Blog: Relationships

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The THRED blog has one central purpose: to start conversations. We don’t all agree. We don’t have the same views and experiences on life and faith. But if one person is brave enough to say what they think, then we have the opportunity talk about it and learn something.

Every post on this blog is just that—the start of an open and honest conversation, and an opportunity to learn. THRED doesn’t endorse all the views expressed here. But we believe they all matter, and they are part of an important dialogue that will help us all grow. So pick one out, share it, and continue the conversation in the comments. Because your voice matters too.

Bracing for Holiday Challenges

Read Time: 2 min.

A few days ago, I called the father of my two twenty-something children. For the past couple of years, the kids and I have been celebrating Thanksgiving at his condo in Philadelphia—Christmas is at my house. I had gotten word through the “grapevine” (a.k.a. my son) that his dad was upset about the possibility that after dinner everyone would leave for their separate dwellings, and then he’d be stu...

Compassion for the Holidays

Read Time: 4 min.

It’s been a tense year, to say the least. Political polarization is at an all-time high and people on both sides are angry. Many people don’t just disagree with the other side’s views anymore; they think the other side’s views—and the people who hold them—are abhorrent. It can be hard enough to navigate political differences with strangers and acquaintances. But what are we supposed to do when the...

Lessons from a Culture that Celebrates Life

Read Time: 4 min.

Finding his way through the vibrant “Land of the Dead” in the Disney/Pixar film Coco, Miguel sadly watches an older soul fade away in front of him. Perplexed that someone can disappear, even from the land of those who no longer live, he asks his trickster companion Héctor what happened. Poignantly, Héctor informs Miguel that, “Our memories, they have to be passed down by those who knew us in life—...

Great and Terrible Babies

Read Time: 3 min.

Babies are great… and awful. If you listen to an honest debate between a loving parent and someone who doesn’t have children, chances are high that they would not truly understand each other. Parenthood is a life-changing experience, so much so that it is often hard for people whose home has already been invaded by a baby and people who still think that Saturday mornings are for sleeping in to spe...

Failing Friendships and Learning to be Kind

Read Time: 4 min.

I’ve heard it said that, even more than their lessons, educators teach who they are as people. Students learn about their teachers’ passions, annoyances, available buttons to push, and amount of care they hold for their pupils—perhaps even more than they learn about their coursework. As a teacher, I have seen this happen. As a former student, I’ve learned that the most important person a student c...

Nice vs Kind

Read Time: 2 min.

One of the many unintended side effects of becoming a parent is that you’re forced to develop a completely new relationship with the English language. I don’t mean that you’ll instantly gain an understanding of homophones, homonyms, and homographs – no such luck. What I mean is that you’ll learn that “sit on the couch” can mean a multitude of different things – ranging from the traditi...

Family Matters

Read Time: 3 min.

Growing up, I had a pretty normal childhood filled with little league games, family vacations, and in sixth grade…divorce. You may not think this last little tidbit is “normal,” but in today’s world, 40-50% of first-time marriages will end in divorce (the odds are greater among second and third marriages). I know this isn’t the most cheerful start to a post, but we’re all adults here. I just...

Can I Respect and Disagree with Grandma?

Read Time: 3 min.

My Grandma is my favorite person on the planet. She is 89 and she lives alone. She never learned to drive because she and my Grandpa lived in Chicago for most of their lives and she could take the bus to do anything she needed in the city. When my mother and her siblings were growing up, my Grandma would take them to baseball games and movies and would sneak beer in for herself. When I was little,...

“I’m Bringing Sexy Back”

Read Time: 3 min.

Like most millennials (and every other human on Earth), I think about sex. A lot. Not in the “constantly-horny-teenager-going-through-puberty” kind of way; it’s more of a “I-feel-like-a-scientist-because-I’m-so-curious-to-know-what-other-people-think-about-this-basic-human-need” kind of thing. Growing up, society tells us that we’re gross, perverted, and should keep our thoughts to ourselves. I do...

Healthy sex—do we know what it is?

Read Time: 5 min.

Sex. It is everywhere, and it is a part of all of us. Having it, not having it, wishing we were having it, never having it done correctly, being addicted to it, even being paid for it. We all are classified by how we identify with one, none, or even multiple genders. It seems to pervade every layer of political discussion and color most interactions to some degree.  Who we are is somewhat defined ...

