Making Sense of Messy Transitions

The days are getting longer. The snow piles are slowly beginning to disappear. Winter is transitioning to spring.

The P/E office is in a state of disarray. Walls have been torn down, sheets of plastic hang from the ceiling, and the smell of fresh paint lingers. Staff is transitioning to a new collaborative office space. 

Transitions are messy. Between the starkness of winter and the promising warmth of spring, there are a lot of half-snow-half-rain, slushy, gray days (at least in Minnesota.)  In the office, people are displaced from their desks, moving to temporary work spaces with their belongings in boxes around their feet. Extension cords snake across the floor as we wait for electrical work to be completed before people move into their permanent spots.

Transitions that disrupt our physical environment can be a pain. But in examples like these, we usually have a sense of what the end state will be: spring will arrive in full force, days will be warm enough to go without a jacket, and winter will be but a memory. Our office will eventually be finished, we’ll settle into our new space, and enjoy our exciting, collaborative environment.

But what about transitions that are more ambiguous, such as those in our life and relationships? Read More

3 Ways to be a Lifelong Learner in Your Relationship

flat lay photo of items used to explore

When you graduated from college, did you say to yourself, “Well, that’s it! I now know everything I need to know. My days of learning are over!” Probably not. In fact, you’ve probably continued to learn about new topics, acquire new skills, and seek out random tidbits of information, even if your days of formal education are over. It’s not only fun and fulfilling, but also keeps your mind open and your heart young, among other tangible and intangible benefits.

Interestingly, in long-term relationships, we often get to a certain point and feel as if we know “everything” about our partner. But whether you’ve been together for 3 years or 30+, there’s a good chance that there are still new things to learn about each other—it just might require more digging than it did when you were first getting to know each other. Read More

The Impact of Gradual Change

moon_phases

 

I recently read a (fictional) book about a woman, Alice, who takes a fall at the gym and bumps her head. After a series of comical and confusion-filled interactions, she eventually figures out that she has completely forgotten the last ten years of her life. In her head, she’s 30 years old, happily married to the love of her life, and expecting her first child. In reality, she’s getting ready to celebrate the big 4-0, has three children, and is going through a hostile divorce. I’m sure you can imagine the hilarity—and awkwardness—that ensues.

The main storyline of the book revolves around Alice’s inability to reconcile the present-day state of her marriage with the one from ten years ago, which she believes is the present. What could have possibly happened in the past ten years to make them fall out of love with each other? Read More

Maintenance Required

maintenance_tools

My husband and I have lived in our house for four years. There are still rooms I consider “unfinished” and boxes shoved in closets. You would think that four years would be enough time to get completely settled in. While we have made significant improvements to the quality of our yard, it is still a constant work in progress. In the last couple of years, our small deck, that seemed nice enough four years ago, has slowly devolved to a state of warped, loose planks and even one that fell off completely.

I’ve learned that being a homeowner is a lot of (ongoing) work, whether we choose to do the work or not. You might even say it’s kind of like being married or in a long-term relationship. Read More

Why it’s important to CARE

grass_mower
In our last post we talked about the “expectation filter” and how unrealistic and/or uncommunicated expectations have a tendency to change our perception of, and possibly even be detrimental to, our relationship.

However, wouldn’t it be somewhat of an unrealistic expectation in itself to think that we would never set expectations for our relationship or our partner?

The fact is, having expectations can be a good thing. Expectations not only create accountability and establish boundaries, but they can also inspire us to be better people, if not for ourselves then for our partner.

So then what’s the problem? Shouldn’t that mean that the more epic our expectations, the greater our opportunity for growth? Well, not necessarily. Read More

The Expectation Filter

filter-407151_640
Let’s say there’s going to be a party.

Expectation A: You’ve been looking forward to it for weeks, building it up to epic proportions in your mind. All of your friends are going to be there, you’ll get to wear that new outfit, and it’s at that new, trendy place in town so the food, drinks, and ambience will be fantastic!

Let’s say there’s going to be a party.

Expectation B: You’ve been dreading it for weeks, wishing you could come up with a plausible excuse to get out of it. You probably won’t know anyone, you have nothing to wear, and it’s at that new, trendy place in town so it will probably be crowded, expensive, and parking will be terrible.

Reality: So the party was last night. Some of your friends were there, but a few didn’t make it. No one seemed too preoccupied with attire—some people dressed up and some didn’t. You were a few minutes late trying to find a parking spot, but you found one relatively close by. The food and drinks were moderately priced and relatively tasty, but nothing exceptional.

Based on the two sets of expectations above, how do you think you’d feel about the party at the end of the night? Read More

The Middle Couch Cushion

couch-159717_1280As I was sitting and watching TV with my husband one evening, each of us comfortably plopped on our respective ends of the couch, I looked to my right and was somewhat astonished by what I saw. Lying there between us, in the no man’s land that is the middle couch cushion, were no less than four– four!– remote controls, plus our smartphones!

It suddenly dawned on me that this stalwart middle cushion, used much less than the comfy reclining ends we tended to gravitate to, was both literally and metaphorically coming between us. Read More

Why You Should Pick A Fight With Your Partner

Portrait of a young unhappy African American couple lying on the bed and arguingA few years ago PREPARE/ENRICH conducted a survey of over 50,000 married couples. It turned out that 78% of couples reported that they go out of their way to avoid conflict with their partner.

Maybe we could interpret this as a good thing—that the majority of couples are simply extra polite and courteous to their partner, not wanting to upset them.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Avoiding conflict was listed as one of the top five conflict-related problems for couples. “Why is it a problem?” you might ask. “Isn’t it a good thing to get along with your spouse?” Yes, it is, for the most part. Read More

The Right Foot

walking-349991_640
Why do we make New Year’s resolutions? Why not “Third Saturday in July resolutions” or “Birthday resolutions”? Perhaps it is because the beginning of a new calendar year offers a clean slate and the opportunity to literally start the year off on the right foot, in hopes that we will set a precedent that will carry through the remaining 364 days of the year.

Using this logic, we begin to understand that starting something on the right foot can set off positive reverberations that help drive us to success. Read More

How to be More Present in Your Relationship

present
Now that we’ve finished opening (or exchanging!) presents, let’s talk about being present!

The more tasks we can accomplish at once, the more productive we feel. We must admit though, that often these are tasks we can complete rather mindlessly— folding laundry while texting your friend and catching up on your favorite show. Your relationship, however, should not be one of these things; it deserves your full attention. Read More