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Kickass Couples Podcast

How To Keep Your Fun-Loving Marriage Spicy – Ep: 66 Audrey Bilger & Cheryl Pawelski

By August 30, 2022September 7th, 2022No Comments


Ep: 66 Audrey Bilger & Cheryl Pawelski “How To Keep Your Fun-Loving Marriage Spicy”

Sat, 7/30 6:21PM • 49:49


relationship, cheryl, couples, important, work, audrey, marriage, love, playing, commitment, fun, band, conflict, talked, dance, life, book, won, point, record


Cheryl Pawelski, Kimberly Hoffman, Audrey Bilger, Matthew Hoffman


Matthew Hoffman  00:02

Welcome to the Kickass Couples Podcast. This is the place where we help committed couples who want to level up their marriage, experience newfound clarity, hope and confidence. We’re Matthew and Kim, co-hosts, and husband and wife


Kimberly Hoffman  00:16

In 26 years together, we’ve seen a lot, and never thought it could be as good as it is right now. We’re here to help you successfully navigate the messy, dirty, and wonderful world of marriage.


Matthew Hoffman  00:28

We believe all couples deserve and are capable of experiencing an extraordinary and fulfilling marriage. And each week we’re bringing you life lessons from real life successful couples to help you grow and strengthen your relationship.


Kimberly Hoffman  00:43

We’ll get started right after this message. If you want to learn how to experience the best, most fulfilling year of your marriage, we invite you to order Matthew’s new book, “Kickass Husband: Winning At Life, Marriage and Sex.” You can get it at “ or visit Matthews website, “” Again, that’s or www “” And now back to the show.


Matthew Hoffman  01:19

Welcome back, everybody to another edition of the Kickass Couples Podcast. We are excited. We’re doing an East Coast, West Coast exchange today. We have the pleasure of having Audrey Bilger and Cheryl Pawelski with us today. And they are bringing in the west coast to us. So, we want to welcome you all to the Kickass Couples Podcast. 


Cheryl Pawelski  01:39

Thank you. Good morning. 


Audrey Bilger  01:40

Good morning. It’s our pleasure to be here.


Matthew Hoffman  01:42

Good Morning. 


Cheryl Pawelski  01:43

Early in music business hours.


Matthew Hoffman  01:44

Early. You were you on the red carpet last night, Cheryl?  No? Okay, good. Well, we’re excited. And hey, I want to thank you guys. You I am holding. And we have to get close to the camera here because we got this funky green screen going on. So, maybe I won’t hold those up, but I have got a..


Cheryl Pawelski  01:48

No. Floating in space


Matthew Hoffman  02:07

Mr. Rogers has never had it so good. I’ve got two great vinyls in my hand. And I don’t know how you knew that I have a record player and I love vinyl, but you sent us Hank Williams, the garden spot programs. And it’s such a good feeling for Mr. Rogers. So, I got to ask you tell me a little bit about about you know, your your business and where those came from. We can’t wait to sample them and enjoy some of the music. Sure.


Cheryl Pawelski  02:31

Sure. Well, I sent you to the two albums that we won Grammys for with my label “Omnivore Recordings.” So, Mr. Rogers was the latest. We actually won the Grammy in this living room because it was COVID days. So, no big parties for that one, but the Hank was a little bit earlier. So, yeah, just wanted to have kind of a sample of what we do at Omnivore. It’s historical, also known in the business as a catalog labels. So,  We’re not out signing brand new artists and trying to break them, we’re we’re diving back into the vaults and looking for stuff that you know, is either previously unreleased, or things that we feel are important, like Mr. Rogers.


Audrey Bilger  03:18

Well, I just want to note too, that it was it was super fun and weird to have the Grammys come to the living room. And having gone with Cheryl each time she has been nominated five times and gotten to walk the red carpet. I will say that the weirdest thing was that she was announced as a winner. There are a lot of things you can you can even watch this online, but then when it was over, after her 32nd acceptance speech, we’re just in the living room. So, we look around, we call our folks, we’re like no parties that it was 


Matthew Hoffman  03:51

Oh, wow.


Audrey Bilger  03:51

peculiar way for Cheryl to win the Grammy.


Cheryl Pawelski  03:54



Matthew Hoffman  03:54

That’s great.


Kimberly Hoffman  03:55

Well, undoubtedly, there’ll be more and you’ll have an opportunity to have that party. Yeah, for sure.


Matthew Hoffman  04:01

Yeah, you gotta enjoy that. Well, we appreciate the music and we love music. We’re big fans of the arts. And we look forward to enjoying that. And well, I’m gonna ask to we’re gonna kind of kick this off with you guys. I would love to know. And Audrey, I’m gonna ask you to go first. If you’re ready. I’d like to know what do you think makes you and Cheryl a kick ass couple?


Audrey Bilger  04:25

Well, I would say that one of the words that we use for our relationship is that we’re greedy. We we like to spend time together. We love each other. We have fun together. And I think that that’s certainly one of the things that makes us a great couple that and we each have a spirit of adventure. So we’re more inclined to say yes than no, we, we like getting out and exploring new things. And those, those are really important. I often say that that for me and we’ve been together we’re going into 26 years together. So we are..


Matthew Hoffman  04:58

Wow, congratulations.


Audrey Bilger  04:59

 And we see we see our relationship as a kind of project, that we it’s one of it’s the project that we’re most proud of. And I think that that that makes us a kick ass couple.


Matthew Hoffman  05:09

Wow, great answer. Cheryl, what would you have to add to that?


Cheryl Pawelski  05:14

How can you add to that? I mean, this is what happens when you’re, you’re married to a professor, now turn college president, you know, she kind of, I’m just the arm candy. And so.


