  That day, on a new cart selling mugs and miscellaneous trinkets, a small, stuffed, fuzzy gecko lizard covered with paisley fabric caught his eye.  Six bucks seemed reasonable enough, so he picked it up for his wife, stuffing it in his pocket and heading back to work.

That same afternoon, Jack was forced to summarily fire an employee for stealing company software.  As if that wasn’t stressful enough, he also had to give a presentation to his superiors about cost overruns.  But Jack found that having a hand in his pocket and feeling that gecko reminded him of his wife, which reminded him of her love and of what really mattered.  His stress went down and he was able to perform better. 

When Jack got home, his wife was already back from work.  After a warm hug and kiss she asked the usual question about his day.  Jack put his hands in his pockets and smiled broadly until Shannon finally said, “What?”  He whipped out the gecko and she excitedly went to grab it.  But Jack dodged her and demanded that Shannon ask the gecko how his day had been.  After a moment when she begrudgingly complied, Jack had the gecko relate the day’s events, like the proverbial fly on the wall.  You see, when Jack was little, he loved it when his mother told him stories from his stuffed tiger’s perspective, so this was natural and fun for him.  That’s how this couple ritual was born.

Jack and Shannon kept Zydeco, the gecko, by the keys.  When they were leaving for work in the morning, they would check in to see who was going to take it that day.  Whoever might have the more difficult day would keep Zydeco in a pocket or purse.  Whenever that person felt stressed, s/he would secretly rub it and remember that someone loved them to death, no matter what happened.  After returning from work, the one who didn’t have Zydeco asked if it wanted to talk.  The day’s stresses could then be relayed from the gecko’s perspective, in its voice and with its personality.  Substituting a stuffed animal helped them to not relive the stressful situation, since it was sort of coming from outside the self.  And sometimes, a funny story would sound even more hilarious.

 

Variations

  • Objects for this ritual vary from a ball of wax from the wedding candle, to a rock, to a piece of fabric that was meaningful to both partners.
  • Have a stuffed animal (object) for each person.
  • If there is no story to tell at the end of the day, put the object back in its place. Don’t use it for the more trivial events of the day.
  • Although I really like the idea of using the stuffed animal and its personality and perspective to tell the story, of course you can talk about the day’s events in a more normal manner.  The idea is to make a special time for really listening.

 

Principal Purposes Served

  • Create stable touchstones
  • Build the relationship culture and history
  • Communicate values and beliefs
  • Foster trust
  • Emotional money in the bank
  • Fosters nurturing, affectionate, loving contact
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