Old Friends, New Friends, and the Lonely Spaces In-Between

Read Time: 4 min.

My family made four cross-country moves before I turned 18. I don’t remember the move from California to Michigan because I was just a toddler. The move from Michigan to Illinois was a mixture of excitement for something new and sadness because I quickly missed my friends of eight years. The next two moves, when I was 11 and 16, turned my already naturally introverted personality into that of a hu...

How to Mentor—Lessons from Eboo Patel

Read Time: 2 min.

Over the past several years, I have had the privilege of grabbing coffee with Eboo Patel. A social entrepreneur based out of Chicago, Eboo is the founder and executive director of one of the fastest growing and most influential non-profits in the world, the Interfaith Youth Core. From time to time, Eboo and I get together to catch up and talk about what is going on in our lives. As we’ve met over ...

Line Leading is Leading Us Astray

Read Time: 3 min.

Life is full of big moments. The moment you find the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, the moment you buy your first house (OK, maybe not in this economy), and even the moment you snag your first job. As important as these moments are, nothing means more than a single moment that comes way before any of us are ready: The first time your teacher chooses you to be the line lea...

“Take a chance on me!”

Read Time: 3 min.

A friend of mine who is in the job market just shared a bit of frustration with me: almost every position that is advertised, he said, is requiring 3-5 years of experience. My friend looked me in the eye and asked, point blank with a bit of despair, “how am I supposed to get any experience if I can’t get hired in the first place?” A good question. My friend’s experience brought back my own memorie...

Serving Means Sitting

Read Time: 4 min.

Let’s play a game of word association. When I say “SERVING,” what do you think of? Perhaps the waiter who forgot your side of Sriracha. Someone employed as a member of the armed services. Painting someone’s house. Delivering a meal to a shut-in. Organizing a car-wash for charity. We tend to relate serving with standing up, springing into action, and getting things done. And rightly so. Serving req...

A Heart for Service

Read Time: 3 min.

Recently, I had a flood of sudden memories about a compliment that so many people gave me in my early life—they told me I had a heart for service. A thrill of excitement and acknowledgment would run through me every year or so when someone would say this. It meant people were watching me, were taking stock of the way I do things, and they had decided that I had a gift. A God-given gift. A gift for...

In This Sandwich, a Lesson.

Read Time: 3 min.

Children are to be seen, and not to be heard. It’s the phrase that defined the parenting philosophies of multiple generations of mothers and fathers. Simply put, children were expected to be as close to invisible as humanly possible. It didn’t mean that children were expected to simply be quiet; we were expected to be undemanding, passive, and malleable. We were the property of our parents, and in...

Learning to Listen, Listening to Learn

Read Time: 4 min.

“Huh?” “What did you say?” “What?” When we want to make fun of our dad, these are the words that we use. While it may not be funny that my father is hard of hearing, it is pretty humorous that sometimes when my mom and dad are talking, it’s a constant back-and-forth of these words. “Huh?” “What?” “I didn’t catch that.” And it’s not that my father is the only one with a problem. Ask my wife and she...

Feeling Awkward? Don’t give up.

Read Time: 3 min.

Have you ever avoided talking to someone who was different from you because you thought it would be awkward or uncomfortable? If so, you’re not alone. People often expect such interactions to go poorly. Thinking about interacting with someone who is different from us can make us feel anxious and stressed, so we often do what we can to avoid it. The same differences between people that can lead to ...

Do we make faith too complicated?

Read Time: 3 min.

If you ask me, religion has a funny way of complicating things. For example, take something as straightforward as faith. I don’t necessarily mean faith in the religious sense; I’m simply referring to the idea of trusting in someone. Can someone be faithful and not religious? Is faith reserved for those that believe in and practice a specific religion? Can those of us that don’t identify with a rel...

Staying Friends

Read Time: 3 min.

Making friends as an adult is hard. I got really lucky when I met a woman at work and she and I instantly bonded. I honestly hadn’t had many female friends up until that point and it was exciting. I had never had anyone to go shopping with me or just kick it on a Friday night. When my friend started dating a drug addict, I didn’t know what to do. I’m not the kind of person who can stay quiet about...

Why can’t we be friends?

Read Time: 4 min.

A month from now, my best friend of over a decade will move several thousand miles away from me. I’m not thrilled about it, but he is pursuing his dream. As someone who has been there from the beginning, I think it would be selfish to try to keep him close for my own convenience. I’m happy for the guy. He’s got an unparalleled work ethic, and in my opinion, there’s no one more deserving of the opp...

