Ears to Hear

“Check out this one,” my wife said as she handed me her phone. I turned from what I was doing and glanced at the nearby house for sale, noting its far out-of-reach price.
“Looks great,” I replied, wondering why my wife was doing this to herself and what the point was. She couldn’t possibly be serious about the idea of moving, and even so, I thought, we couldn’t really afford to upgrade. Our current mortgage was quite manageable thanks to purchasing a modest home over a decade ago when prices were lower, plus refinancing when mortgage rates were historically low. Why would we mess with that?

On the other hand, since buying our house our family of three had become a family of six. Over the years we had worked hard to optimize the use of space in our house, and yet, I had to admit, we were bursting at the seams. Most pressing, our college freshman daughter, whose departure provided temporary relief, lacked a bedroom to move back into. Her younger sister had taken hers over the day she moved out. “We’ll figure something out” I assured her…mostly trying to assure myself. Day after day the pattern continued–my wife showing me houses that I didn’t think were realistic, which I communicated through deafening silence. I grew frustrated as my wife slid towards despair. Something had to give. Read More

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

7 Reasons Why This Year’s Valentine’s Day Won’t Be Like Last Year’s

A brief synopsis on what happens every year on Valentine’s Day and what you can do this year to make it better than ever.

1. This year you will open up and communicate to your partner what you want for Valentine’s Day, figuratively and literally. It’s time to be assertive and vulnerable with your partner.  You will both appreciate that you were able to open up and say what you are really thinking. 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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New Year, New You?


New Year, new you, nice try.  We all fall into the same trap of “new year’s resolutions.”  This time, year after year, gym prices become “discounted,” self-help books flood our Instagram feeds, and green shakes capitalize the end caps of our local supermarket.  We are overwhelmed with the idea that we can change ourselves if we try just hard enough, so let’s push ourselves to reach that yearly goal.  Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall into this cyclical way of thinking every year.  Are you focusing your energy on changing the right things? 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