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

  • "Words are an instrument to heal or wound, to connect or separate."

Try to think about the words you use with your partner this week. Do they heal or wound, connect or separate?

  • I tell couples that a thousand paper cuts can kill an intimate relationship or marriage meaning that many small hurts, over time, destroy feelings of intimacy and connection.

Pay attention to how often you do things to hurt your partner that's similar to "paper cuts" and try to decrease them.

  • I often see in my office that when one person is nasty, critical or angry, the other person either stops talking and shuts down or becomes defensive.

None of these behaviors help partners to communicate effectively. Try to eliminate them in the weeks ahead.

  • According to Dr. Harville Hendrix, we all have unmet needs from our childhood and look to our partner to met those needs and help us heal and grow.

When we are most frustrated or upset with our partner, it's usually because he/she is not meeting one of those unmet needs from childhood. The next time this happens, pause and try to figure out what is the underlying cause of your negative reaction. Do you remember feeling like this when you were a child? Share this with your partner to increase his/her empathy for your experiences.

  • Every day this week ask yourself:

What can I do today to love my partner the way he/she wants and needs to be loved? And then do it!

  • People often dwell on the past or worry about the future.

Try to be present and enjoy the moment when you are with your partner this week.

  • In Imago couples therapy, I ask both partners to remember that what you most want from your partner is often the hardest for him/her to give or do and what your partner most wants from you is often the hardest for you to give or do.

Try to be clear about what your needs are and patient with your partner if you see he/she is trying to meet your needs.

  • "Sometimes when people try to stay in (a marriage) with unresolved issues, they begin to shut down. It's like you see them dying."

Comment from Carol Grant Nuismer in AARP Magazine May/June 2011. If there are unresolved issues in your relationship and you are dying slowly, talk to your partner about whatever is bothering you. Consider couples therapy if you cannot resolve it on your own.

  • If you cannot improve your relationship or marriage on your own, seek professional help.

I think Imago Relationship Therapy is the best approach for working with couples. You can find a certified Imago therapist near you by visiting www.gettingtheloveyouwant.com.