Responding to an apology—do words matter?

Read Time: 3 min.

Have you noticed how much we seem to police our speech these days? It seems we’re constantly told what we should or should not say, what’s appropriate or inappropriate. And we’re held to a high standard. Some mistakes are costly. In the last 10 years, I’ve had the privilege to travel to Europe a few times. I’m always glad to go England, because they speak English there. While I’ve studied other la...

When Baggage Is My Comfort Zone

Read Time: 5 min.

Why is it so hard to let go? I mean, I can SAY I forgive you… I can actually think I do… but then we’re all at the table for family dinner night with the extended relatives. Of course, my brother says a single thing and I am suddenly triggered as if by a hypnotist’s finger snap. Suddenly I’m 11 years old again. Everything is unfair and I see the world in a haze of emotional-vomit-tinted glasses. L...

How to Speak About Abuse

Read Time: 4 min.

I was 16 before I told my parents I had been abused. I was actually at a church gathering that night and I told my youth pastor. She encouraged me to tell my parents. When I got home that night, I sat in my car in the driveway and cried. I was so scared. I was so nervous. I was so ashamed. My mom yelled at me because I was about an hour later than I normally was (this was before cell phones, mind ...

Can we listen through the pain?

Read Time: 4 min.

I opened the email at work, which was the only reason I was keeping it together at all. I was pretty sure I had just read the end of my 15-year-long-best-friendship.  There was something in the words about not listening or hearing her, but all I read was condemnation of me. I typed back, “I heard that. I heard it loud and clear,” and pushed send. “Heartbroken” is such a trite thing to be, but it w...

Reconciliation—it’s not like a movie.

Read Time: 3 min.

Reconciliation is a far cry from forgiveness. I haven’t seen my father in six years. We haven’t spoken more than twice in the past three years, and prior to that, it wasn’t much more than a handful of times. In that time, he’s been absent for the struggle of 4 miscarriages, my IVF treatment, the pregnancy of my twin daughters, their birth, two birthday parties, and all the holidays in-between. Our...

I’m grateful for friends who tell me I’m wrong.

Read Time: 4 min.

When I think about my life and the people in it, I am reminded of the value of good and honest friendships. The people who are dearest to me all seem to have one thing in common—they call me out on my crap. Truth is a real thing. I try to talk to my 5-year-old about the difference between a fact and a belief. But teaching her about truth involves more than that—it’s also about being humble enough ...

Parents Are People Too

Read Time: 2 min.

I turn 30 in 30 days. All the stigma surrounding a number seems to have skipped over me. I am excited for an excuse to get my friends together; these days with everyone having little babies or toddlers it’s quite the challenge. I would love to say it will be some epic bash, but I can already hear how the conversations will play out through the entirety of the evening. Kids, kids, kids. I stay home...

When Your Parenting is Put to the Test

Read Time: 2 min.

In a few weeks, my son will be on his way to college. At such a time, lots of parents take stock (just google “tips for parents of college students” or look for online essays on the topic). I’m a bundle of nerves, sublimating my anxiety into buying sheet sets and collecting boxes for the car ride, one which will result in driving home without the boy who, now almost a man, was the second-grade “ne...

Kids are a gift.

Read Time: 4 min.

A Google search for “quotes about children” yields countless insights from writers, leaders, and thinkers praising children as a gift. But when I did a similar search about marriage and kids, I found a growing body of research saying that couples without children are actually happier and more content. As I considered both searches, I realized that they are reflective of a tension in our culture ab...

The Funny Side of Divorce

Read Time: 4 min.

Ok…who am I kidding? There’s absolutely nothing funny about divorce. It’s terrible. Hands down, it’s in the Top 5 Most Horrible Things I’ve Ever Experienced. If you’ve never been through it, take my word for it. It’s…Terrible. (With a capital T—that rhymes with P for ‘Please make it stop!’) That being said, I never thought I’d find myself in this position and there’s no way I was prepared fo...

The Very Public Nature of a Very Private Matter

Read Time: 3 min.

Divorce sucks. No matter if it’s “amicable” or a battle royale, the process is grueling, emotionally taxing, and in the age of digital media—horribly public. If the legal documents, division of property, and emotions were not enough, today’s relational landscape includes navigating the ins-and-outs of social media as well! Today, more and more couples dissolving their marriages in their 30s and 40...

