6 Ways to Fight Fair: Keeping the Smart Parts of Our Brain Online

learn ways to fight fair

Conflict is unavoidable and it is counter-productive to try to avoid it. So, how do we manage conflict, or we can say fight fair? It is very simple, but not simplistic: we need to keep the smart-parts of our brain online for as long as possible. Stan Tatkin has dubbed the smart, slow-parts of our brain as ambassadors. Our ambassadors reside in the higher regions of our brain and they are what make us human. They give us the ability to effectively manage a complex society. Here is his Stan’s TED talk. He refers to the dumb parts of our brain… Continue Reading This Article

Managing Conflict Vs. Sweeping it under the Rug and Opening a Bottle of Coke

Couple talking productively

In any intimate relationship, conflict is unavoidable. Conflict can be seen as a sign of health as it demonstrates that both people are unique individuals. I do not suggest avoiding conflict and letting resentments fester. This is called sweeping it under the rug. When this occurs repeatedly, the contents under the rug will be an undeniable mound. This mound will be obvious to both partners as well as to others, and if the rug is unveiled all at once, there will be a mess. Letting a mound build under the rug is much like shaking a bottle of Coke. If… Continue Reading This Article

Sobriety is a Sign of Health, Not Failure

Mr. Hyde

A male in his late twenties — let’s call him Jim — was recently in my office to inquire if he is an alcoholic. While I did express some thoughts on the matter, I replied that that designation was ultimately for him alone to decide. Jim came to me because of unsavory experiences with alcohol. Often he would drink too much, black out, then do things he would later have to apologize for — although he has no recollection of doing those things. His conundrum was that he did not want to give up alcohol. He thought that would mean… Continue Reading This Article

Couple Therapy is a Sign of Health, Not Failure

A theme has recently been occurring in my practice. That theme is failure. A couple was in my office recently and they had expressed that they had hoped to handle their relationship difficulties “in-house.” They conveyed that since they were unable to do so, they had felt like failures. There is no denying that relationships are difficult. Because of that, we often need help. Insanity means doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. Thus, getting help with your relationship is not a sign of failure, but a sign of health. It signifies health as you two have taken… Continue Reading This Article

Connection is the Best Remedy for Addiction

Couple connecting

It is hardwired into our DNA and nervous system to bond and attach with a “stronger, wiser other” for our survival. In fact, severely emotionally neglected infants cannot thrive and eventually die without a nurturing other even if food, shelter, and water are provided. Philip Flores, PhD., author of Addiction as an Attachment Disorder states that individuals who have difficulty establishing emotionally regulating attachments [connecting] are more inclined to substitute alcohol and drugs for their deficiencies in intimacy. What is an emotionally regulating attachment? That is a relationship where you can share your humanness. It is a relationship where you… Continue Reading This Article

Ways to Rebuild Trust after an Affair

upset couple

The most basic benefit of being in a relationship is the confidence you derive from having a teammate you can rely on to help with the vicissitudes of life. Below is a chart of life: If we have a companion, confidant, and lover along the way, these unexpected dips and turns are easier to manage because you are not going alone. You know and trust that they will have your back through the inevitable pitfalls of life. When you have this trust, a sense of security is created. Affairs usually occur because one or both partners have gotten squirmy and… Continue Reading This Article

First Things First: The Primacy of Partnership in Blended Families

secure-functioning relationship

There is no magic bullet to maintaining and raising children within a blended family (a family with children from multiple relationships), and I am no expert in the finer points of day-to-day interactions in a blended family. But while working with couples who have blended families, I have observed that they do better when they follow one basic principle: they hold each other as primary in the relationship — or we could say, as the king and queen of the household. This may sound straightforward enough, but it is not always easy to put into practice, especially because overt and covert… Continue Reading This Article

Is Your Relationship Riddled with Substance Abuse?

addiction in marriage

Dealing with a partner who has substance abuse issues can be hugely complicated. It is as if you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. You love them deeply, but you cannot maintain the status quo. Every time they use it causes significant pain. You feel as if they are choosing their substance over you, and you are less important than their drug of choice. Even if he or she does get sober, or significantly reduces their use, past hurts have accumulated, making it difficult to go back to the way things were. So the emerging question is,… Continue Reading This Article

Important do’s and don’ts for a healthy relationship

happy couple

Because relationships are difficult, we need to be proactive. This entails both doing and not doing certain things. Here, I made a list of important do’s and don’ts. Constantly remind your partner through words and behavior that they are your number one priority. Learn what uplifts your partner’s mood. What do they like to hear? How do you make your partner feel loved? Be familiar with the raw spots of your partner. What triggers your partner’s fears and vulnerabilities? How may you be inadvertently triggering them? Let your partner influence you. Don’t think your way is the only way. Don’t… Continue Reading This Article