5 Reasons 2020 Was Good for Relationships

This might sound crazy, but we’re going to put it out there: 2020 has been good for our relationships. Not just our relationship as a couple, but all of the meaningful relationships in our lives. Don’t get us wrong, it also put them to the test. We experienced tension, terse words, and probably a few arguments thrown in there, too. But we’ve now been in this long enough that we can pull back a bit and see things through a broader perspective.

Here are some of the positive effects on relationships we experienced this year.

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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

Intentional Parenting

Did you know that only about 8% of New Year’s resolutions are actually followed through?

Shocking, right? This is because we tend to make lavish goals that seem farfetched, like exercising 30 hours a week while balancing 2 kids’ schedules or going to every state in the United States this year. These resolutions tend to get thrown to the side to make room for other, every day priorities, like going to the grocery store, or spending that vacation money on your child’s traveling hockey team.

While we tend to make unobtainable resolutions for the New Year, many people still feel like the New Year is a fresh start, whether or not we make resolutions. Researchers call this feeling the “fresh start effect” 1 .  They have found that we tend to motivate ourselves into good habits by using a new beginning (like the start of the week, month, year, season, etc.) as a marker to put past behavior behind us and focus on being better.  It brings opportunity to reflect on the previous year and anticipate what you want the New Year to look like.

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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

Why Your Partner Shouldn’t Be Your “Everything”

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Social media has exacerbated the romanticism of your partner being your “#everything.”  We constantly see Instagram posts about our friend’s boyfriend with captions like, “He’s my everything.”  Facebook photos of a picture of a couple’s silhouette in the sunset with cute calligraphy typed over top, “She is my everything.”  Or tweets of a sleeping spouse with hashtags of, “#myeverything.”

What?  Where does that even stem from?  What lead us to the problematic belief that our partners are the one and only person we need in our life? Read More