Your friends + My friends = Our friends?

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Healthy relationships are vital to life. When cared for, relationships bring us joy. They bring us strength. They bring us connection. And so many other great things. But relationships are work! And, I’m not just talking about relationships that come with a lifelong commitment like a marriage or parenting, but friendships too.

Friendships are relationships we choose to have. We start to take this autonomy of deciding our friends when we are young, even before we truly understand what it means to be a friend. When I was in elementary school, I remember sitting around the dinner table with my family and one of my parents always would ask, “Did you make any new friends today?” I don’t remember what my answer was on a given day, but I’m sure I answered yes.

Back then, a friend was someone who held the door for you while coming inside from recess. Or someone who would trade you their peanut butter and jelly sandwich for your egg salad. Or maybe even the girl who has the pretty bow in her hair … maybe we’ve never actually played together, but she seems cool, so I’ll say she’s my friend. Read More

How to Maximize the Night Owl vs Early Bird Trade-Off

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I’m the early bird. I’m typically awake when the first glimmer of light peeks through the curtains. I lie there and doze, but by 6:00 a.m. I decide it’s a reasonable time to get out of bed, carefully without disturbing my husband. As I pass by the closet, I grab a basket of laundry. By the time the clothes are in the dryer, I’m planning the weekend activities while mentally visualizing what needs to be replaced in the pantry. I move on to watering the garden while enjoying my second cup of coffee.  At 8:30 a.m., it’s time to roust the household to get this laundry put away.

What might seem like work is actually peaceful, quiet time for me to enjoy the early morning. It might sound lonely, but I quite like this time to myself. Once the rest of the household wakes up and starts the day, we move into doing our Saturday “together.” My husband and I walk to the local grocery store and pick up a short list of items for the coming week. Once we get home, we decide to check a few things off the “to-do” list, which includes giving the dogs a bath. We make a new recipe for dinner; actually my husband makes a new recipe, while I follow behind cleaning up the dirty dishes. We end the evening with a glass of wine and movie. Read More

5 Easy Steps to Relax While on a Family Vacation

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Who doesn’t love to go on vacation? In the summer, we Minnesotans usually flock up north to a cabin on a lake. The warm sunshine, refreshing lake water, and lovely breeze are unbeatable – especially when you realize winter is only a few months away. But sometimes, the serenity vacation brings can be dampened by family dynamics and the little things that just drive you nuts. You know, your nephew waking you up at 6am, your father-in-laws tasteless jokes, and your husband’s grandma constantly tidying up when you’re trying to relax. It’s one thing to vacation with the family you grew up with, but it’s another thing to spend days with a family you are new to. Depending on how similar and different your family of origin was to your partner’s, your vacation might not be much of a vacation. Read More

The Importance of Intention

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Planning a wedding has been classically described as a huge undertaking of time that costs a lot of money and has a ton of moving parts. With the average US wedding costing nearly $27,000, this description is a reality for many couples. From selecting the perfect dress, to the beautiful venue, to delicious food, and enjoyable entertainment, the task seems daunting. Especially when well-meaning family, friends, and about-to-be in-laws jump in with opinions as well as society as a whole suggesting the wedding has to happen in a certain way.

I’ll let you in on a little secret – Read More

Why I’m Not Setting Goals for 2017

It seems like everyone is setting goals for the new year, but I don’t think I will. Don’t get me wrong, goals are great in theory and help people achieve results. However, I’ve never had much luck with goals. I always end up either convincing myself the goal was out of reach to begin with or I talk myself into a simpler version of the goal and end up feeling guilty once I accomplish it.

So, I’m not setting goals for 2017, I’m setting intentions.

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Relationship Tips for When You Take Trips

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“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

Visiting new places, trying unfamiliar food, indulging in unique cultures, and seeing exotic sites are great ways to experience life to its fullest. However, traveling without your partner can be tough. When you travel for business, it can be hard to focus on work when you know your partner is not physically with you.

As a member of the PREPARE/ENRICH team, I travel a few times a year and it typically doesn’t bother me to be out of town for a few days. Earlier this week, I traveled from Minnesota to California to attend the Exponential West conference. Before I left, I was already feeling anxious about missing my husband. As I was packing my suitcase the night before my flight, I began to prepare for my time away from him more intentionally.

In attempt to help you be more intentional next time you travel without your partner, I’ve created a list of tips, complete with examples, to ease the stress of travel on your relationship.

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Pursuer vs. Distancer

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I fight with my husband from time to time. It happens because conflict happens. We disagree, but then we figure it out and move forward. Sounds easy, right? Not exactly, but it is easier now that he and I understand more about ourselves and our relationship.

Until just recently, every time we disagreed, we would find ourselves frustrated and in this cycle. I’d move closer, he’d move farther away. Thinking he needed space, I’d reluctantly back off. He’d feel comfortable again and move closer. Just as I’d warm up to being close again, he’d start to retreat, needing more space. We stumbled in and out of this pattern for years. Not entirely understanding why, but understanding this was us. Read More

When Money Changes, Marriage Changes

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When we think of retirement, we usually think about it in terms of money. Will we have enough to travel? Will we have enough to spoil our grandkids? Will we have enough to help our children? And most importantly, will we have enough money to live out our lives the way we want to?

When money changes because of retirement, other changes in the marriage happen without much consideration.

I recently sat down with several couples to learn about how retirement impacted their marriages. All had been married for over 25 years, with one couple even approaching their 60th wedding anniversary! To learn from the stories they shared, let’s consider the story of Mark and Marion. Read More

3 Ways to Get the Best Marriage Prep

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Expectations are high when planning a wedding. There is this need to find the perfect dress, delicious food, a picturesque location, and a photographer who can capture those special moments. Luckily, premarital counseling is becoming part of the wedding planning experience, but that begs the question – Do couples have high expectations for their marriage prep?

Is anyone actually searching for the perfect program that combines guidance, assessment, and skill-building exercises? Read More