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When everything else in the world is having to adapt because of a pandemic, why not throw romance into the mix! Thus “quarandating” is born.

Quarandating: Dating while in quarantine.

It’s an interesting concept I’m not sure anyone would have predicted-—though let’s be honest, 2020 has been an enigmatic year. Nonetheless, as you consider the involuntary long-distance relationship (even while living near each other), or finding yourself somewhere 6 ft in between, you should have an idea of what to think about and do.

Here are 5 Things to Know About Quarandating:

1. Take baby steps.

For your first date, start with the cameras off and just talk on the phone. Keep the conversation light and take the pressure off. Find out what you have in common, try and learn a little about their personality and see what your connection is like with just conversations.

Questions for 1st date:

  1. What do you love to do?
  2. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
  3. When was the last time you went out of state and where?
  4. What’s your favorite movie? (No questions asked.)

If the phone call went well, consider a video call for your next date over FaceTime or Zoom. You both enjoyed talking, so make it more interesting, change up the conversation topics and see if you have some chemistry.

Questions for 2nd date:

  • What does your ideal weekend look like?
  • If you could travel anywhere, where would you travel and what would you do while there?
  • Do you read spoilers? Explain why/why not.
  • Give each other a tour of your refrigerators (I’m positive there will be some follow-up questions that come naturally!)
  • What makes you laugh?
  • Who is the most important person/people in your life?

If you feel a little something between you and want to see where else it can go, consider FaceTiming a few more times or a socially-distant date.

Some questions to ask once you two feel more comfortable:

  • Someone who really knows me would know this…
  • When have you felt the most capable?
  • If there is an event that has really shaped your life, what was it and how?
  • What tells you that you’re valuable?
  • Where do you feel most at peace?

You have an opportunity to have some quality and fun conversations and learn about each other with some of the normal distractions and time-suckers out of the way. 

If you’re tired of all of the dating apps and swiping, but you’d really like to get out there still, you have options. There’s a dating website that was created during the pandemic called Quarandate. Essentially, it’s a safe blind date with a twist… 

Quarandate is an online dating service that pairs singles with a potential match, but there’s a twist. The two can then go on a date that’s live-streamed with a host who asks questions to see if you’re compatible. The virtual date can last up to 30 minutes and people watching at home get to chime in and rate the pair’s connection. According to the site, it’s a fun way to safely find a match during the coronavirus crisis.

Sounds pretty cool to me—it gives off virtual Bachelor/Bachelorette vibes.

2. Get creative while staying safe!

Dating doesn’t have to be boring while the world feels at a standstill with COVID-19 still being an issue.

Virtual Date Ideas:

  • Do a virtual show and tell (the funnier the story, the better). 
  • You can watch a movie together while apart with NetflixParty streaming.
  • Play games together on different apps like HouseParty, Jackbox games, etc.
  • Perhaps you two can keep each other company while you clean up around the house and just practice “being” together. 
  • Try a new recipe together. Pick out something you want to try, each of you pick up your own ingredients and FaceTime while cooking!

Social Distance Friendly Dates:

  • Take a hike together.
  • Have a potluck picnic—both of you bring your own meal and blanket.
  • Go to the zoo! This could bring up great stories from when you were a kid.
  • Go on a bike ride.
  • Get outside and exercise together

Find new hobbies, talk about what you want to do when the world opens back up and embrace the uniqueness of the time you have now while acknowledging it will be different in the future.

3. FaceTiming each other is a different experience than having real “face time” together.

The natural chemistry (or lack thereof) can sometimes be harder to read with only a screen to clue you in. However, during COVID-19 in particular, there’s a comfort with virtually dating. You have less to worry about, so less nerves. You have someone to talk to and the commitment feels less risky. (Not to mention you know you have other options truly at your fingertips.) 

Virtual dating in general has become much more common. You don’t have to worry about it being a taboo place to meet someone. In fact, 30% of US adults have used online dating; 12% found a “committed relationship from it” according to Pew Research.

However, there are things to be wary of, like people being dishonest. “Roughly 7 in 10 online daters believe it is very common for those who use these platforms to lie to try to appear more desirable.” Remember the potential for being “catfished.” The last thing you want to happen is find out the person you have been talking to isn’t who you think they are. “Talking on the phone and messaging back and forth only provides a one-dimensional perspective of your relationship. It is impossible to be in love with someone without seeing how they interact with others, how they handle anger and conflict, or how they treat you. You may be in love with who you think they are, but you have no proof that what you have heard or seen is real.” says relationship expert, Julie Baumgardner.

