Rituals to Redeem in Marriage

Dan and Becky Allender invite Paul and Sarah Steinke into a conversation about creating and living rituals in marriage, particularly in this era of COVID-19. Paul is the Vice President of Students and Alumni at The Seattle School and Sarah is a private practitioner, yoga instructor, and poet. Throughout the episode, they talk about the presence of ritual in their relationships, the specific kinds of rituals they practice to enhance and grow their marriage, and the difference between creating a ritual and a habit.


“In many ways, rituals are symbolic processes that hold a high amount of story together in a condensed form.” Dr. Dan Allender

“One of the things that has come up is this idea that the way we started continues to be the way we move forward. When Paul and I were courting each other, one of the ways we did that was through music, listening to some of our favorite musicians and spend time touching our own heartache, joy, grief, and imagination through music. I see that as something that has continued throughout not only when we were dating, but now we use this music and bring our children into the language of music.” Sarah Steinke

“For me, marking that path is really what ritual helps us do. Ritual helps us begin at a place of orientation, helps us touch on dissonance and disorientation and then come back together hopefully with a sense of being able to metabolize the dissonance with some sense of something new. A reorientation almost sounds like you return to the beginning—there is something new now that you can rest in because it holds both harmony and dissonance.” Paul Steinke

“Any ritual holds something of the past. I think that is one of the elements that has to be there.” Dr. Dan Allender

“Even as I’m laboring to write a poem or I’m living a poem, where do I find the invitation to stop and stare, to stop and consider, and do I respond to that or do I dissociate from that? For me, those are really the two choices I face. Ritual helps hold the idea that it is not forever, that I can touch heartache and it’s not forever, that I can touch lament and it’s not forever.” Sarah Steinke

“We’ve kind of returned to our beginning years of marriage since we are so disconnected with our kids during this time and our grandchildren. We are very embodied together—we’ve continued this ritual of getting up before 5:00am and walking before 6:00am … there’ve been these kinds of guard rails.” Becky Allender

“I believe what differentiates habit from a ritual is not the epiphany of it but the intention behind it.” Sarah Steinke

“There is something in the taste of that thin world between what is seen and unseen that we get to play in and we get to create something of a bridge in that and every ritual that holds meaning for us, connects us, is that bridge between seen and unseen, much like the Lord’s table.” Dr. Dan Allender