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: 516-982-1199

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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

  • Do it as a "gift" to him or her without expecting anything in return.

Do one nice thing for your partner each day; one act of kindness or thoughtfulness.

  • Give up criticism.

When we criticize we say something negative about the other person: you are lazy, you are a slob, you are a nag. These remarks are hurtful and often trigger the other person becoming angry and defensive. See next week's tip for an alternative approach.

  • Use sentences that start with "I" rather than "you."

For example, I feel invisible when I come home and you ignore me; I feel angry when I see your clothes on the floor; I would appreciate it if you would call me if you are going to be late so I don't worry about you.

  • The traits you hate in your spouse are, most often, traits that you also, unconsciously, hate in yourself.

Try to accept those traits as part of who you are and part of who your spouse is. It may help to remember that none of us are perfect and we all have both positive and negative qualities.

  • Surprise your spouse.

Buy or do something that you know will delight them. It could be renting a movie they said they wanted to see or coming home with their favorite coffee.

  • "...Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reasoning and arguments. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding."

This quote from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn reminds us that blaming another person does not work; what works is understanding the other. I find it helps to remember that whatever your partner says or does makes sense to him or her even if it makes no sense to you.

  • Make "moments of connection" special.

Research shows that certain moments in your day, as a couple, do matter. These are: when you first awake, when you leave for work, when you return home and when you say goodnight. Take the time to greet each other, hug, kiss, look at each other eye to eye or anything else that helps you two feel connected.

  • Remember love is like oxygen, we need it for survival.

Find ways to demonstrate your love for your spouse/partner many times each day.

  • Dr. Sue Johnson says we all have a basic need for "felt security."

Be a safe haven for your spouse/partner to go to.

  • You can increase your partner's "felt security"...

...by showing them that they matter and by trying to meet their needs.

  • Your spouse/partner can read the emotion on your face in a fraction of a second, long before you say a word.

Be aware of what you communicate by your facial expressions.

Psychologist Shoreham, Long Island | (516) 982-1199