Know how much information is too much to share, remember that even though they seem nice, they’re a stranger you haven’t met and keeping your personal information personal for the first little bit will keep you safe. 

*Here’s a great blog on safety tips for online dating

4. Consider dating in person for a while before taking the next step.

You may have hit it off with someone and are considering taking it to the next step. With quarandating, the steps may look a little different. You may have been dating for the last 3-5 months, but what does your relationship look like under different circumstances? During this uncertain and definitely unprecedented time, it’s important to give your relationship space to materialize into its own thing without the stressful circumstances. 🔎 People act differently under stress and you need to see what they’re like without it.

A relationship needs time for things to normalize. Many people are very flexible in the infancy of a relationship, but as time goes by they become less flexible. By taking things slow and easy you give your relationship time to grow up and you get to see how the person will really treat you.” Baumgardner says.

John Van Epp, author and relationship expert, believes that within “three to six months you can begin to know someone, but like looking through a microscope at its lowest power, you can only see certain things in that amount of time.”

Dating someone for an extended period allows you to see certain things that may not become evident right away. Having history together gives understanding to who you really are because you have seen how each other handles different kinds of situations.

5. Decide what you want and DON’T settle.

There are challenges with dating online and even more so with this pandemic. It’s easy to feel anxious and lonely because of COVID and believe that you may as well take what you’ve got so you have someone. 

There will be a light at the end of this tunnel and being with someone who is good for you and makes you better is more valuable to your life than someone who is just there so you’re not alone. Figuring out if you’re in a heart-healthy relationship or if there are some red flags that are being avoided out of convenience will help prevent you from compromising what you want and need.

Times are difficult and you may have never wanted to online date, but with the limited options, you have the choice to make the most of this opportunity to spend a little more time getting to know someone before you are up close and personal. You get to decide what’s best for you and how to go about it. 

Now that you know what to think about, hope you meet someone special!

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I just want to do it right, I want to know what I’m supposed to do.” I kept saying this to myself while I was engaged.

Plus, I wanted to prepare myself for anything that could come our way. I wanted a rock solid marriage with a foundation no earthquake could tear down. My parents divorced and my amazing mom raised my sisters and me by herself. She taught me unconditional love with her selfless giving and consistent encouragement, but I wasn’t around a marriage relationship

Luckily, the tantalizing lie that I would mess up or something would go wrong was put to bed once Tyler, my husband, and I took inventory of the relationships we admire

His parents’ marriage was stronger than ever, a close family friend had been married for almost 50 years, a couple who were our small group leaders, and the list went on. Tyler and I were surrounded by people who loved us and would jump at the opportunity to support us.

☆ There are people in your life with good intentions who will give you lots of marriage advice before and right after you say “I do.” However, there are some people who might not necessarily be the right ones to speak into your marriage. Or it might be better to say that they may not be qualified to give you that kind of advice

How can you decipher what marriage advice is solid, who to listen to, and who’s a friend of your marriage?

Checklist:

  • Do you or your fiancé have a good relationship with the person giving advice?
  • Is this someone who you trust?
  • Did this person/couple know you and/or your fiancé before the engagement?
  • Is this a person who is where you want to be at in life?
  • Do you like how they handle conflict?
  • Have they already been through what you’re going through?
  • Are they supportive of your marriage?
  • Will the relationship with them continue in your marriage and not just before it?

There’s no better place to seek marriage advice than from someone who is in the place you want to be. Most people will give advice from the baggage they have had to carry and what they’ve already been through. There is wisdom in asking questions, and pure gold from listening to those who have done marriage well who know you well enough to be open and honest about their experience. Talk to couples who did not let trials cripple their relationship but used the challenge as an opportunity to grow from it. 

Ask them questions like…

  • What is the most challenging and most rewarding part of marriage?
  • What did you all do that has helped you get to the place you are now?
  • How do you solve problems that seem irreconcilable?
  • What would you have done differently with the experiences you have been through?
  • What grace do you wish you had given each other in the beginning of your marriage?

☆ There’s always room to grow-—more in love, closer together, and into stronger versions of yourself. Lean into the support system you have and keep the door open for conversations throughout your marriage.

In addition to talking with your trusted people, here are some resources…

☆ If you want to take it a step further, check out our free online premarital program!

