The Relationship Therapist

Helping individuals and couples improve relationships by working with each person's unique strengths, goals, personality style, and social context.

Helping individuals and couples improve relationships by working with each person's unique strengths, goals, personality style, and social context.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Communication is difficult. We can approximate what’s in another person’s mind, but we can’t understand each other exactly.

That’s why it’s so important to put in the extra effort to make sure you are being understood AND that you are understanding your partner. Slow down and get as clear as you can with each other.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Protect your partner during Thanksgiving. Be careful not to throw them under the bus, side with someone else over your partner, or reveal private information about your partner.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

If you’re looking for a partner, think about the kind of relationship you want to have. What principles do you want to guide your relationship? Once you’re clear on those principles, look for someone who wants that kind of relationship.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

When we’re under stress, our brains can’t manage multiple topics at once. It’s hard enough to do this when we’re calm.

Keep your arguments focused on one topic at a time, so you can actually accomplish a resolution that benefits both of you. Whatever gets brought up first, gets dealt with first.

Mind Spa by Isha Malik

Gaslighting is an abusive tactic aimed to make a person doubt their own thoughts and feelings. The abuse is often subtle at first. For example, if a person is telling a story, the abuser may challenge a small detail. The person may admit they were wrong on a detail, then move on. The next time, the abuser may use that past “victory” to discredit the person further, perhaps by questioning the person’s memory.

The person may argue back at first. They may intuit something is wrong in the relationship or marriage. But because each gaslighting incident is so minor, they can’t pinpoint any specific cause for their unease. Over time, the person may second-guess their own emotions and memories. They may rely on their abuser to tell them if their memory is correct of if their emotions are “reasonable.” The abuser uses this trust to gain control over their target.

Popular culture often depicts gaslighting as a man abusing his wife. Yet people of any gender can gaslight others or be gaslit themselves. Gaslighting can also occur in platonic contexts such as a workplace. Anyone can be a target.

Gaslighting can take many forms. Sometimes it can involve manipulating a person’s environment behind their back. Other times, the abuse is entirely verbal and emotional.

Common techniques include:

Withholding: Refusing to listen to any concerns or pretending not to understand them.
Example: “I don’t have time to listen to this nonsense. You’re not making any sense.”

Countering: Questioning the target’s memory. An abuser may deny the events occurred in the way the target (accurately) remembers. They may also invent details of the event that did not occur.
Example: “I heard you say it! You never remember our conversations right.”

Forgetting/Denial: Pretending to forget events that have happened to further discredit the victim’s memory. An abuser may deny making promises to avoid responsibility.
Example: “What are you talking about? I never promised you that.”

Blocking/Diversion: Changing the subject to divert the target’s attention from a topic. An abuser may twist a conversation into an argument about the person’s credibility.
Example: “Have you been talking to your sister again? She’s always putting stupid ideas in your head.”

Trivializing: Asserting that a person is overreacting to hurtful behavior. This technique can condition a person into believing their emotions are invalid or excessive.
Example: “You’re so sensitive! Everyone else thought my joke was funny.”

A gaslighter often uses the target’s “mistakes” and “overreactions” to cast themself as the victim. For example, an abuser may scream accusations at a person until the other party must raise their voice to be heard. The abuser may then cut the conversation short, claiming the other person is “out of control” and “too aggressive.” In some cases, the abuser may accuse the other person of being the true gaslighter.


#GasLighting #EmotionalAbuse #Trauma #ToxicPeople

Mind Spa by Isha Malik

POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION can affect women in different ways. It can start at any point in the first year after giving birth and may develop suddenly or gradually.

Many women feel a bit down, tearful or anxious in the first week after giving birth. This is often called the "BABY BLUES" and is so common that it's considered normal.
The "baby blues" don't last for more than 2 weeks after giving birth.

If your symptoms last longer or start later, you could have postnatal depression.


👉 Sleep disturbance, unrelated to baby's sleep needs
(Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when her
baby is asleep)
👉 Inability to cope with daily chores and demands.
👉 Diminished appetite/ Increased appetite (comfort eating)
👉 Feelings of inadequacy(not feeling good enough) i.e Fear
that you're not a good mother.
👉 Guilt.
👉 Loss of confidence and self esteem.
👉 Sadness of mood, crying spells.
👉 Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby.
👉 Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy.
👉Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to
👉Intense irritability and anger.
👉Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make
👉Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family.
👉Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional
attachment with her baby.
👉Persistently doubting her ability to care for her baby.
👉Suffering from physical aches and pains, including
frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain.

