The “Boring” Skills that your Relationship Depends On

Assertiveness and active listening. Zzzzzzzzz.

We know. These words don’t exactly sound very exciting, which is unfortunate because they are so important! At Prepare/Enrich, we consider them foundational skills – what all other skills are built on. Without assertiveness and active listening, working through conflict becomes impossible, talking about money is an exercise in frustration, and growing as a couple is, frankly, unlikely.

Having trouble remembering what an assertive statement is or what active listening sounds like? Here’s a quick refresh:

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How to Fill Your Free Time (Without a Fight)

When the world slowed down for a few months, many of us got a taste of what it was like to have more free time, albeit free time stuck at home. We learned how to bake new treats (banana bread? sourdough?), organized every drawer and cabinet, and maybe even took on some home improvement projects. But by now, we’re all itching to do the things we postponed or longed for during our days at home. On top of that anticipation, it’s also summer, which usually brings long weekends, vacations, and lots of get-togethers. What were previously “normal” decisions might now be met with a new sense of unease or anxiousness about being with and around others. Combine these factors with the urge to make up for the adventures we would’ve had this spring, and you have a situation that could lead to some heated discussions with your partner about where and how you’ll spend your precious free time.

Suffice it to say, this summer brings some new challenges for your relationship.

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Help for Help Saboteurs

Are you a help saboteur? (Do you sabotage your partner’s help?) Some might understand what this means without further explanation. For those who don’t, you might be a help saboteur if:

  • You wish for your partner to take some things off your plate, but when they do, they don’t do it “right”.
  • You feel very strongly that the “right” way (aka your way), is the only way.
  • Your motto is “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” (Just kidding – sort of.)

If this sounds like you, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Millions of relationships are affected by this every day.

All joking aside, in the months leading up to the arrival of our first child, I knew I was going to have to get better at accepting help from my husband around the house; I simply would not be able to do it all.

I also knew that I would be annoyed.

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Navigating the Pandemic as Newlyweds

I was talking to a friend last week, sharing stories about our weekend. She and her husband had celebrated their first anniversary as a married couple, in true quarantine style, with homemade pasta and a bottle of chilled wine that had been left on their front porch by a dear friend. She made a comment that struck me as interesting – “Our first year of marriage was certainly not what I imagined.”

In that first year, they both had major changes with their careers, bought a home together, and most unplanned of all: weathered 3 months (and counting) of a global pandemic. While many of those events were welcome and brought joy to their relationship, she delved deeper in her reflection that it was more the amount of change, challenge, and cooperation between the two of them that she didn’t anticipate. She, like many newlyweds, thought that the first year would be a breeze, a blissful journey together living life. I can relate. I myself just celebrated nine months married to my husband – also qualifying us as newlyweds navigating a different first chapter of marriage than we envisioned.

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3 Reasons to Celebrate Something Today

couple running into waves on beach

Author’s Note: This blog post was written mid-March, just before COVID-19 stay-at-home orders became widespread throughout the country, drastically altering the way we live our daily lives. At the time, celebrating anything seemed like an artifact of a previous life.

As the weeks wore on, the importance of celebration became clear; celebrations are necessary. And as a result, we’ve seen birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, and more celebrated in new and creative ways. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, our relationships, and what we value most. We hope this post carries a new layer of meaning as we begin navigating forward with this changed perspective.


What do you celebrate in your relationship?

Do you go all out for every birthday and anniversary or are you in a season of life where you barely have time to yell, “Happy Anniversary!” across the room as you head off in separate directions?

Do you celebrate the big milestones? What about the small victories? Do you still commemorate your dating anniversary? What about the anniversary of when you first met?

The thing is, we choose whether we want to make celebrations a priority, whether we celebrate both the big and small occasions, and whether we do that through grand or mundane gestures. By doing so, we create our own relationship celebration “culture.” 

So why is this important?

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