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

  • Dr. Suzanne Phillips wrote a blog for PsychCentral.com about knowing and being known by our partner.

She noted that: "Part of the vibrancy of a relationship is to cherish what was and look forward to what else can be." Are you open to knowing your partner as he/she changes over the years and sharing with your partner how you are changing?

  • Take a break from technology (no cell phones, computers, ipads, televisions, etc.) for 30 minutes each night or some other specific amount of time once or twice a week.

Interact with your partner instead and enjoy each other's company. See what effect it has on your connection.

  • This quote from David Augsburger is a good reminder of the importance of listening to your partner.

"Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable."

  • "We love those who make us feel good about ourselves." (marriage tip from Dr. Ellen Wachtel)

What can you do this week to help your partner feel good about himself or herself?

  • "In my experience there are four characteristics of a marriage that is working well: the couple has fun together on a regular basis, the sex life is mutually satisfying (in its frequency and nature), arguments don't get toxic and couples share what matters in their lives." (Avoiding Affairs blog by Dr. David Palmiter, Feb. 2013)

I agree that these are very important. Too often one or more are missing after a couple has been together for many years. How are you doing on these four characteristics? Ask yourselves what do we need to work on and then get to work.

  • Alain de Botton wrote in Psychology Today (Jan-Feb 2013): "Suffering sexual rejection by the person with whom we have pledged to share our life is much odder (than being rejected by a stranger) and more humiliating."

Both men and women tell me how awful they feel when their partner consistently rejects them sexually. Think about the effect on your partner before you say no when he or she tries to initiate intimacy.

  • Here is another quote from Alain de Botton (Psychology Today, Jan/Feb 2013) for you to think about:

"In an average week, each partner may be hit by, and in turn fire, dozens of tiny arrows without even realizing it. With the only surface legacies of these wounds being a near imperceptible cooling between the pair and, crucially, the disinclination of one or both to have sex with the other. Sex is a gift that is not easy to hand over once we are annoyed."

  • A survey of married couples found that happy couples reported the four most important factors were:

#1 communication, #2 friendship, #3 affection, and #4 sex. Spend a few minutes talking this week about each of these. Which areas are strongest in your marriage or relationship? Which ones do you need to work on? Agree on two or three things you can do in the next few weeks to improve the weakest area.

  • Consider this: "When your spouse feels genuinely loved by you, they are more open to your requests for change." (Dr. Gary Chapman)

Does your partner feel genuinely loved by you? If not, ask what would help them to feel genuinely loved.