Matthew Hoffman  05:27

Are you the trophy wife? 


Kimberly Hoffman  05:28

I love that!


Matthew Hoffman  05:29

Are you the trophy wife?


Audrey Bilger  05:30

That is is hilarious, because for from the largest part of our relationship, I would say I was the plus one. Right? And, and it’s only since I came to take this presidency, that that Cheryl is now in the in the role of, you know, accompanying me and, and having a little bit more of that plus one feel.


Cheryl Pawelski  05:48

Yeah, the school when when we when we first got there, I like to joke that I was the first lady knowing that that probably wouldn’t be my favorite thing. 


Audrey Bilger  05:59

Its’ not the title. It’s not the title.


Cheryl Pawelski  06:01

It’s not the title, no. 


Matthew Hoffman  06:02

Not the title. Well, you know, a couple of things. I love how you guys share that, because relationships and marriage are definitely projects. And they’re ongoing. It’s not, we get there, we’re done, we move on. And it’s also relationships, especially you guys are at 27, we’re coming up on 28. This year, so we can relate to that. And you know, and there’s seasons in those relationships. And you guys spoke to that. And it’s so important, because we each have different roles, depending on the season that we’re in. Sometimes we’re out front, and sometimes we’re behind supporting and doing what we need to do. So, I can relate to your responses and appreciate that a lot.


Kimberly Hoffman  06:39

 I also appreciate that you brought out the fact that you have fun together. And I think couples get in a rut and they forget to have fun together, they forget to set aside a time to play and just enjoy each other. And so I think it’s important for our listeners to hear,


Cheryl Pawelski  06:57

Well, we have to work hard to get to those places. I mean, we value that so much because our lives are so busy. So you know, we we make that a priority. And also, you know, the thing about making it a project I mean, I always like to say, you know, it’s it’s the best work there it’s in and it’s it’s hard work. But it really is. It really is just absolutely the best work. And it is this ongoing project, you just don’t know where you’re going to go. And that’s a great thing, because that leads to the adventure.


Audrey Bilger  07:30

Well, I’d say to that we both have really tough jobs, and those jobs can kind of eat you up at certain


Cheryl Pawelski  07:36



Audrey Bilger  07:36

 points. And I think we both have really good kind of mindfulness about when we are starting to like the jobs are starting to kind of take us apart in ways and we’ll say, Okay, we need to walk. We need to get dinner, sit across the table we did tonight. And just remembering that because, you know, especially, you know as as for me, I live in semesters, so certain rhythms of the semester will get really tough. And for Cheryl to it’s, you know, any given day, she’s got, you know, a dozen projects on the burner. 


Matthew Hoffman  08:11

Sure.Well, you guys see oh I’m sorry, go ahead.


Cheryl Pawelski  08:13

Oh, I was just gonna say it’s really important to check in. So, one of my favorite things to do is walk my president to work. I carry her books and her computer, and walk down the street to school,  but it’s a really important time to just communicate and, you know, decompress in some ways and just..


Matthew Hoffman  08:31



Cheryl Pawelski  08:32

So much goes on in our day is that it’s really hard to catch up at the end of the day, because we’re both comatose.


Matthew Hoffman  08:38



Audrey Bilger  08:39

And we hold hands. Sometimes, you know what I need, I need support. I just I reach for I reach for Cheryl’s hand and it’s very stabilizing and grounding. 


Matthew Hoffman  08:49

Sure. I love that. And you guys said a word. You said prioritization. And the whole lens we look through and Kickass Couples Nation, what our goal is, is to help couples learn how to better prioritize that number one human relationship and when we’re not, that’s when the problems occur. So re-grounding, reconnecting and having those touch points, as you said, is, is critical. 


Kimberly Hoffman  09:12

Yeah, sometimes we just give our spouse the leftovers. And that’s sad. You know, I think couples get into fall into that habit of just giving the leftovers and it really is detrimental to the relationship. So, making those times and those efforts to connect is huge. I want to I want to go backward a little bit with both of you. And I’m going to start with you Cheryl. I believe that we have a lot of grandpa in our bones. And so, I think that when we come to a relationship, we bring a lot of that history with us. And so I’m curious, what did love look like for you when you’re growing up? How is it modeled for you in your home?


Cheryl Pawelski  09:58

Well, my folks are still together. And Audrey’s folks are still together. And my folks really inhabit a world and jokes of their own. So, you know, it’s it’s always been, you know, I guess we this is, we talk a lot about humor and having fun. And certainly in my family that that was a priority. It still is, even though none, none of the rest of us understand what they’re talking about, but some of it’s funny,


Audrey Bilger  10:31

I’d say we have a high threshold of tolerance for really silly jokes. And sometimes the sillier the better. There was a point in our relationship, when we realized when were with Cheryl folks, they will like start to laugh over something and we’re just like, eye roll. And then we realized that a certain point in our relationship, oh, my god, we’re like that.


Kimberly Hoffman  10:51

We do the same thing. 


Cheryl Pawelski  10:52

Like, were were all becoming our parents. I don’t know, but you know, I mean, it was it. I think we both have really solid foundations as far as people who are really committed to each other, you know, and, you know, it was it was a safe and happy and ridiculous space to inhabit. And that that was really a good template for us.


Kimberly Hoffman  11:15

How did you how did your parents show love to each other?


Cheryl Pawelski  11:18

I don’t know, I guess how anybody does, right? Your, your, that other person’s backbone and support. And, you know, I watched my folks go through a lot of challenges, but they did it together. You know, they did it as a team. And, you know, I mean, when life is hard, or messed up, absolutely. So too. I mean, that’s the I think that’s the greatest act of love for, for me is to be there for somebody else, and be a part of that team to be a contributing part of the team. And also, you know, they were very square with each other. My mom still has a habit of just letting it rip, whatever’s on her mind, you know. And so that’s, I think, being completely honest with each other. That was really important. I think, you know, if we’re talking about priorities, I think honesty, and just the ability to to have the frankest conversation. I mean, I would imagine that you would say I’m very frank with you. 


