Years ago, back in the days of being Nicholas' girlfriend, I bought a book called What Happy Couples Do: The Loving Little Rituals of Romance. I think this was before we had said "I love you" to each other and I remember thinking some of the rituals mentioned by real-life couples were mildly scandalous, since we weren't married yet. But what resonated with me about this book was the celebration of little (usually simple) rituals in a marriage or friendship. So many of them are simple enough, and yet are sacred in a way, as they are unique to that relationship.

When we did get married, I subconsciously wanted to find some for us, or continue some of our little rituals that we had when we were dating. As lovers of routine, this comes rather naturally to us. And our "loving little rituals" have shifted over time, but generally circumnavigate a theme of a warm beverage and food and quality time. Over the years of our relationship, these little rituals have developed over my knowledge of what his and my own love languages are. His primary love language is acts of service, and so naturally, I see him excited and grateful and loved when I choose to serve him in this way. There is nothing more rewarding than to see your loved ones realize how much they are loved.

I've written many times about our typical Tuesday routine, where I accompany him downtown and go to a coffee shop while he has his work meetings. We get time to talk in the car and I get a fun coffee drink and time to knit/write/read.

I've written about afternoon fika, where I make us a warm beverage (tea or coffee) and serve it alongside a treat of some sort. And I've written about how it's become more than that, as little repetitive things often become. We have another excuse during our busy days to connect. Even if he's busy with work and doesn't have time to visit with me, I get to serve us both and make him feel loved.

I've written about how he eagerly gets up with me on my work days for early morning breakfast and coffee together while we watch a little bit of Bob Ross' The Joy of Painting. I feel so loved by this because he's going out of his way (at 6am) to get even a few minutes of quality time together on a day when we'll hardly see each other.

And most recently, I've been thinking about my own little evening rituals of winding down and resting after a day. Usually, Nicholas and I will watch a show together in the evenings. And if he's playing games with a friend, then I read, catch up on podcasts, or knit.

I make us herbal or other decaffeinated tea and we enjoy it either on it's own, with a baked dessert, or with a small square of chocolate. And then we brush our teeth, take our probiotics, and call it a night.

Somehow these little rituals become bigger than just that. They become the making of a loving marriage with my best friend. Actually saying "I love you" early and often is essential, of course. But my actions convey any number of messages as well. Whether it's at 6 a.m. with breakfast and Bob Ross, or 10 p.m. with tea and finska pinnar*, these little loving rituals become a tangible way of saying, "I love you, today," without words. Tea and cookies (or night walks, or exercising together, or Saturday brunches, or cooking together, or leaving messages in new peanut butter jars, etc.) speak volumes.

*Finnish shortbread cookies. The recipe is a classic Scandinavian one, and I use the specific recipe from my beloved Fika baking book.