Here’s a Secret to a Happier Relationship

We’ve heard it before.  Relationships can, and will (if we let them), fall in a rut.  We know they take energy, we know they take effort, we’ve heard this all before.  Amongst the extensive amount of stale relationship advice we’ve heard time and time again, this one stands out as most over-used.

But what if we told you that putting in the effort in a new and exciting way can actually make you a happier couple? Read More

7 Ways to Avoid Marriage Madness

Stomping like a child, I stormed back and forth between our garage and house.  I was so angry!  Brad and I were packing for a trip to spend time with my family.  We were in a disagreement about where we were going to stay and how much time we were going to spend with my family while on the trip.  I thought he should want more time with my family.  Our interaction soured the whole trip.  This is my first recollection of my marriage making me mad.

Almost fifteen years in, and a few mad episodes later, here are some reflections on ways to minimize marriage madness.

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Why it’s Good to Have Expectations in Your Relationship

Have you ever heard of the “nocebo effect”?  No?  Me neither.

Have you heard of the “placebo effect”?  It’s the phenomenon where if you believe you are being treated for something, you feel the effects of it.  For example, if you are told the pill you are taking will cure your headache, you take it and assume your headache will go away.  When it does go away, you think nothing of it, except when you are told the pill you took is a sugar pill.  That’s the placebo effect.

Well, apparently the same goes for the opposite of the placebo effect – the nocebo effect.  If you believe that something is not going to work, it doesn’t.  If you are told the aspirin you are about to take is a dud and won’t work, it doesn’t – even if it’s the same kind of aspirin you always take for your headaches.

Can you imagine how the nocebo effect could affect your relationship? Read More

Who can you trust with your relationship?

National Marriage Week is quickly approaching!

At PREPARE/ENRICH, we recognize and understand the importance of building strong marriages—and not just during this designated week in February.

We understand the positive impact that marriage has on individuals, children, families, and communities—physically, socially, emotionally, and economically.

We understand the need for valid, effective, and accessible tools that help clergy, counselors, and communities provide the support needed to make marriages last a lifetime.

We understand that it can be hard to know whether you are using the right tools—

In a growing field of options, who can you trust?

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In an Independent World, is There Room for Dependency?

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Dependency is a unique word – one with many negative connotations.  We live in a world where being independent is so important, the thought of depending on someone or something is an ostracizing thought.

Think about your convenience store excursions.  What is flooding the front of the store?  Self-checkout kiosks.  What about gas stations?  Pay at the pump.  Taxi services?  There’s an app for that.  We have gone from asking our friends and neighbors questions about the world to owning a hand-held device that has all that knowledge right there, in the palm of your hand.  It’s only natural we stray away from the thought of being dependent on someone.

But unfortunately, that is a toxic way of approaching a relationship.  Read More

Love and Intimacy Takes a New Form

Words to think about from our staff at PE

They have been married for 66 years. The wife lives in the family home. Her husband is in a full time care facility.  She won’t drive much anymore and he can’t drive at all.

Every Sunday morning he hires the accessibility van to bring him home. If the bus is late picking him up, he knows she will worry.  He calls her from his flip phone to give her a new ETA.

She cooks his favorite breakfast and has it ready as soon as he arrives. For a special treat for lunch, some Sunday’s she will go to the local fast food place and bring home his favorites. When she asks him what he wants for supper, he always answers “Whatever you make will be delicious.” They share and enjoy the comfort of eating their meals together at the dining room table; the same table that in the 50’s and 60’s sat a family of five, then six, and finally a family of seven.

These people are my parents.

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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

Map Your Marriage

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Your marriage (or future marriage) will be the adventure of a lifetime.

You will literally journey through clearings of joy and fulfillment, canyons of darkness and life’s challenges, and valleys of hope, passion, and love. You will push and pull yourselves through the balance of staying connected to family and friends while establishing yourself as a couple, and you will have the potential to experience the freedom of growing alongside a partner who supports and encourages your individual growth.

It would be nice to have some guidelines, or a map of sorts, to help you out along the journey, would you agree?

Search no more. Read More

Sometimes the Issues Aren’t What They Seem

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My wife, Michelle, and I met with a couple that were fighting about how much time they should spend at her parents when they visited that weekend. We tried to get them to agree on the amount of time. He said 2 hours and she said 6 hours. Eventually, they compromised. He was at 4 hours and she was at 4 hours and 15 minutes. They couldn’t close the gap between the last 15 minutes.
Suddenly, it occurred to me. This isn’t about how much time they spend at her parent’s house. This was about something else. Negotiating a compromise wasn’t helping.

There are different levels to what couples fight about. Sometimes, the real issues aren’t the surface issues. Read More

Why You Need Not Marry the Wrong Person

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A letter from our VP:

The New York Times most read story of 2016 recently popped back up on the most popular list again, nearly a year after in first ran last May. As is often the case for the most popular story, the topic was love and relationships:Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person” by Alain de Botton.   A primary argument de Botton offers to support his pessimistic title is that couples entering the commitment of marriage can’t possibly know enough about themselves or each other to make an informed, data-driven decision to spend (or at least plan to spend) the rest of their lives together.  Our society is such that a person “in love” fails to get past the shiny veneer and discover the idiosyncrasies, the warts, the psychoses of their potential spouse…the ways in which they “are crazy.”  Even when preceded by years of dating, the curtain is pulled back only after vows have been exchanged.  Real life sets in and exposes expectations, personality quirks and manifestations of past hurts that can form a toxic brew – a vicious cycle of reactions and overreactions that severely test or even destroy the relationship. Read More