Audrey Bilger  12:25

That is, That is true. That is very true, yes.


Cheryl Pawelski  12:29

But that came that came from Kathy. 


Audrey Bilger  12:31

Yeah. Yep. And I mean.


Kimberly Hoffman  12:34

 How about for you? How about for you, Audrey? What What did love look like when you were growing up in your household?


Audrey Bilger  12:39

Sure. It sounds like you’re both very fortunate to grow up in very stable and loving households. And you’ve been able to, you know, actually bring a lot of that to your own relationship. Yeah, my, my parents, my mom was a stay at home mom, and you’re my, my family. I’m the granddaughter of coal miners on both sides. And so my family started off, you know, with, you know, in pretty tight circumstances. I have three brothers. At a certain point, as my dad was kind of growing his his career and lifting us up into the middle class, my mom would make his suits. Who does that? No, she was just she was tough and fierce, and is, and remains that. And it’s same as Cheryl to watching them go through some hard things, and just be together with that. I think that that is I kind of see us as facing things, sometimes. We have to both stare down the stuff that’s hard. And that way of being a united front, I think is something that I took from my family. I would say to that in terms of showing love, you know, a lot. There were a lot of celebrations and big meals. And you know, I think that that, like my, my dad comes from the Italian Polish stock. And so there’s a lot of lot of food, that’s ways of showing love, but there’s definitely that sense of, of, of togetherness, and we’re in this together, that’s been important.


Cheryl Pawelski  14:11

Yeah, no question about it.


Audrey Bilger  14:13



Cheryl Pawelski  14:13

 And grateful for that.


Matthew Hoffman  14:15

That’s wonderful. It’s nice to when love was modeled, in a great way, it gives you a good template that and I know the last 28 years that dance is ongoing, of how to take those two experiences and bring them together and we have a 14 pillars. If y’all got a sheet. If it’s accessible, we’re not going to have any quizzes on it, but we will refer to it later, but the first three of those pillars we call the three C’s. And we feel pretty strongly that they’re foundational for any successful relationship. The first one is commitment. The second is communication. And the third is conflict resolution. So I’d like to start with you Cheryl. I’m curious. Tell me more about what commitment looks like with you and Audrey?


Cheryl Pawelski  14:59

Second Nature at this point, I think, I think, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s really something that we were always sort of working towards. And I mean, almost. Or since early early on. And you know, we talked about being a team before. And to me, that’s, that’s really sort of the key, you’re for each other all the time. And my commitment to her is just prioritizing Audrey at every opportunity. I want to make her life easier, you know. And 


Matthew Hoffman  15:35



Cheryl Pawelski  15:35

So, my commitment is really to be support staff. But no, it’s true as best as possible. Don’t roll those eyes at me.


Audrey Bilger  15:46

The funny thing is, I think we both think surely of how we can, 


Cheryl Pawelski  15:49

Yeah, but he asked me first. 


Audrey Bilger  15:51

I know, but I bring you coffee in bed, and..  I know, I get coffee.


Kimberly Hoffman  15:55

I get that too.


Matthew Hoffman  15:56

Oh, you’re the coffee guy?


Cheryl Pawelski  15:57

Get the coffee


Matthew Hoffman  15:58

 I’m the coffee delivery in this relationship.


Audrey Bilger  16:00

Kind of makes sense that there’s there. That’s not I mean, there may be couples who trade that off, but it is something that I love. So that in terms of I think each of us have ways of putting one another first, at the same time is something that is something I think about a lot is, is the way in which there are people who are all about ego. And then there are people who are about your commitment to self and others. And you talk about that as being your kind of service oriented, right? And that’s, that’s, that’s certainly how, you know how, you know, for instance, in my work, that’s how I think of what it means to be a college president is I’m there for the institution and for the students for that community. And, and, and similarly in our relationship, you know, we’re here for each other. And at the same time, you know, anything that I know is that, that nobody wants more for me than Cheryl does. And even in this sense of never, we never want the other one to be stuck. We always want. We’re ambitious for one another, we cheerlead one another, and then another thing that even in reflecting on, on, on how how to approach talking about this being better about our relationship, you know, I think that I realized too is that you know, with with your, your relationship, you strengthen it by coming to understand one another’s vulnerabilities, and committing to protect those vulnerabilities. You know, because I think that one of the most dangerous things that people can do in relationships is to take those those vulnerabilities and poke at them as a way of, of getting the upper hand or, or winning an argument. And we’re just really, I think we’re really attuned to that. And we’ve, we’ve worked through a lot of stuff that allows us to be stronger together.


Kimberly Hoffman  17:45

Yeah. You said that beautifully. I love that when you speak about vulnerability in that manner. It’s really about creating more intimacy between the two of you, rather than tearing each other down. You’re building each other up and you’re becoming closer.


Cheryl Pawelski  18:02

She is much more articulate in the morning.


