You’re in this together

couple-fireplace

We know that family of origin has a huge effect on how you spend your holidays. For couples, it is a time often filled with obligations and assumptions based on the traditions that you grew up with. For example, in my family Christmas Day has always been the “big” day, while Christmas Eve is more low-key. In my husband’s family, the opposite is true. In my family, we exchange gifts, but it’s not the “main event.” With my in-laws, the living room turns into a sea of presents and wrapping paper; it’s a pretty big deal.

It is assumed we will spend these respective days with our respective families and that we will follow the gift-giving guidelines of each. There is also a sense of obligation to make sure that we are spending adequate amounts of time with each side. It can get overwhelming sometimes. Although we do not have children yet, I know that the complications of these dynamics will multiply when that time comes. Couples with kids or those who are remarried: I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

While there is not a universal set of rules to help you navigate complicated family dynamics and holiday-induced stress, here are three tips to help you and your partner remember that you’re in this together. Read More

Relationship Rx: Gratitude

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gratitude 

noun grat·i·tude \ˈgra-tə-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd\: a feeling of appreciation or thanks

While Merriam-Webster’s definition of gratitude is pretty clear and encompassing, I think we all might feel gratitude in slightly different ways. To me, gratitude differs from appreciation in that I can appreciate a good book, a dry sense of humor, or a killer pair of shoes. However, I am grateful for the things (and people) that I feel I don’t entirely deserve.

Whatever your personal definition of the word, recent studies have found that gratitude may be a key factor in making your relationship last. What if we could replace annoyance, anger, or resentment with feelings of gratitude instead? Read More

Relationship Dynamics & Feedback Loops

By: Dr. Laura Bryan, Ph.D.

Dr. Bryan is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in North Carolina and an Assistant Professor and Clinic Director at Pfieffer University.

Below Dr. Bryan shares her insight from a therapist’s perspective about the Relationship Dynamics section of the PREPARE/ENRICH Assessment—what it covers, how the dynamics interact, and how it can help other facilitators, therapists, and couples themselves gain a deeper understanding of their relationship.

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What Comic Books and Your Relationship Have in Common

comics

Any comic book nerds out there? I can’t honestly say that I am one myself, but perhaps I am by proxy. My husband grew up with the worlds of Marvel and DC Comics, so whenever we watch one of the latest blockbusters based on these characters, I get a “supplemental” history of their storyline. (Sidenote: who knew there were so many X-Men?)

One thing I’ve come to learn is that most of these characters have what is known as an “origin story.” In comic book terms, an origin story is “an account or backstory revealing how a character or team gained their superpowers and/or the circumstances under which they became superheroes or supervillains.” (Wikipedia) It got me thinking that perhaps relationships have origin stories, too. Read More

May is Date Your Mate Month!

Did you know that May is National Date your Mate Month? calendar_date

Use this as an opportunity (or an excuse) to step up your dating game. Continuing (and remembering) to date each other is a fun way to stay connected to your partner when you have so many other responsibilities and commitments (children, careers, housework, bills, to name a few). It does require making an effort. You’ll likely need to plan ahead, but hopefully by booking the sitter and marking the date on your calendar you’ll consider yourselves “locked in” to spending this valuable time together.

Hold up! Read More

Have you made a CHANGE yet this year?

As you know, PREPARE/ENRICH is celebrating its 35th Anniversary, but perhaps you are a marking a milestone anniversary this year as well. Anniversaries are times to not only celebrate and reflect on how far you’ve come over the years, but also to establish hopes, goals, and resolutions for the year to come.

The CHANGE Model can help you develop an action plan for your relationship goals with six easy steps: Read More

Make Valentine’s Day Your Own

Make Valentine's Day Your Own

Oh, Valentine’s Day. There is so much buildup, so much pressure, to make it the most romantic day of the year.

Often we find ourselves buying the flowers, the sappy cards, the candy (many times at the last minute), or booking an overpriced room at a fancy hotel only to end up getting in a spat about where to park the car right before you check in, and just like that, the mood is lost and the evening ruined. On the other hand, if the day is spent like any other day, we feel as if we’re somehow missing out, that our relationship isn’t as strong, or passionate, or loving as the ones we see plastered across social media.

Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to make this one day perfect when our relationships and the paths we’ve walked together are usually far from flawless? Why do we tend to subscribe to the cookie cutter notions of romance when we all have different preferences and ideas about what we consider romantic?
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