#PostPartumDepression #Depression
#ChildBirth #BabyBlues #MoodDisorder

Dr. Stan Tatkin

If you’re looking for a partner, ask yourself what kind of relationship you want.

Do you want a relationship based on radical loyalty?

Do you want to be fully transparent with your partner?

Do you want the relationship to come first?

Do you want your relationship to be infused with playfulness?

Ask yourself these kinds of questions and see if the person you’re dating wants the same things. Creating a secure-functioning relationship starts with making sure you both have the same vision.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

A Harvard study started tracking men in 1938 in hopes of finding what contributes to a healthy and happy life. The study began to include the men’s children and then women in this longitudinal study.

What surprising factor did they find contributes to a long, healthy, and happy life?

Secure relationships.

The study found that the level of satisfaction with relationships in midlife proved more important than genetics for longevity.

This is no excuse not to exercise, but it’s a good reminder that our relationships (romantic and otherwise) should be a top priority. 🥰

Dr. Stan Tatkin

There’s an evolutionary reason for this. Parts of our brain are specialized for picking up threat and danger. That's how we’ve survived as a species.

The automatic part of our brain is very good at picking up dangerous sounds, faces, movements, gestures, contexts, etc.

That’s all great for survival, but those parts of our brain don’t turn off when we’re with our loving partners.

This is why becoming an expert on each other is so important.

Every person has different triggers. When you learn what your partner finds dangerous, you will be able to avoid problems and fix them quicker when they occur.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

You and your partner got together for a reason. If you’re in a difficult period in your relationship, check back in with that reason. Why did you chose each other?

People need people!

Many of us feel as if we’re “do-it-yourself” people. Our culture values independence, but I’m here to make the case that none of us really do better alone.

Another person can greatly enrich your life and help you in ways you may fall short on your own.

Practically, another person can help you:

• Accurately guess, understand, and reflect back to you what you’re going through
• Amplify your positive feelings and experiences, and assuage negative feelings and experiences
• Provide guidance and push you more than you would push yourself
• Step in to help when you’re in trouble, emotionally or otherwise
• Boost your self-esteem

You may not want to form a secure-functioning relationship with one other person, you may prefer to date around or fill those emotional needs with friends.

How your relationships are formed doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you have close relationships. 💗

Text fighting doesn't work!

Avoid diving into any arguments until you’re able to be face-to-face with your partner. Starting a fight over a text message will never end well.

This is not only because you’re more likely to misunderstand each other over texts, but because you’ll be able to regulate each other’s emotions when you can make eye contact.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Putting your relationship first will help you have the time and energy for everything else that’s important to you. 💓

Dr. Stan Tatkin

If you typically respond to that question with, “Nothing,” try this exercise with your partner.

1. Agree that you and your partner will ask, when the other is least expecting it, “What are you thinking?”

2. The other must answer without hesitation. “Nothing” won’t cut it. And don’t worry about significance. If you’re thinking about what you want for lunch, say that.

3. Practice until both of you can respond without thinking about what to say.

Doing this exercise will help you be more open and transparent with your partner. If you get used to talking about the little things, it will be easier for you to communicate openly when something big comes up.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

It’s my hope that you and your partner’s top priority is your relationship, but even if it’s not, make sure you at least agree on what that priority is.

That priority will dictate all future decisions you both make. Agreeing on what’s most important will help you avoid problems down the road.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Justifying your mistakes won’t get you very far. Getting specific about what you did wrong and owning up to your mistakes will.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Happy to be quoted in this great piece in O, The Oprah Magazine If you’re wondering why people ghost so often now, read this. 👻💖

The PACT Institute

Secure-functioning is not about love, it’s about safety and security. You can define love in a myriad of ways, but secure-functioning has a more specific meaning.

Secure-functioning relationships are fully collaborative, supportive, and based on fairness, justice, and sensitivity for each other.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

If you haven’t already agreed to be fully transparent with each other, it’s a good idea to talk about this. Being fully transparent is a lot less work and a lot less stress than keeping secrets.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

We’ve all been taught to compromise when we reach a disagreement. The problem I have with this approach is that it implies that both sides will lose something.

Instead, I want to encourage you to bargain with your partner. When we bargain with someone, we try to give them something they want in return for what we want.