Matthew Hoffman  18:06

I’m a morning person, too. We we write different that way. She drags me into midnight, and I drag her into sunrise if I get her out of bed. Yeah, but I think it’s important, you know, I call it kind of called those landmines, right? It’s like, if you know, there’s a minefield, why would you go dance in it? Because you know, something’s going to explode and go off, especially when you’re dealing with the emotions and feelings of the person you’re supposed to value more than any other. And I think, you know, if you’re immature in your relationship, and you guys are certainly not, nor are we, sometimes that’s enticing. Oh, yeah, well, I can get you this way. And that’s such an immature and hurtful thing to do. So, I love that, you know, cherishing and understanding those vulnerabilities makes it safe. And I think that’s definitely kick ass and definitely shows your commitment to each other. And, you know, Cheryl, I love what you said, that it’s about what can you do to best support, which means take self out of it. We talked about that, too, Audrey, take self out. Whatever I got to do to help give you what you need, not up for me to define what you need. It’s up to you or me to intuit and to get guidance and direction on how I can best do it. And that makes the relationship so strong. So, I appreciate what you both shared on commitment.


Audrey Bilger  19:25

Nice. If I could just add one more thing too, because 


Cheryl Pawelski  19:27

I guess I, I want to add something too. 


Audrey Bilger  19:31

For us. So, when we talk about being together and being in your 26 years in, we we count from when we met, right? And we do that because we weren’t, we weren’t legally able to get married. When we were legally able to get married, and we we signed those papers. That wasn’t something that changed the relationship we have to one another. It did though affirm that relationship in a way that is very powerful. And I think that you know, even though marriage isn’t for everyone, for us It was it was something it’s something that we’re very proud of, and we’re proud, we each call each other wife and that it’s able to it makes it easier for us to clarify what exactly our relationship is, because if you say partner, people will think we’re in business together. 


Cheryl Pawelski  20:16

And,and boy, are we in business.


Kimberly Hoffman  20:17

And you are definitely in business.


Audrey Bilger  20:20

I just wanted to note that because there’s, you know, there’s ways that there are different ways of framing commitment. And, and, in fact, I published this book on with a co-author on on lesbian marriage that came out in 2010, 12?Well, that’s okay. It came out right around the time that it came out, right as as marriage equality was was going through the 2012, that’s it. And, and so it’s, you know, the stories of women thinking about what it means to be married, and whether they want to be married, or whether they think that marriage is some kind of an institution that is oppressive for women. And so it was, it seemed important to pay attention to that, because you my belief was that at some point, we would either forget that this was ever not possible, or it would become contested again. And so it’s something I think a lot about.


Matthew Hoffman  20:20

In all ways. Sure. Sure. Well, I appreciate you sharing that. And what is the title of the book from 2012?



The title is “Here Come The Brides”  


Matthew Hoffman  21:21

“Here Come The Brides,” okay.


Audrey Bilger  21:22

It’s on lesbian, love and marriage.


Matthew Hoffman  21:24

 Oh, beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. We’ll make sure we get that in the show notes. So people can check that out.


Kimberly Hoffman  21:30

Yeah, definitely. We have a second pillar, communication. And you kind of touched on that actually a little bit in our conversation earlier about making time to connect with each other, but I’d like to go into it a little bit more and learn from you know, how do you communicate with each other? How, you know, you both mentioned that you have really crazy lives, and some of its seasonal, but you know, when you’re in the thick of it, how do you really carve out that time to connect and communicate? And what does that communication look like?


Cheryl Pawelski  22:09

Well, you know, we talked about any anytime that we can get together is really important to us. So making time to walk. And it’s and it’s really good, yeah, your body’s doing something else. So your thoughts free up, and you get to really spend some some deep dive time. But I think the other thing that we talked about before is, is just being very honest and forthright. And I know that, you know, due to my familial history, I’m pretty good at that, but I think that was probably surprising to you at first and took some adjusting, because, you know, I, I want to always, I’m a I’m, I’m like the fish swimming upstream, I want to fix everything. I want to get there as soon as possible. I, I have the hardest time understanding, you know, we were talking about landmines before. Why would you do that to each other? You know, what a waste of time and energy is, you know, your collective energy. And we don’t, and maybe it’s because it’s scarce for us, right? That, that that kind of energy, and output, but I I just shortest distance is a straight line, right? So, let’s get to it. And, and I know that I can’t be the fixer all the time. And that’s something that we work through, is that’s my orientation. Like, I’m just gonna go straight into it. And, and, and communicate as effectively, as I’m writing like, marketing copy, right? Like I spend all day condensing words, so that when you look at something you you know, all of the points I want to make, you know, on a one inch sticker on a record.


Kimberly Hoffman  24:00



Cheryl Pawelski  24:00

And you can’t always be that way in a relationship. So, I had to slow down. And she had to get used to me communicating in that way and my desire to fix everything, which I cannot. I know this. 


Kimberly Hoffman  24:14

Sure. And so Audrey, how did you work through that? How did you all I mean, when someone’s really that direct, and, you know, a to b and just getting there as fast as you can, like you said, straight line. You know, if that’s not something that you’re comfortable with or familiar with, how did you work through that?


Audrey Bilger  24:33

Well, I mean, I think that takes time. That’s why that’s why we say it’s a project, but I feel like you know, everyone knows that is in a relationship you’ll have you’ll come back to certain kinds of triggers for for things that you’ll fight about, right? And this is we joke that this L are we having fight number five are we having right fight number six, but I’d say that there’s some that are really trivial, like, you know, scheduled your Oh, you didn’t tell me you’re doing that. All right, that’s, that’s kind of one thing. And then there are the big things. I think some of the ones the big things are, you’re trying to sort out, trying to solve a big problem. And, and for some of those, for me, I want to kind of sit with it and let it simmer. And just recognizing that, you know, when Cheryl steps in and wants to help, and thinks that she’s got it figured out, that that is, you know, that that’s, it’s definitely well, well intended, but I think in other ways, too, one of the things I think about over time is that we, we will come to certain things again and again, and go deeper each time. And sometimes it’s exhausting. No, it’s always exhausting when you get to those, those, those really deep issues. And, and then we’ll come out of it. And both just thank each other for having spent the time kind of digging, and you will have a ha moments like, oh, I suddenly realized, oh, that’s why this was upsetting to me. And at the roots of a lot of the things I think that become triggers for any kind of conflict and that require communication is just recognizing that, because we both want to take care of each other and look out for each other. What we least want is to fall short, or to be not the not the ideal person for one another. And so I think that there there are certainly moments when that that just kind of pulling back from that and recognizing. Okay, we’re we are again, we’re in this together, so we’re gonna have to we’re gonna have to sort this out. We don’t get to go hide and hide in the closet.


