What it means to have “good communication.”

My partner and I have good communication.

I think.

What does it really mean to have “good communication”? It’s something you always hear from relationship experts.  Communication is the key to a healthy relationship.  But how do you know if I’m actually communicating in a way that’s healthy? 

My partner and I check in with each other each day. I compliment him regularly, and graciously accept his.  We communicate about what we want for dinner.  He tells me when I’m ticking him off, I tell him when the joke has gotten old.  Up until recently, that’s what I had always assumed was good communication.  We’re talking, right?

To let you in on a little side of my life, my partner’s family lives in Alaska, and we are all the way in Minnesota. Makes getting together rather difficult.  Family is really important to me, and I have gotten it in my head that we needed to go visit them this summer.  So every week I’d ask my partner if he took work off yet so we could go, and every time he’d tell me, “not yet.”

We’re communicating, right?

But not in a healthy way.

Written by Molly Schlieff
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3 Ways to be a Lifelong Learner in Your Relationship

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.

Written by Ann Malmberg
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Your friends + My friends = Our friends?

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.

Written by Laura Waldvogel
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Why Your Partner Shouldn’t Be Your “Everything”

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.”

Written by Molly Schlieff
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Maintenance Required

My husband and I have lived in our house for four years. There are still rooms I consider “unfinished” and boxes shoved in closets. You would think that four years would be enough time to get completely settled in. While we have made significant improvements to the quality of our yard, it is still a constant work in progress. In the last couple of years, our small deck, that seemed nice enough four years ago, has slowly devolved to a state of warped, loose planks and even one that fell off completely.

I’ve learned that being a homeowner is a lot of (ongoing) work, whether we choose to do the work or not. You might even say it’s kind of like being married or in a long-term relationship.

Written by Ann Malmberg
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I am a Recovering Complainer

We were having a picnic lunch on a beautiful May afternoon.  There were three moms and four children.  While the children played, the moms talked. I remember talking about my house.  Actually, I did a lot of talking about my house.  I had a lot of complaints.  I live in a 117-year-old house that, by default, we are fixing up.  It is one problem after another. Not only did I complain about all there is to fix, but I also complained about the layout, the size of the rooms, the lack of closets, the location of the bathrooms, the lack of air conditioning…  I’ll stop there.  The picnic ended.  We parted ways.

Written by Laura Praske
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How to Maximize the Night Owl vs Early Bird Trade-Off

I’m the early bird. I’m typically awake when the first glimmer of light peeks through the curtains. I lie there and doze, but by 6:00 a.m. I decide it’s a reasonable time to get out of bed, carefully without disturbing my husband. As I pass by the closet, I grab a basket of laundry. By the time the clothes are in the dryer, I’m planning the weekend activities while mentally visualizing what needs to be replaced in the pantry. I move on to watering the garden while enjoying my second cup of coffee.  At 8:30 a.m., it’s time to roust the household to get this laundry put away.

What might seem like work is actually peaceful, quiet time for me to enjoy the early morning. It might sound lonely, but I quite like this time to myself. Once the rest of the household wakes up and starts the day, we move into doing our Saturday “together.” My husband and I walk to the local grocery store and pick up a short list of items for the coming week. Once we get home, we decide to check a few things off the “to-do” list, which includes giving the dogs a bath. We make a new recipe for dinner; actually my husband makes a new recipe, while I follow behind cleaning up the dirty dishes. We end the evening with a glass of wine and movie.

Written by Laura Waldvogel
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In an Independent World, is There Room for Dependency?

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 naturalwe stray away from the thought of being dependent on someone.

Written by Molly Schlieff
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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.

Written by PE Blog
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The Art of Jumping to Conclusions

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?

Written by Molly Schlieff
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5 Easy Steps to Relax While on a Family Vacation

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.

Written by Laura Waldvogel
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Map Your Marriage

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.

Written by Liz Higgins
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