There are different things that make up cultures. A culture is built on specific events, holidays, traditions, foods, language, activities, and many other things. There are "Four Pillars" that Dr. Gottman has found to be important in this shared meaning or creating a culture. The first is that of rituals of connection. This would be traditions that we have within our families. They can come from what either spouse had while growing up or things that they want to implement in their marriage or family.
My husband and I talk a lot about the traditions we want in our home, with our family. There are many things that we think are very important to happen in our family, but they don't always seem to occur. Some rituals or traditions that we have or strive to have are: a weekly family night, a date night, camping, dutch oven cooking, praying together, hiking, reading good books together, attending the Temple to do work for ancestors. Even though we think that some of these are important, they don't always happen. We need to work on being very intentional with our time. One other thing that we both had growing up, but have fallen short on is eating dinner together as a family, at the table. Being newly married and no kids it was so easy to just sit down on the couch and watch a movie during dinner. Now that we have a daughter I am recognizing that we are going to have to be very intentional about making a habit of a proper family dinner each night.
The second pillar that is presented is supporting each other's roles. There are many different ideas among couples and individuals of the roles of husband and wife. This has to do with work and home life and how it should be balanced. Dr. Gottman does not point out any way that is more correct than another, but that it is important for spouses to agree on this or to work with one another depending on each person's desires. I believe that my duty or calling is to be a mother and I want to be fully engaged in that. At this time in my life I don't feel that is right for me to be in the work force, though it would be so helpful in our financial situation. Luckily, my husband supports my wishes and agrees. He wants me to be able to be with our daughter, teaching and loving her. We make sacrifices of not having all the things that other people have and try to live frugally. He is the provider and accepts and desires that role.
Shared Goals is the third pillar. These can and should be goals for the marriage, for family, individual, and all that those core topics include. Having goals and using those as how to move forward and work together is so beneficial. Shared goals can and should be worked towards together, while personal goals should be cheered on. I personally am striving to graduate college as soon as possible, which is probably every college student's goal, but Rybot is not doing school. He cheers me on because he recognizes that it is important to be, thus he enables me to accomplish it and encourages me when I want to give up on my goal. This part of our culture I see as us have perseverance, stamina, drive, etc. Goals help us to keep focus and to be productive.
The final pillar is shared values and symbols. Rybot and I share our core beliefs and values, these being deeply rooted in our testimonies in our living Savior, Jesus Christ. We strive to be like Him each day, though we most often fall short. We work towards bettering ourselves and just being as Christlike as possible. We try to do what is right and be humble, helpful, and charitable. Another major thing in our culture is expressing love. I think that expressing love is so important. I have told many people that I think that hugs are so important. They lift my spirits and I feel much happier the more hugs I have. I am not saying I want strangers hugging me all the time, but I think that families should express their love vocally and physically.
As I learned about building a culture to improve and strengthen my marriage I thought about how important this is. There are traditions and aspects of culture that can live on for generations. I want to have those things within my marriage and family that I just can't live without and that my children want to take with them into their marriages and families some day. I encourage anyone and everyone to build their own specific culture. As I think about the culture that has started in my own marriage, that is what holds us together and bonds us even though we have our differences.