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

How Your Relationship is Like a Pineapple

Two nearly overripe pineapples sat on the cutting board in front of me.   I had been walking by these pineapples for days thinking, “Who is going to cut up the pineapples?” I finally came to the conclusion that if I didn’t, they would go to waste. As I cut them I thought “Why did my husband buy these? Why didn’t he cut them up? It’s a lot of work to cut up a pineapple. Is he expecting me to cut them up? Why does he buy laborious fruit and not prepare it? Why can’t I at least be thankful that he is buying fresh fruit?”

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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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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

The Art of Jumping to Conclusions

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We all do it – we all make quick decisions without hearing the whole story.  It’s our human nature; we had to make these rapid pivots to stay alive as cave dwellers.  Imagine yourself as a Neanderthal – there’s a giant snake in front of you, blocking the entrance to your home.  Unfortunately for the snake, you don’t have time to research if it is poisonous or not, you just have to smash it with a rock so you can protect yourself and your family back in your cave.

We still do this, but instead of a giant snake in front of the entrance to our home, it’s the garbage over-spilling in the kitchen, the same garbage your partner promised to pitch out last night.  She knew you asked her to do it, since you did it the last two times.  She must have decided it wasn’t a priority to take out last night.  This thought is appalling, what did she do all last night?  Watch documentaries about people with weird addictions?  That’s more important than committing to your partnership? Read More

To Do or Not to Do

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Time and time again, couples are faced with the struggle of defining their roles in their relationships.  Who will clean the bathroom this weekend?  Who is going to make dinner tomorrow? Who will wash the dishes tonight?  What may start out as a simple chore can catapult into a battle for acknowledgement, assurance, or even power.

How often are you faced with the struggle of doing the laundry for the third time this month because your partner doesn’t seem to be bothered when the laundry basket begins to topple over with dirty clothes?  You know it is their turn to do it, but you wish they would do it without you having to ask them. Read More

A Positive Posture Pays Off

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The plane landed and I hurriedly walked to meet my ride.  After having been gone for a five day business trip, I was eager to meet my family at my son’s flag football game.  After we shared hugs and heard about the kids’ week, my husband informed me that he had moved everything out of our office to install some carpet.  “Oh!”  I said, trying to manage my surprise.  He went on to say, “I labeled anything that I moved and organized it in bags and laundry baskets so you can find it.”  Unsure what to say next, I replied, “Wow, that was a lot of work!”  Inside, I was a mess of emotions ranging from, “Oh my, I wasn’t ready yet!” to, “I can’t believe he moved all my paperwork!  How will I find…” to, “He was just trying to finish a project we had been planning,” to, “Don’t blow up.  He put a lot of work into this.  Show him respect.  Calm down.  It had to be done at some point.” Read More

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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