P.S. There are a few other organizations we have found helpful, like The Gottman Institute, LoveThinks, and the work by Michele Weiner-Davis to name a few. Hope this helps. <3

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We are gonna look at your question about teen dating in reverse order—hang in there, but I want you to do something first: empathize.

How do you think your teen feels knowing that their parent(s) don’t like this person who they obviously think is special? That’s hard. If you have a healthy relationship with them, it’s even harder. Your teen doesn’t want static with you while they believe they are just following their heart. Oh, you haven’t expressed your dislike of this person they are dating? Trust me, they know. Which means their significant other probably knows too. Put yourself in their shoes a minute. To them, all they’ve done wrong is to be attracted to the wonderful teen you raised. This is hard all the way around. But it doesn’t have to get any harder.

Question 1: Is your teen actually “dating” this person?

I just have to ask because things have changed so much from when we were teens. It’s a lot more common to hang out with someone. Your teen (at least) might not even have any romantic interest in them. You might not even know about the person they are interested in romantically because your teen spends hours in their room hanging out with them on FaceTime or some other app on their phone. So, let’s define some terms here.

Just to be sure, ask (don’t interrogate) your teen these questions to make sure they are actually dating:

  • Do you have romantic feelings for this person?
  • Are you and the person you’re interested in both looking for an exclusive relationship? 
  • Do you hang out or go on dates without a group of friends?
  • Is the status of your relationship something you’ve shared with others in person or online, like on social?
  • Do both people in the relationship agree that it’s exclusive?

Question 2: Your teen is your top priority—are they ready for dating?

I wouldn’t give my kids an age when they could start dating. It depended on whether my wife and I thought they were mature enough to handle the responsibilities and the dangers—both emotionally and physically—of being in a dating relationship. (Just because the state will give you a driver’s license on a certain date doesn’t mean you’re ready to drive. I’ve told a couple of my kids that the state may think you’re ready—I don’t though…)

Does your teen respect your boundaries in other areas of their life? Have they shown you they are trustworthy? Has your teen shown that they can set up and enforce their own personal boundaries? Have you talked to your teen about the significance and consequences of sex? Have you talked to your teen about the warning signs of an unhealthy or abusive relationship? Does their significant other or your teen ever do any of the following bright red flags of abuse:

  • Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  • Constantly putting you down
  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • Explosive temper
  • Isolating you from family or friends
  • Making false accusations
  • Mood swings
  • Physically hurting you in any way
  • Possessiveness
  • Telling you what to do
  • Pressuring or forcing you to have sex or go further physically 

Have you set up a “code word or phrase” with your teen, so that if they are on a date and feel uncomfortable for any reason they can call or text you to “check-in” and mention “shopping next week” so you know to get them out of that situation?

Question 3: Who is this person and why don’t you like them?

We have to be careful here and we need to be honest. Does this person just not fit the idealized boyfriend or girlfriend you’ve had in mind for years? Have you idealized your teen and this person just isn’t “good enough” for them, or you think “They could do better?” Have you not just “set the bar” high, but set it impossibly high? No teenager is perfect, and honestly, the teen that seems perfect is probably the one you really want to keep your eye on. Imperfect doesn’t mean dangerous. This might be a “you” thing.

Have you seen changes in your teen that concern you since this person has become a significant part of their life? Are you worried that your teen is “building their world” around this individual and now your teen’s priorities have shifted? Grades slipping? Personality changing? Doesn’t want to be around the family anymore? Doesn’t want to bring their significant other around to hang out with the family? That is concerning behavior! But it could be signaling that your teen just isn’t ready for a dating relationship with anyone right now.

Question 4: What do you do now?

I know you wanted to get here right out of the gate, but we had to do some processing before we took a course of action. We needed to make sure we understood the problem so we could find the right solution.

In general, I always communicated to my children that realistically, marriage is nowhere in your future and you need to be focusing on your educational and career goals, family, friends, and discovering your interests, skills, and passions in life—so now is not the time for a relationship that is a mini-marriage. Those only lead to a mini-divorce and leave scars and baggage you have to carry around the rest of your life. 

I always encouraged my kids to do things in groups or have people over to our house. If they were seriously interested in someone, bringing them around the house was not an option, it was a necessity. If their “special interest” wasn’t comfortable coming into my house, then I wasn’t comfortable with my child outside of my house with them. Period. Full stop. 