Matthew Hoffman  26:40

When it comes to creating a kick ass marriage, do you ever wonder what you could be doing better? Have you ever thought how helpful it would be to be a part of a like minded community of other imperfect couples who want to level up and their number one relationship? Come visit Kickass Couples Nation, where you can talk with people just like you who are looking for ways to invest in and increase their joy, commitment, and fulfillment in their most important human relationship. You’ll have access to a team of licensed marriage therapists, coaches, articles, podcasts, live webinars and more. Just visit “” So, you can learn more about a community that’s ready to help you level up. That’s “” So, you can become of the growing Kickass Couples Nation right now.  It’s interesting, because what I heard you guys talking about is Cheryl seems to be the pursuer. Hey, let’s face it. Let’s deal with it. Let’s get through it that shortest line right? And Audrey you’re a  little bit more like distance or let me think about it. I’ll come back to it we’ll ruminate, and we’ll reconnect later. And I we haven’t met a couple yet where they’re both distances or they’re both pursuers. I’m more the pursuer Cheryl, in our relationship and Kim’s like I need to ruminate. Let me formulate, let me marinate, let me think. We’ll reconnect later. And I’ve had to learn that too. I’ve had to learn to honor that, because that’s what she needs, right? And I’ll always want to get it done right away, cross it off the list, move through it, let’s go. And so I had to learn that dance. And it sounds like you guys have done that effectively as well, relative to your communication.


Kimberly Hoffman  28:18

And I believe it’s hard for the pursuer, because the pursuer wants to fix it and, you know, cross it off the list. Let’s get it, let’s take care of this. I don’t want this hanging out. And I believe that the pursuer really needs to know, from the their partner that, you know, we’re gonna get back to this, give me an hour, give me You know, sometimes you have to make a point to give them a timeframe of when you’re going to come back, because they’re so worried and concerned and you know, just want to get through it. So, I think it’s important that we respect both sides of that. And I think you’re right, it’s a dance. You have to learn how to give and take with that.


Audrey Bilger  29:02

Yep. I think I’d say one, one additional thing on this. And this is one of those kind of couple rules that we learned fairly early is not to say always and never. And so we always do this. So, we actually we I think routinely correct, no, correct ourselves on that. I mean, to say you always do this. And that too, is that way that you kind of go into some situations and you think, oh, this is the end of the end of the world, it’s the end of everything. It’s not and the behavior generally isn’t. They always send the never


Cheryl Pawelski  29:32

Yeah, you have to meet in the middle. I mean, you had to come towards me and I just had to be patient sometimes, which is fine for me.


Audrey Bilger  29:40

Gotta be patient.


Cheryl Pawelski  29:40

I’m not one bit. I’m really super patient at some things.


Audrey Bilger  29:44

That’s true, but it’s true. 


Cheryl Pawelski  29:45

But yeah, it’s more than crossing any more than crossing off the list. I was more worried. I mean, when when we were first dealing with these things. It was it was the end of the world if you weren’t communicating with me.


Kimberly Hoffman  30:01

Yeah, you were frightened. 


Cheryl Pawelski  30:02

Yeah, I need..


Kimberly Hoffman  30:03

The safety of your relationship is in jeopardy. That’s what you were hearing. 


Cheryl Pawelski  30:07



Kimberly Hoffman  30:07

And we’re feeling. 


Cheryl Pawelski  30:08

Like, like we said, you know, we started numbering arguments and stuff. It’s like, do we have to go to number 57, again?  You know, it’s, and that became very helpful. That was that was helpful to me, because we could just identify exactly what we were doing, and then just go, we’re tossing this, you know, this is, this is not a productive conversation anymore. We’ve been here before, we don’t have to revisit it, but it took a while to get there.


Matthew Hoffman  30:33



Kimberly Hoffman  30:34

Sure. And there’s a statistic out there that says there’s going to be, you know, two thirds of arguments that you’re never going to resolve, you’re always going to be sort of stuck in that perpetual unresolvable state with things. And really all it is is just gleaning understanding, really understanding where that other person that’s coming from, so you’re not going to solve it.


Cheryl Pawelski  30:56

Yeah, that makes me crazy.


Matthew Hoffman  31:04

So, we’re gonna move on to our third. So you want to talk about our third C?


Kimberly Hoffman  31:08

Sure, conflict-resolution is our third C. And we know that throughout the journey of life, there are going to are going to be things that arise, we’re going to have conflict in one way or another. Sometimes they’re just little things, and sometimes they’re big blow ups, but I’d love to know, from each of you, how do you deal with resolving conflict and you’re in your relationship?


Audrey Bilger  31:34

Yeah, I think from what we’ve been saying, right now that we’d say that communication is the key to resolving conflict,


Cheryl Pawelski  31:40

And numbering your fights. And numbering your fights, yeah.


Matthew Hoffman  31:43

That’s a new one.


Kimberly Hoffman  31:44

Yeah, I know, I love we learned.


Matthew Hoffman  31:45

We might adopt that.


Cheryl Pawelski  31:47

Oh yeah, it’s great.


