Dr. Barbara Fontana, PhD
 
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Barbara Fontana, Ph.D
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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

  • Consider this quote from Victor Frankl:

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom." When you are in that space with your partner, try choosing a response that says I care about you and our relationship.

  • The depth of our love can be measured by our efforts.

We demonstrate our love when we take that extra step: when we act in our partner's best interest, even when we don’t feel like it. It may mean listening -- really listening -- to their worries at 4 a.m. or texting a "just thinking of you :-)" during our busy workday (from Dr. Harville Hendrix's newsletter, 7/12/11). Show your love by your efforts today and every day.

  • Behind every complaint is deep personal longing (tweet from Dr. John Gottman, 8/6/11).

Try to figure out or ask your partner what they are longing for or need when they voice a complaint.

  • I found this quote, sent by a subscriber to my tips (thank you), to be a powerful reminder of how we affect our partners. Can you apply it to your own relationship?

"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming." -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  • "Our relationship is not a problem to be solved! It is an 'adventure' to be embraced…A gift to be unpacked...A mystery to be understood…A secret to be uncovered" (Hedy & Yumi Schleifer, newsletter August 2011).

Think of your relationship as an adventure, a gift, a mystery, a secret – there for your healing, growth and happiness.

  • In Imago we say conflict is growth trying to happen, "...It is 'maturity' knocking at the door inviting us:

Come, flourish, expand, prosper" (Hedy & Yumi Schleifer, newsletter August 2011). When you experience conflicts in your relationship, ask yourself what growth could come out of this for yourself and for your partner?

  • "Our relationship has a higher mission: to help each other 'reclaim our wholeness.' It is the acorn that becomes the oak, the potential that allows us to recover our full, innate, essential potential for aliveness, and to reconnect with our vitality, zest, vigor, awe, and wonder" (Hedy & Yumi Schleifer newsletter Aug. 2011).

By meeting each other’s needs, we help each other to become fully alive and whole. What can you do this week to better meet your partner's needs?

  • "People can only change if they feel that they are basically liked and accepted for who they are." (tweet from Dr. John Gottman, 8/28/11).

Does your partner feel liked and accepted by you? If not, focus on their good qualities and make every effort to let him/her know you do like them and accept them.

  • "Love is caring enough for the other person that one takes the sometimes painful experience of letting the other person be who they are." (Martin Buber).

It can be challenging to let your partner be who he/she is, to not try to change them. Try to be more accepting and less critical this week.