So, here’s where we are:

  1. Is your teen not ready to date?
  2. Are you not ready for your teen to date?
  3. Is the person your teen wants to date dangerous or a bad influence? Emotionally or physically?
  4. Is the person your teen wants to date just a normal, flawed teenager, like your teen?

✭ Bonus Question: What do you believe (and what have you taught your teen) is the purpose of dating at their age?

In his book, The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens, Sean Covey defines the difference between intelligent dating and brainless dating.

Intelligent dating is dating successfully, being selective about who you date, hanging out and having fun, remaining steady through the natural highs and lows of romance, and keeping your own standards,” says Covey. “Brainless dating is dating ineffectively, dating anyone who has a pulse, becoming centered on your girlfriend or boyfriend, having your heart broken repeatedly, and doing what everyone else seems to be doing.”

  • Don’t date too young. Dating too young can lead to various problems, including getting taken advantage of, getting physical too soon, or not knowing how to end a relationship.
  • Date people your own age. Dating someone who is several years older than you isn’t healthy.
  • Get to know lots of people. Getting too serious too soon can cut you off from other relationships. Don’t be too eager to have a girlfriend or boyfriend. Date a lot of different people and have fun.
  • Date in groups. Group activities are often more fun, and there is safety in numbers.
  • Set boundaries. Choose what kind of people you will date BEFORE you start dating. Decide what is off-limits and don’t change your mind for anyone.
  • Have a plan. Before going on a date, prepare for the unexpected.

Dating “intelligently” is a great way for a teen to learn about how relationships work, learn their likes and dislikes, socialize with their peers, improve interpersonal communication skills, and hopefully have fun with their friends.

If your teen is dating someone that falls in that “They Aren’t Dangerous, But I Don’t Like ‘Em” category, remember no rings have been exchanged. See if your teen figures it out. That’s what this time is for.

Other Blogs Might Interest You:

Is Being in a Toxic Relationship Better Than Being Alone?

10 Steps for a Low-Risk Teen Dating Strategy

Love Shouldn’t Hurt

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Marriage is the best! But it’s not perfect. If you’re engaged, I think it’s only fair someone breaks the news to you. There are some definite misconceptions when it comes to being married

Having recently been in your shoes (about a year ago now), I’m glad to have figured this out! My hope is that you have an amazing first year of marriage and many years to follow. A great place to start is with clearing up a few misconceptions about marriage. Whether you are finding out about or being reminded of these 5 things, I encourage you to seriously consider them. 

Misconception #1. Marriage will solve whatever problems you currently have.

As amazing as that would be, a title and official seal of foreverness does not equal problem-free reality. If you know something is creating friction for you now while you’re engaged… work on it before “I do.” The hardest conversations are always worth having and though they may not feel great in the moment, they are more than likely the most important to have. (Besides, you may have the luxury of going back to your own place if you need some space. Once you’re living together you only have a few rooms to work with, and that may only be the bathroom if you’re in a one-bedroom like me!) You want to start this new chapter fresh. Lessen your baggage by bringing in more solutions than problems. You have to put in some legwork, but it’s so worth it!

Misconception #2. Your spouse will be the only emotional support system you’ll need.

Wooowee on this one. Let me tell you, you will be very disappointed if you fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re marrying someone to be their one and only, they’ll be the only one you need. To hold an expectation for your spouse that they are the only key to your happiness, comforting you when you’re sad, or even magically want to pick up and join you in all of your hobbies is to be disappointed. Just like you, your fiancé is human and when they become your spouse, they will be human then, too. 

My dad died unexpectedly this year, one month into our marriage. I am 24, so it feels young. Though my husband was absolutely there to hold me, I needed someone to talk with to verbally process what just happened. My husband is an internal processor and doesn’t want to say anything until he feels like he has the right words to say. Instead of putting pressure on him to try and talk to me in depth about what was going on and potentially being upset by how he handled it, I called my best girlfriend. She processes things like I do. That’s what I needed. This didn’t make my husband any less loving or capable (because goodness he is the most loving)it just gave us both the space to do what we needed. He supported me by not leaving my side and holding me while my best friend talked me through my emotions. 

It’s healthy to have people you can depend on outside of your own home. Having an opportunity to navigate this so early in our marriage really got us on the right track. Even though it was a painful and tragic thing to happen, it was so good for our marriage because it reminded us that we don’t have to carry the weight of being the only source of stability for each other. It takes a village!

Misconception #3. You’ll hang out all the time because you live together.