Audrey Bilger  31:48

The numbering the fight pieces is a recognition that oh yeah it’s this thing that we come back to again, and again, and I think once you identify that, too, it gives you a way to look, look under the hood and say, okay, what is that? 


Cheryl Pawelski  32:02



Audrey Bilger  32:02

And where’s where are the roots for that? And you were saying earlier, you know, some of this might come from family? Oh, yeah, that’s, I understand when I was little this as well, that felt or some of it will come from, oh, yeah, this is what’s happening at work right now. And you’re not you’re not that person. And I’m, has been antagonists for me, and I’m not going to make you into that person. And, 


Matthew Hoffman  32:25



Audrey Bilger  32:25

You know, those are, those are some of the things that I think can help is just identifying that conflict is that there are patterns to conflict. And, and also, you know, trying to be kind to oneself in the middle of of these things and recognize that, that if you’re striving for perfection, and we’re both, we’re both a little on that that type a kind of kind of spectrum, maybe a lot of kickass couples are 


Kimberly Hoffman  32:51



Audrey Bilger  32:51

I saw that as a pattern, but but you, you’re striving for perfection. And I would define myself as a pragmatic idealist and I think in relationships too, you have the highest ideals for your relationship, but you know what, you can have a bad day.


Matthew Hoffman  33:07

Yeah. Yeah. 


Kimberly Hoffman  33:08

No doubt we all have them.


Matthew Hoffman  33:10

And what number I want to know I was burning it since you guys said it. What number fight or argument or disagreement are you on? Do you know? Do you is there a number now?  No? Okay.I thought holy cow, they got a list? Man. 


Cheryl Pawelski  33:20

No. We randomly assign. No. 


Kimberly Hoffman  33:20

We’ve been keeping track? 


Matthew Hoffman  33:26

Don’t make me go to 98. 


Kimberly Hoffman  33:29

There are only 57?


Audrey Bilger  33:32

I will say there is a whole bucket around time because our schedules are so.. 


Kimberly Hoffman  33:35



Audrey Bilger  33:36

Conflicted, so..


Matthew Hoffman  33:37



Audrey Bilger  33:38

it’ll just be like, Oh, yeah. Okay. You Yeah, how long are you going to be gone? Oh, I didn’t know you’re gonna be gone that long. And


Cheryl Pawelski  33:44

We’ve just, you know, we should start naming them in other ways, because


Audrey Bilger  33:47

That’s true.


Cheryl Pawelski  33:47

We don’t fight that much. 


Audrey Bilger  33:49

And numbers are that are abstract. 


Cheryl Pawelski  33:51

Yeah,I mean, we finally started anthropomorphizing our cars so that they have names. So, we should just give our fights. Hey, enough with Tony already.


Matthew Hoffman  33:59

Yeah, Tony, get out of here. So, it kind of as a follow up on that, can you guys think of what’s been one of the biggest conflicts or challenges that you faced? And can you share with us and our listeners, how you worked through it? So think of it can either one of you think of an example, man, this was a tough one, but here’s what we did.


Audrey Bilger  34:19

Well, I’m one of the big things for for us, as I said, our lives were going along in one way, for a pretty long time. I was a professor, and this is, you know, I would go and teach my classes and, and as I said, I was largely the plus one insurance life for that time, and that I’m a music lover, I could I’m happiest at a concert and, and so you know, there were just ways in which we had rhythms set for that. And then when I decided that I wanted to go into work that was going to take a different sort of toll on my schedule. We really had to, we talked through that. I would say you know Cheryl, really You know, cheerleaded for me to take this, this path. And at the same time, when it changes that rhythm, we had to, we had to figure that out. And it was personally hard for me at first, because the roles that I’ve taken on have been so all encompassing, that it felt like I died to my past self, and we just had to come together. And I’d say that this is where, you know, Cheryl was very helpful to me, and helping me understand that, you know, if I have to be connected to something away away from the relationship for 15 hours, 20 hours, or I get immersed in really huge problems that, that that we can we can handle that in this relationship.


Cheryl Pawelski  35:45

 Well, we also the latest move required us to to move cities even. Yeah, so. And that was that was all tough, but you know, it was a conflict, but it was also not, I mean, it was a joint decision. So, you know, I was thinking more of the early days when I was when I was always gone. You know, now we’re both gone. But, you know, I was, I was gone a lot because I was I was I was really, you know, I was just a little bit of a sprout at, you know, in the record, major record label system. And then I had a band, so at night, I was gone, too. And that was hard. And it just, you know, the resolution to that was just just an awareness that we had to, we had to prioritize. I mean, that’s when that’s when we learn how to prioritize. 


Matthew Hoffman  36:37



Cheryl Pawelski  36:38

And it’s really important. I mean, when you you know, there’s 24 hours in a day, I mean, sometimes we push it to 25. But you know, but you know, there’s there’s really only so much time, and that is that’s always been a source of conflict. And I think, you know, it’s it’s probably not as much anymore. 


Audrey Bilger  36:59

Well, I would say that one of the one of the biggest pieces of it, again, is that we we were grieving for each other’s company. And it’s hard not to be able to be everywhere at once. You know, so Cheryl just won a distinguished alumna award from Marquette her her college, and I had to be at my first board of trustees retreat. Well, I would love to have had her there. And she would love to, and we just had to be make peace with the fact that these awesome things are happening in our lives. And we can’t always be right there. And then to try to be there as much as we can is another priority.


Matthew Hoffman  37:33



Kimberly Hoffman  37:35

Yeah, I love that you’re acknowledging the good, and appreciating what is happening to each other. And I love the part about, you know, being greedy for each other’s time. I’m greedy for Matthew’s time, but you know, he doesn’t always have that time to give. So, figuring that out, and taking advantage of the opportunities when you have them learning again, that dance. It’s important. And it takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.


