5AM the alarm goes off. David is the first to get out of bed. We have approximately 60 minutes to both shower, dress, take the dogs out and feed them, wake up the kiddos (if they have not already gotten up on their own), dress them, and get breakfast in before it is time to head to work and daycare drop-offs. Our morning pace is maddening. Everything feels precisely timed and like soldiers we move through our stations accordingly. But everyday after David takes a shower he comes back to bed and for what feels like an hour we just cuddle in. Sometimes we don't say anything at all and just breathe and hug and maybe drift back to sleep a bit and sometimes while cuddling we talk up a storm about the latest news, our upcoming days, our weekend plans..... Since  last month's onslaught of a thousand transitions, I have been thinking a lot about the rituals we have as a couple that allow us to bring in some "slow living" into our busy days. It might seem silly but I am realizing that these slow moving moments are actually the pulse checks of my marriage that remind David and I about the primacy of our relationship. It wasn't like we sat down one day and said, "Okay every morning we will do X and during the afternoons we will do Y," but gradually overtime we initiated a few life pauses,  and these check-ins and moments bring in some physical touch and pace change. And without them, the day feels off-kilter. It was hard when I was reeling with emotion from our "reproductive future conversations" to want to be physically close, but it was precisely in those hard, HARD moments that those little marital tune-ups became critical reminders of why David and I chose to do this life thing together in the first place.

Why bother to do little rituals? It feels grounding, it feels comforting, and it is a mindful decision to become closer as partners. We aren't obsessed with them, they sort of just flow naturally but I can tell the days in which we do them and the days in which we do not. During the day that slow pace moment is often a crushing hug. David and I will snag each other. It tends to be when one of us sees that the other is having a challenge: maybe a kiddo is screaming, maybe a pot of sauce just fell on the ground, maybe someone is so fixated on an activity (productive or not) that they cannot mentally break free from. In that moment, David will grab a hold of me or I him and just squeeze with all the might. It is hard in that kind of an embrace to not let go of the tension or fleeting anger. To not give in to that moment and to re-calibrate. So that is why these rituals are so important to me and my marriage.

They slow me down, they remind me that current tensions or challenges are fleeting, it brings back a physical touch when the business of life gets in the way of life. And most importantly it reminds me that we are partners and with love and communication and a little touch we can work it out (hug it out) and feel stronger together on the other side of our slow-living pause.