Would be nice, but isn’t exactly as it seems. I hope I’m not breaking any hearts here—I’m just wanting to be honest with you. Though you do spend a lot of time together, it looks different than while dating. Your love life and work life are a little more separate when you aren’t married. I love the perks of coming home to my handsome man. We share bills, chores, meals over candlelight, and a bed! 

Despite coming home to each other, if you both work a full-time job, that’s 40 hours a week apart (let’s set COVID-19 aside as the exception here for a moment) you aren’t together. Then you come home, if you work out after your job, have to make dinner, clean up, shower or prepare for the next day of work, you begin to notice how coming home at 5 and getting enough sleep leaves only a few hours to get everything done. 

Just breathing the same air or sitting on the same couch doesn’t mean you’re really connecting. We are so guilty of being on our phones while next to each other and look up at the time and just ask where it went. We’ve gone to bed saying “I missed you today” or “I feel like we didn’t even see each other!” while being in the same house. (Let’s bring COVID-19 back for a moment because this was recent while working from home!) 

Quantity of time together doesn’t equal quality. Quality time takes being intentional and showing an effort. If you are blessed enough to have the same schedule, use it to your advantage and enjoy each other and enjoy meaningful time together. There are many couples who don’t have the luxury of sharing meals together with one person working the night shift and the other the morning shift. I’m not trying to guilt trip you into hanging out… ok, maybe I am just a little, but you’ll thank me. Have a family meeting and talk about your schedule. Pencil in quality time together.

Misconception #4. The first year is the hardest year.

I’m going to be honest. Hearing people say this frustrates me. Your first year does not have to be your hardest! Take it from someone who has dealt with: losing and starting a new job, losing their father, my husband being crashed into while driving my car (that we just had fixed), my mom getting in a wreck, my husband’s trip to the ER (an expensive date for four stitches lemme tell ya), my husband getting more responsibility at work which meant more work at home, unexpected bills, family members in the hospital, COVID-19 and quarantine… I could go on. That all sounds like a recipe for conflict and stress—but it wasn’t. Each situation that went wrong was an opportunity to grow closer together.

Was it hard? Some parts, but it was also so sweet. In the midst of all of those things: we fell more in love, rescued two of the sweetest kitties, got to travel, went  camping, played tons of games, experienced new things, danced in the kitchen (many times) while making dinner, laughed at each other and ourselves, came home to our best friend, spend more uninterrupted quality time with each other than ever before (thank you, quarantine), learned new things about each other, shared stories, made a lot of memories, and the list could go on. 

We consciously made an effort to continue pursuing each other, assume the best of one another, have a good attitude, resolve conflict, and be romantic. 

We have been together almost 8 years and this year topped them all. If you put in the work and continue to pursue each other, I bet your first year can be wonderful despite whatever life may throw at you.

Misconception #5. Your spouse will know everything you want.

So remember how I said your fiancé, once you marry them, will still be human when they become your spouse? Yeah. This remains true a few paragraphs later. Unfortunately, when you reach husband or wife status, you don’t become a mind reader! (Mind-blowing, I’m sure.) I am SO guilty of this, and I definitely have a natural ability to pick up on feelings other people don’t. (For you Enneagram people out there, I am a 2!).

I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have had the conversation about needing to tell each other what we need and what we want. Sometimes, when we assume, we get it wrong. You know how the saying goes. Even though you two know each other better than anyone else, it’s dangerous to presume that they know what you mean without saying or explaining it. You’re going to have to keep working at communication.

This goes back to the expectations thing I mentioned before. You have to play your part in informing the other person what it is that is really on your mind and heart. Communication is king. If there’s one thing to become a pro at in marriage, it’s communicating (I’m sure you could think of a few more areas to be well-versed in). 

Communicate often and clearly. Never put yourself in the position of thinking you know everything there is to know about your spouse. You’ll get bored! Being married isn’t a finish line—it’s the beginning of an ongoing process.

*Helpful hint for the ladies: they still don’t pick up on hints. Just save yourself the trouble and ask very direct questions, *wink wink.*

With these common misconceptions about marriage out in the open, I hope you have a better understanding of what not to expect. Truly, perspective and expectations are everything. You and your fiancé will navigate all of it together—you aren’t alone! As some of these things try and sneak their way into your marriage, I hope you feel equipped to kick them out! Oh, and smooch along the way… it’s good for you.

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One-bedroom apartment.

Two newlyweds working from home now.

Multiple video conference calls (sometimes simultaneously).

