Dr. Barbara Fontana, PhD
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"Relationships & How to Make Them Work"

Barbara Fontana, Ph.D
45 Route 25A
Shoreham, NY 11786
Ph: 631-821-1880
Fax: 631-821-4750

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the Week
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Barbara Fontana, PhD - Psychologist & Imago Relationship Therapist
Suffolk County, Long Island, New York - Couples Therapy

Tips of the Week for Couples

  • "When triggering occurs, you can be sure that the past is present." (from Raphael Cushnir 2.18.16 email)

When you are triggered by your partner, try to stop, take a breath or two, and remember you probably are making up a story about what they just said or did based on your past. So often we misread our partner's intention/meaning; learn to ask and not assume you know. Try calmly saying "It sounds to me like you are _____; is that your intention or is that what you meant?"

  • Consider this tweet from @HarvilleHelen on 3/31/2016: "You can't cuddle up and relax with 'being RIGHT' at the end of a long day."

Do you stop your partner from being affectionate with you because you insist that YOU ARE RIGHT? Can you be open to the notion that neither of you is right or wrong; you just have different ways of looking at the world sometimes?

  • In a recent study, Dr. Amy Muise found that an active sex life is more important to a happy relationship than money (as reported in Health Day News, 11/18/2015).

Try to take time for sexual intimacy on a regular basis. It's good for your relationship.

  • Communication is important all relationships.

When a spouse or partner looks at his/her phone or texts while the other person is talking, it sends a strong message "you don't matter; whatever is on my phone is more important to me than you;" whether we intend to send that message or not. Make an effort not to look at your phone or text while your partner is talking to you; put it down, put it away or put it on silent; give your partner your full attention. It will strengthen your connection and help you to feel closer to each other.

  • When our partners grant us caring behaviors independent of our actions, our need for unconditional love appears to be satisfied (tweet from @Harville and Helen, 9/27/16).

Try doing one caring behavior for your partner every day. Something as simple as a caring text during the day or making eye contact when asking how was their day.

  • One study by Andrew Przybylski and Netta Weinstein (as reported in Psychology Today July/August 2016) found that Smartphones "inhibited the development of interpersonal closeness and trust and reduced the extent to which individuals felt understanding and empathy from their partners."

I encourage couples to have some "no device" time together every day. It could be the first hour you are home together at night, some time in the evening, before bed or in bed; you decide but whenever it is, your phones are where you can't see or hear them. It will give you an opportunity to be close again and to share some time together without the distraction of technology.

  • Random rewards for your partner create an air of uncertainty and expectancy that increases their impact on the receiver (tweet from Harville and Helen, 9/28/16).

Try "rewarding" your partner by doing or saying something kind, warm, or loving.

  • Ever notice a couple out to dinner and each is on their phone rather than talking to the other person?

Psychologist Dr. John Gottman's research has shown that unstructured moments (like being out for dinner) that couples spend together are an opportunity for conversation, laughter, a shared moment or observation and hold the most potential for building closeness and a sense of connection. When looking at a phone, people miss their partner's overtures to connect. Try putting away your phone in those unstructured situations and give you and your partner a chance to connect.

  • When couples have fun together they identify each other as a source of pleasure and safety, which intensifies their emotional bond (tweet from Harville and Helen, 9/18/16.)

Try making time for fun, something that brings laughter and smiles to both of you.

Psychologist Shoreham, Long Island | (631) 821-1880