It’s much easier to reach a win-win solution when we take our partner’s needs into consideration.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

The only way to deal with a problem is to talk about it. Anything you don’t deal with now will only get worse with time.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

No one can handle more than one topic under stress. If you want to solve a problem with your partner, be sure to stay on topic. Whoever brings something up first gets to decide what that topic is.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

In fact, if you avoid conflict, you can become threatening to your partner. Don’t be afraid of getting into arguments with each other.

You are two different people. You’re bound to disagree and rub each other the wrong way at some point. Dealing with those problems as they come up will help foster a sense of safety in your relationship.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

No. Fostering a secure and safe relationship has nothing to do with eroticism. It’s about creating a space where you and your partner can live your best lives together.

Erotic excitement can come from sustained eye contact, touch, or doing new things together. It doesn’t have to come from threatening your relationship.

So important to comfort and soothe each other!

If you notice you’ve hurt your partner, aim to relieve them before continuing with your argument. You’ll need to soothe them or you’ll lose them as an audience.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Secure-functioning relationships are about survival. This is what I mean by that.

Advice about ending a relationship.

Ending a relationship is never easy, but neither is staying in a relationship that isn’t secure. If there’s anything that threatens the security of your relationship, deal with it now. It’s possible the relationship may have to end, but if that’s the case it’s better that that happen now rather than kicking the can down the road.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

This may seem obvious, but it’s worth saying. You are separate people with different needs and sensitivities. Dedicate yourself to becoming an expert on your partner, instead of assuming they’re the same as you.

Learn what bothers them. Learn what makes them feel loved. Learn everything you can about what makes them tick.

Nobody's perfect! Find someone with compatible imperfections.

There is no easy person on the planet. When you’re looking for a partner, put away that “perfect partner” checklist. Look for imperfections you can love.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

How many fights have you had with your partner over cleaning or being on time?

Dr. Stan Tatkin

This blog post is important for parents who are divorcing to read.

Ending a relationship is especially difficult when you’re parents. In this blog, Edna Avraham does an incredible job of showing how secure-functioning principles can help parents who have made the decision to end their relationship.

Infidelity: Can couples recover?

It is possible, but I do recommend you work through infidelity issues with a couple therapist. The most I can give here is general advice.

Infidelity can be any serious betrayal of your agreements as a couple, not just an affair.

The worst kind of betrayal is the reveal of information that if previously known would have changed everything. That includes affairs, but can also be hidden bank accounts, having an STD, or any other serious cover-up.

For the one who was betrayed: Remember, if you wish to continue the relationship, you now have all the power to claim your terms for going forward. These relationships are pay to play. Don't surrender your role in calling the shots at this point.

For the one who did the betraying: I would recommend that you accept the position of having no power for the time being. You don't really have any leverage for now unless you're planning to leave the relationship. Is your partner complicit in some way? Possibly. But now is not the time to make that point.

Your partner will need time to heal (sometimes up to a year). That time can be shortened or lengthened depending upon your attitude and behavior. If you remain entirely open, transparent, patient, compassionate, and non-defensive, healing is much faster.

However, if you are defensive, not forthcoming, impatient, dismissive, angry, or indifferent, the process will definitely lengthen.

Your partner will likely show signs of PTSD: mood instability, sleep problems, obsessiveness, paranoia, perseveration, flashbacks, etc. This is not in their control.

My recommendation is that you take ownership over your new labels of "liar and cheater" and do not expect to be trusted or forgiven. Take it, learn, and grow. You will become a better person for having done that. If you both stick to your roles in this healing process, your relationship can be better than it ever was.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

We learn about ourselves and others in an atmosphere of play. This learning started in childhood and continues into adulthood. Allow playfulness to be a part of your routine as a couple, whether that’s in sex, daily chores, or arguments. 🙃💗

Connect with your partner this way to feel more connected.

Try this exercise with your partner to get better at reading how they are feeling.

Sit across from each other and relax your bodies. Keep your focus outward, except to occasionally sweep your body for areas of tension to relax.

Keep your attention focused on your object of “meditation,” your partner’s face. Pay attention to any shifts you see in their facial muscles, coloring, eye movements, pupil size, and head movements.

With every shift or change your notice, use your index finger to gently tap your thigh.

The first step to reading someone’s face is to notice tiny shifts and changes. Don’t interpret. Don’t read into changes. Just start with observation.

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Ashburn, VA

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