Only two options for “getting space”: Bathroom or the balcony.

Lots of uncertainty and anxiety in the air amidst a pandemic.

Time to work on those healthy communication skills.

I’m sitting on the couch with my husband when the phone rings. We pause our movie, he answers and all I hear is “Mhmm, yeah…okay, yeah.”

His family friend has a nice car and is offering it to us before anyone else and for a good price. Hmm…

Mind you, we have been saving for about 10 months now to replace my husband’s car. It’s been on our to-do list before all of these COVID-19 precautions. We both were antsy to check it off.

Now normally, I love a good deal, but I had to ask myself (and him), “Is this good timing?”

To be honest, a lot feels unknown. We don’t know the ramifications COVID-19 will have on the economy and making a big purchase scares me a little bit…a detour from our original plan feels necessary. To him, we’ve had a goal in mind, we’ve worked hard and this is a great opportunity. 

This could be a hard conversation. During this pandemic, I’m sure you can relate to having your fair share of challenging conversations, too. There are lots of new, important things to talk about. Money is a touchy subject as it is, and during a time when no one wants to handle money and is quarantined, the irony felt all too coincidental. For us, this was a potential relationship landmine. 

The last thing we need to take up space in our little apartment is tension. There’s not enough room for the distance created by the lack of good communication.

If you create distance because one of you or both of you are pushing away your feelings, rather than pushing through them, then you create an opportunity to have that gap filled by things that only make matters worse. Disappointment, resentment or misunderstandings start filling the gap and then you two have enough tension to fill a guest room that you don’t have. 

You can’t fix a problem you don’t know is there and neither can your spouse. Neither of you is a mind reader. Conflict isn’t comfortable – I won’t sell it to you like it is. But I will be honest – it’s often a chance for growth and a better understanding of each other.

You aren’t doing life on your own anymore. Important decisions are made together. I mean, as the saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” 

And we had to put our heads together on whether this is a good time to buy a car or not. Who knows how this conversation will go? We often have to work to not get defensive of our own opinions. We agreed that at the end of this conversation, both of us need to feel heard and cared for.

Before we tried to come to a conclusion, we set ourselves up for success. We made each other feel safe to share opposing opinions and we listened with the intention to hear each other and respond – not just make a rebuttal (as tempting as that can be.)

  1. We made sure we had time to start and hopefully, finish the conversation. 
  2. We put our phones aside, made sure our schedules were clear and we made resolving our conflict a priority.
  3. We chose a spot where we felt comfortable talking. 
  4. We reminded each other before we started making our points that this is our decision to make, no one else’s, and that we are on the same team. Win together and lose together. We replaced the “me” in mentality with “we.” What is best for us?
  5. We actively listened. (We “listened” between the lines of each other’s answers and made sure to ask each other clarifying questions. Call us compassionate detectives.) “Are you scared of spending the money we saved for the car because of what’s unknown in the economy or are you really worried about your job?” “Are you not worried about using our savings just because we’ve been saying we would get a car, or because you feel secure in the foundation we laid for ourselves?
  6. We found a solution and made a plan where we both compromised a little while still reaching our goal. We are going to try and sell Tyler’s car before we make the purchase of the new-to-us car. That way we won’t drain our savings during an uncertain time and we are still marking off something we’ve put a lot of time and effort into making happen.

Maybe it’s been a stressful, exhausting week already and you don’t want to add to it. It’s possible you fear what the other person may say or worry they won’t see your point of view.  Maybe it’s as simple as you don’t know where to start. Make good communication a priority, now more than ever.

Remind yourself to push through and have those conversations rather than push away the emotions. Remember that good communication will help both of you grow and find better ways to love each other.

In marriage, you should be able to rest confidently in the fact that your partner chose you, chooses you and will continue to as you do all the same things for them. If you both put the effort into making your marriage a safe place where you two can fully express and be yourselves, then the rest, even difficult conversations, becomes easier.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Conditions are perfect for a Silent Killer to attack our minds, bodies, and most specifically, the emotions within our new culture of social-distancing. That Silent Killer – Loneliness. Let’s understand what loneliness is. Social scientists, as reported by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), define loneliness as “the pain one feels as a result of a discrepancy between one’s social needs and one’s ability to satisfy those needs.” 

Said another way, when our need for connection, interaction, and belonging are unmet and we feel unable to fulfill those needs, that pain we feel is loneliness. Why are the current conditions right for loneliness? 