The Vital, Overlooked Response to Tragedy

Read Time: 3 min.

What can I do? The question chased me Monday morning. What can I do when I wake up to hear that over 50 lives were lost, over 500 people were injured, and Las Vegas is grieving. I am grieving, too. What can we do? What will we do? There are many practical things we can do to feel involved—give blood, attend a memorial, continue to gather supplies for those affected by the recent hurricanes. We can...

My husband has a mistress.

Read Time: 2 min.

My husband has a mistress.  He is not alone in this—most of us do. That’s right, these days the cell phone is quickly becoming the harlot of the 21st century. It’s not breaking news that the cell phone is amazing, yet has some pretty obvious setbacks. For me, this has come at a cost to my relationship. I knew this issue wasn’t just a fleeting feeling when I started to feel jealousy toward my husba...

We want independent kids…right?

Read Time: 4 min.

I drove down the country roads crisscrossing Indiana and Ohio, my friend looking on a map while we tried to figure out where we were in the middle of the Heartland. We were just two high school students nearing the end of our junior year, and we were hopelessly lost. No cell phones, no GPS, and just our adolescent map skills to get us to the youth retreat that we were headed to. We had promised ou...

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts! I think…

Read Time: 2 min.

To this day, I’m still not really sure what happens to people after they die. As a small child growing up in a Presbyterian church, I was told people go to heaven if they follow the golden rule. After all, rewarding good behavior makes sense as a toddler. However, as a teenager, I started to question this assumption. Like many people who experience college, I had the chance to talk with others who...

Why Cohabitation Won’t Work for Me

Read Time: 4 min.

I love having a roommate or two. It’s the best. When I was about 12, I used to dream of living on my own. I would draw floorplans of the condo I wanted to live in. I think I even asked my parents to build me a shed in the backyard (they said no). I just wanted a space that was all my own. Then I got to college and I was put in a single dorm room the first year. It was rough. I like making new frie...

What makes cohabitation work?

Read Time: 3 min.

Living with someone before marriage makes sense to me. There’s only so much you can know about someone when you aren’t forced to share the same space. Many of the questions cohabitation answers are practical ones, like, “Who will make sure we have milk?” “Will I have time to myself?” “Can we agree on a toothpaste?” Turns out my boyfriend and I can’t agree on a toothpaste and so we each have our ow...

The Lies We Tell Our Kids

Read Time: 3 min.

It’s not intentional, really. We want to believe it’s true when we say that they can be and do anything they want when they grow up. We want to believe that there’s some relationship between that idea, and the need for them to perform throughout their teen years as if their lives depended on it. We want to believe that there is no conflict between our urging them to “follow their dreams̶...

“Paging Dr. Noah”—My Cancer and My 3-Year-Old

Read Time: 2 min.

In November 2015, I was diagnosed with stage 4b non-Hodgkins lymphoma. If you’ve never been through something similar, I’ll let you in on a little secret: when you find out that you have cancer, you think you’re going to die the next day. In that moment, all I could think about was how much I didn’t want to leave my son alone. How much of this would he even be able to understand? He had turned thr...

Does marriage still have a place?

Read Time: 3 min.

I have always wanted to get married. Growing up in the south, there was only one path to adulthood: meet someone in high school if you can, surely by college, graduate, and get married. But I didn’t meet anyone in high school. I didn’t meet anyone in college. I worked so hard at meeting people after college, it was basically a part time job. I joined dating websites and emailed, chatted with, and ...

Marriage and the Prom Fantasy

Read Time: 3 min.

Ah, the promposal. Over the last couple of years I have watched a growing number of cute, silly, and sometimes romantic prom proposals pop up in hallways and classrooms. Usually, a boy comes up with a creative way to ask the girl of his dreams to attend the quintessential American rite of passage, PROM, but occasionally, the roles are reversed. Apparently this trend started in the early 2000s, wit...

Marriage vs. Tinder

Read Time: 2 min.

As someone who doesn’t identify with a particular religion, I don’t typically think about sex in terms of premarital and postmarital. In my mind, sex is sex and marriage is marriage. However, I can’t help but notice the ambiguity at the intersection of premarital sex, millennial hookup culture, and the ongoing quest to find a mate. There used to be one clear path to happiness. You found someone to...