Matthew Hoffman  38:03

Yeah, and it’s funny that leads kind of into another question, once we step out of the three C’s for a minute, is that we’ve talked about three of our pillars. And I know I think you guys have that list. I’d love to hear from either one of you and can take a turn on this one, but hear from both of you. What other pillar there’s 11 others there. Which one 


Cheryl Pawelski  38:24

It’s on the stack of records. 


Kimberly Hoffman  38:25

Hold on. 


Matthew Hoffman  38:26

Which, no worries, take your time, and I can go through them if it’s easier for you. I’ve got a list as well and know them pretty well, but as you look at that list outside of the three C’s, I’d love for you to you want me to go through them? Would that be helpful? 


Cheryl Pawelski  38:40

They’re on the couch.


Matthew Hoffman  38:41

Or you got them? Okay, well, let me let me read them off. We talked about commitment, communication and conflict resolution already. So, the rest of our pillars are trust and honesty, patience. 


Cheryl Pawelski  38:52

Oh, yeah. 


Matthew Hoffman  38:53

Oh, you got it? 


Cheryl Pawelski  38:54



Matthew Hoffman  38:54

Intimacy, lasting love, selflessness, unity, servant leadership, faith and moral code, appreciation, and security. So, which of those others jumps off the page? And is important to to each of you? Oh, yeah. Fun and fun  and humor


Kimberly Hoffman  39:12

Fun and humor Fun and


Matthew Hoffman  39:13

 Is the last one. Yeah.


Cheryl Pawelski  39:14

There, you got it! 


Audrey Bilger  39:15

We’ll definitely go. We’ll, we’ll go for fun and humor..


Kimberly Hoffman  39:18



Audrey Bilger  39:18

Although I can say I mean so many of these and they’re it’s a it’s an excellent list, because these are certainly the components that one one looks for and hopes for in relationship and as we did the assessment we I think both agreed. Yeah, we’re doing well and all these but fun and humor is probably probably the top one for us.


Cheryl Pawelski  39:36

Yeah. You know, it’s door number three, right? You know, it’s it’s, I think my my, my favorite people are always the funniest people I know. And, frankly, Audrey is hilarious, but it’s you know, It’s true. And I equate funny with smart. And I just think that every day would be really, really sad if we weren’t as ridiculous as we are.


Audrey Bilger  40:17

Yeah, I mean, I dance around the house all the time. And I’m, you know, I think on the dance floor, I’m okay dancer, but around the house, I’m a silly dancer. And it’s just excellent. It’s what it’s in. I love that it amuses Cheryl. And sometimes she dances along, but we, we, I think we just, we lift each other up with with that sense of fun. And, you know, the thing that you hear sometimes is how many positive versus negative experiences can pull a relationship down. And I believe that for us, that that cultivation of fun, and appreciation of humor really helps to maximize the number of positives for us.


Cheryl Pawelski  41:02

And also it’s, it’s all about play. Really, right? 


Audrey Bilger  41:06



Cheryl Pawelski  41:06

So, you know, we play well together, and we look, we look for other people to hang out with, who we play well with. And what if life is all work? Really, really, you know, and for us, you know, it could be anything from a word to a to a butt dance to just, you know, it’s anything, you know, I think I, I personally look to play with everything as much as possible. You know, words, everything.


Audrey Bilger  41:41

And with our with our best with our friend, friends, we like to have experiences. So, whether it’s going going on hikes, or going for a drive, or.. 


Cheryl Pawelski  41:51

Especially if they’re fun. 


Audrey Bilger  41:52

Especially, if they’re funny.


Kimberly Hoffman  41:55

So, I think playing playing together is huge. And you hit the nail on the head when you said together, because I believe couples can get caught up in doing things separately, oh, I’m gonna go play golf or you I’m gonna go do this with the girls and all of a sudden you’re playing, but you’re, you know, you’re over here and your spouse is over there. And you’re forgetting that it’s playing together, the fun and humor together is what’s so important. It really does make a huge difference in your marriage when you can do that. So 


Cheryl Pawelski  42:25



Kimberly Hoffman  42:25

Kudos to both of you.


Cheryl Pawelski  42:27

I think if you don’t like to play together, you probably aren’t compatible.


Kimberly Hoffman  42:31



Audrey Bilger  42:32

Well, in for us. I mean, as I said, we, we share this love of music and a joke in Cheryl’s circle, because she’s, you know, we have this large record collection. And many of of her friends and colleagues who also bring records into the house, talk about the one in one out rule or their spouse have imposed and, and we’re just we’re not like that we, we support one another and, and both. I both love having the record. So, playing records, playing music, going to concerts, you know, that’s a huge, important dimension of our relationship. And I’ve tried to articulate what it’s like to have we call it a band crush, there are certain bands that we both just really love and how that enhances something about the love that we have for each other that we have this music.


Cheryl Pawelski  43:22

Yeah. So yeah, sharing, playing.


Audrey Bilger  43:26

Some people can, we can finish each other sentences, but we can also we have a kind of endless arsenal of, of songs that song references, 


Kimberly Hoffman  43:34



Audrey Bilger  43:34

We’ll, we’ll say something and then someone will burst into a song that relates to it.


Cheryl Pawelski  43:39

It’s weird because I’m in I’m the person that works in music. She’s the best DJ. 


Kimberly Hoffman  43:44

There you go.


Matthew Hoffman  43:44

Oh, I love it.


Kimberly Hoffman  43:45

I love that kind of bantering too. 


Matthew Hoffman  43:47

So, now you both play you both. Were you guys in a band together or in separate bands? I want to hear about this band crush, romance.