Edicts such as “social distancing,” “work from home,” “shelter-in-place,” can all set the stage for increased loneliness. Regular activities such as after-work trips to the bar, small group studies, birthday parties, Saturday/Sunday worship are halted. Our places of employment, schools, and civic communities that we are part of, are all places where we often connect and interact with people. These places, where we connect with people who help us feel as though we belong, have closed their doors. 

It’s important that we do not allow ourselves to feel helpless during this time of forced isolation. This is one area where technology can truly help. My son and I have been part of a small group that meets every other week. Last night was the first time we did the meeting online because of COVID-19. It was quite uplifting. 

We interacted with people that we have deep connections with within a community that we belonged to. We were able to laugh, talk and just be known by people who care about us. We decided to increase our meeting frequency from every other week to every week because we realized how encouraging it was for our psyche. Part of the purpose of forming social communities is to help us push through difficult times.

How do we use technology to help us ward off the attack of loneliness? Don’t cancel the coffee dates you have with your friends or the post-work drink you have with your co-workers. Continue with your small group meetings and your marriage double dates with your favorite couple. JUST DO IT ONLINE. Schedule a Virtual Date using Google Meet, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Houseparty or any of the other apps available. 

Phone calls are nice and text messages can be helpful. However, there is nothing that compares to actual face-to-face interaction and what it does for our emotional connectivity. The ability to see the empathy, shared joy, or the heavy anxiety on your friend’s face enhances the connection in ways that emojis and tone of voice can’t quite match. 

Fighting loneliness is not about the number of people you interact with. Shasta Nelson, a healthy relationship expert and author of Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness and Friendships Don’t Just Happen! The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends doesn’t believe that the answer to loneliness is to go out and make more friends, but to deepen current relationships. It’s being intentional to create opportunities for meaningful interaction within the communities you belong to. And within those meaningful interactions, we must take advantage of the opportunities to connect at a deeper level, to be vulnerable, to be known.

Think about the people in your social community—whether it is family, friends, civic, faith, etc. Who do you already have deep connections with? Who do you want to develop deeper connections with? Who are the people that you feel the safest with? We need to feel loved and supported during difficult times. Not only do we need to feel loved and supported, but we must also remember others that are most vulnerable to loneliness as well. Reaching out to those in need is a way to attack our own loneliness.

Nelson suggests that when someone is feeling a deficiency of love and support, “[they should] consider who in their life they would want to build a more meaningful or closer relationship with and then make a list. Start prioritizing those relationships.” There are times when loneliness is at a place where we need to call and get help from the professionals. Don’t feel like you have to win this by yourself. Many professionals are meeting via phone or video conferencing during this period of social distancing.


As we are being intentional about prioritizing relationships, don’t hesitate to meet online for coffee. Schedule a tea using Google Meet. Create a calendar invite for your book club on Zoom. Use Skype for you and your buddies to work out together. Set up a video chat with an elderly neighbor. Create virtual dates within your social community to lessen and hopefully minimize the discrepancy between your social needs and your ability to meet those needs. And while you’re interacting, connect – really connect. Your emotional wellbeing needs it.

We’ve all heard someone’s “value” calculated as their Net Worth, but what about cultivating the value of your Network? I’m talking about your true friends, accountability partners, and mentors. People that know your goals and will help you achieve them.

Those relationships don’t happen by accident. We have to be open to them. We have to be intentional. We have to invest. Often, when I need those kinds of people in my life the most, my instinct is to go into hiding. I run the opposite way. I find ways to build taller fences, not longer tables.

  • This isn’t where I point out that according to recent research, Americans report being more lonely than ever- but they do.
  • This isn’t where I point out that social media Friends, Followers, Shares, Likes, and Upvotes aren’t the true measure of your Social Capital- but they aren’t.
  • I’m not even going to say that old fashioned, healthy, Rugged American Individualism has often changed us into unhealthy, Radical American Individualists- but it has.
  • I’m just going to quote something my father drilled into me: “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” He was onto something.

It’s easy to surround yourself with people that always agree with you or always take your side. I get it. I do it. That can feel good. It also feels good to have people in your life that you can have fun with and be yourself. But who in your life is helping you be the best version of yourself?

Who is truly helping you be the best spouse or partner, the best parent, the best person that you can be? Who in your life has permission and is willing to confront you and say the hard things? (You know, those things that sting a day or two, but you know they’re true.)

Community, true Social Capital is more important than ever:

  • -I never once got a job solely based on an application. It always involved someone I knew and built a connection with before I even knew a new job was even a possibility.
  • My wife taught me the value of finding married couples deeper into the season of life we were in or heading toward and risking getting real with them.
  • The best thing we did as parents was to connect with other parents for coffee or dessert just to talk about parenting stuff- especially parents with kids heading out of the stages that our kids were heading into.
  • I’ve never regretted cultivating relationships- real friendships- with a couple of guys that I could be honest and transparent with, knowing that in return they would ask me the tough questions about the kind of husband, father, and man I am.

These kinds of people and couples and parents can be difficult to find. Maybe the best way to find them is to first work at being that kind of person for other people.

I could not begin to tell you my Net Worth. It probably isn’t much. I’m positive it isn’t much. My Network though- priceless. Where are you investing?

When asked, “What do couples fight about?” most people usually say money, sex, kids and in-laws straight out of the gates.

In romantic relationships, couples can have all kinds of major and minor disagreements that impact the quality of their relationship. If you’re wondering what the research says about what couples are most likely to fight about, you’ll be interested in the results of a 2019 study by psychologists Guilherme Lopes, Todd Shakelford, David Buss and Mohaned Abed.

They conducted a three-stage study with recently-married heterosexual couples looking at all of their areas of discord, and what they found was pretty interesting. Out of 83 reasons for couple conflict, they found 30 core areas of conflict which they placed into six component groups.

The component groups were:

  1. Inadequate Attention or Affection: This would include things like not showing enough love and affection, lack of communication, one not paying enough attention to the other, not being appreciated and feelings.
  2. Jealousy and Infidelity: This would affected by real or perceived risk to the relationship from things like talking to an ex, possessiveness, past relationships and differing opinions on whose friends couples hang around more.
  3. Chores and Responsibilities: Think about everyday tasks that couples may share. The housekeeping, chores, who does more work, not showing up when expected and sharing responsibilities would fit here.
  4. Sex: One may want sex and the other doesn’t, frequency of sex, sexual acts and telling private information about the relationship to others – and the list goes on.
  5. Control and Dominance: This would refer to events in which one partner tries to manipulate or control the other in some way.
  6. Future Plans and MoneyThings like goals for the future, children and the ability and willingness to invest resources in the relationship would fall into this category.

Utilizing these areas of discord, the psychologists created the Reasons for Disagreements in Romantic Relationships Scale (RDRRS).

Key Findings

  • Jealousy and infidelity seemed to decrease after several years of marriage
  • A husband’s higher income contributed to control and dominance issues.
  • Men who were more religious mentioned less disagreement over jealousy and infidelity elements.
  • Relationship satisfaction improved over time even though the frequency of differences did not change significantly during the three years of marriage.
  • Females were less satisfied when there was more disagreement about control and dominance, and as women grew older there was more disagreement about infidelity and jealousy.
  • Women reported that sexual satisfaction was lower when there was greater disagreement about chores and responsibilities.
  • Women were more likely to guess they would have an affair in five years when there was greater disagreement around inadequate attention and affection.

Whether you’re considering marriage, engaged or already married, this information can provide a great foundation for conversation when it comes to potential disagreements in marriage. While there is some relief in knowing that lots of people struggle with the same types of issues, it might be a bit disconcerting to find that the one you love and thought you would be on the same page with about most things doesn’t exactly see things the same way you do. In reality, it is pretty much impossible for two people from two different upbringings to come together and not have any differences of opinion about certain things.

Either way, if you know you have these differences or areas of conflict, it is possible to have constructive conversation to determine how you will navigate dealing with them so your relationship can thrive in the process. How do you do that? Thanks for asking.

Find a time when you both can talk for 30 minutes or so without distraction. Choose one of the topics you differ on and begin sharing. Keep in mind, your best bet is for each of you to seek information and to remain curious. There is no rule that says at the end of 30 minutes you are done with this topic. This is also not a time to try and convince your partner about why they are wrong and should for sure see things your way.

Couples often find that when they seek to understand their partner it begins to make sense why they think the way they think. It doesn’t mean you have to agree. You can still disagree on certain things and have a healthy marriage, but it will require some effort on each person’s part. If you are dating or engaged, you may realize that your differences are significant enough that you need to evaluate whether marrying each other is the best next step. It really boils down to respecting your partner and doing what is in the best interest of your relationship.

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on January 11, 2020.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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