Kimberly Hoffman  43:54

Yeah. Same.


Matthew Hoffman  43:54

 I want that backstory. Our listeners have inquiring minds.


Cheryl Pawelski  43:57

This is Audrey’s story.


Audrey Bilger  43:58

Well, we did. We did, we met, because so I I was when i was a just starting out as a college professor, I was in a in Oberlin and Oberlin has kind of there’s a music conservatory live music, so, I started at that time playing drums. And when I landed in California, I got together some some women for an all female blues band. And we were playing out around my college. And one night I we were scheduled to play a bookstore Borders Books, and I we hadn’t played this bookstore before. So, I went over to to listen to another band that was playing. It was Cheryl’s band. And I talked to her at the break and asked her some questions and, and actually your piece of it is that she saw in I’ll tell you a piece of it, I guess, but you saw in the Border’s newsletter. 


Cheryl Pawelski  44:50



Audrey Bilger  44:51

That there’s a band playing the next week.


Cheryl Pawelski  44:53

And it listed you know, drummer, professor, lit Professor Audrey Bilger has like it’s interesting, combination.


Audrey Bilger  45:03

Next week, I was playing with my band and I looked over the coffee counter and I thought, I think it’s that guitarist. And then I got her phone number and she gave me her records and, and that the rest is 


Cheryl Pawelski  45:15



Matthew Hoffman  45:15



Kimberly Hoffman  45:16

That’s awesome.


Matthew Hoffman  45:16

I love it. What a great story. So, it is true. It was a band, it was to a musician connection. 


Cheryl Pawelski  45:23



Matthew Hoffman  45:24

That’s great. 


Cheryl Pawelski  45:25



Matthew Hoffman  45:25

I love it.


Kimberly Hoffman  45:27

All right, Audrey, I have a fun question for you. If you could go back in time to your unmarried self, and put your hands on your shoulders and give yourself one piece of advice. What would that one piece of advice be?


Audrey Bilger  45:44

Yeah, that that piece of advice would be to believe that there is someone who is trustworthy, who is endlessly entertaining. And who will always surprise me to believe that that person is there, because I think when you’re not in a coupled state, you begin to despair. And, and, and then you’re, you know, for me, when, when I met Cheryl, I felt like, oh my god, this is this is pretty, pretty special.


Kimberly Hoffman  46:20

How about you, Cheryl? If you had to do the same thing. Give yourself one piece of advice your unmarried self, what would you say?


Cheryl Pawelski  46:31

Work hard, play hard. And find a person that does both of those things with you. See, you know, seamlessly you know, and work towards that. Work towards you know, having that person that is agrees with you that you’re for each other.


Matthew Hoffman  46:54

That’s great. Both good pieces of advice. I love it. So, if our listeners want to connect with you or follow you or learn more about what you’re doing, where’s the best place for them to look and find you?


Cheryl Pawelski  47:09

So, my company is “Omnivore Recordings. That’s a good place to start, it’s  just “” And I have a personal website where I still do some consulting work and stuff. So, it’s just “” Pretty easy. You’re a little well, you’re easy to find, but harder to find on the social media.


Audrey Bilger  47:30

 Yeah. My I’m, I’m the president of Reed Reed College in Portland, Oregon. And so I’m on I’m on the website there. I’m not as active on social media right now, because this it’s sort of a it’s a complicated environment, but I am on my.. 


Cheryl Pawelski  47:46

 Like you have time? 


Audrey Bilger  47:47

It is so true, but I think my social media handles are “@audreybilger” at various places. 


Cheryl Pawelski  47:52



Matthew Hoffman  47:52



Kimberly Hoffman  47:53



Matthew Hoffman  47:53

Great. And they can find your book and read that and listen to some great music and wow, we are.. 


Cheryl Pawelski  48:00

Ridiculously Googleable. How’s that?


Matthew Hoffman  48:03

Yeah, it can be a good thing, right? They can be easy to find. Well, good. Man. It’s been so much fun being with you both today and getting a slice of two different lives, but commonly bound in music and fun.


Kimberly Hoffman  48:18

 I agree. Yeah. What a beau, go ahead..


Audrey Bilger  48:23

That the sun has been the third party.


Cheryl Pawelski  48:25

We don’t know how to turn it down.


Matthew Hoffman  48:28

It’s the aura. That’s all right.


Kimberly Hoffman  48:30

It’s beautiful aura, just like you have a beautiful relationship. Ah, there it is. 


Matthew Hoffman  48:35

Yeah. That’s good. 


Kimberly Hoffman  48:37

No, you have a beautiful relationship. And you’ve been really open and vulnerable with us today. And we’re so grateful for that. So, thank you for sharing your time with us and sharing a little bit about yourselves.


Matthew Hoffman  48:48

We look forward to sharing the interview with with our audience, our listeners, and we’re grateful. So, thanks for the time and getting to know you a bit better. And we look forward to speaking with you again soon. 


Cheryl Pawelski  48:59

Great, thanks.


Audrey Bilger  49:00

Thank you so very much. This was fun. 


Cheryl Pawelski  49:01

It’s been big fun. 


Matthew Hoffman  49:03



Kimberly Hoffman  49:03

That’s all we’ve got for this episode of the Kickass Couples Podcast. If you liked the content of the show, you’ll love Matthew’s newly released book “Kickass Husband: Winning at life, Marriage, and Sex.” To receive a digital mini book of quotes and images from the book. All you have to do is rate this show and leave us a review in Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you tune into. Then email us a screenshot of your review at “” And we’ll get it over to you right away. Until next time, “Remember Happily Ever After Doesn’t Just Happen. It’s On Purpose.”