The Relationship Therapist

The Relationship Therapist


Valentine's Day gift for you.
Deal breakers -- identify them before you fully commit!

Helping individuals and couples improve relationships by working with each person's unique strengths

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

The Relationship Therapist updated their address. 06/18/2022

The Relationship Therapist updated their address.

The Relationship Therapist updated their address.

The Relationship Therapist updated their business hours. 06/09/2022

The Relationship Therapist updated their business hours.

The Relationship Therapist updated their business hours.

Timeline photos 02/11/2022

Valentine's Day gift for you.

“I love you” on its own is nice but it’s more powerful when you’re specific. Love means something different to everyone. Get clear on what it means to you and what exactly you love about each other.

Here’s a great exercise to try this Valentine’s Day:

Sit across from your partner, gaze into each other’s eyes, and pretend they are from another planet. Make them understand what love is and what it isn’t. Describe the reasons why you love them. Don’t generalize or take shortcuts. Don’t say what you think they want to hear. Go into detail about all the reasons you love them, big or small.

Timeline photos 09/11/2021

Timeline photos

Risk exposing your full self to your partner. Secure-functioning partners embrace each other exactly as they are. In general, if a relationship is so fragile it can’t withstand the messiness and flaws in each partner, it will crumble. It’s not easy to risk finding this out, but it’s worth finding this out early. 💞

Timeline photos 08/01/2021

Timeline photos

Simply saying, “I’m sorry,” will not go far enough to put your partner at ease. What specifically are you sorry for? Naming it will make your partner feel heard and understood. They’ll be much more likely to feel like your apology is earnest when you are specific.

Timeline photos 07/31/2021

Timeline photos

Think of your relationship as a 3-legged race.

If one of you tries to go somewhere without the other? You fall.
If one of you tried to go too fast without the other? You fall.
If you collaborate and move with each other? You win.

Timeline photos 06/11/2021

Timeline photos

While in an argument with your partner, it can be tempting to get sidetracked as another issue pops up. Stay the course. Keep your arguments to one topic at a time. Don’t move on from one topic until the current issue is resolved to both of your satisfaction.

It’s hard enough to come to a mutual agreement and move the ball forward in an issue. Once you start juggling multiple topics at once, you are setting yourself up to come to an impasse, and perhaps even move backwards.

For more advice on resolving conflicts with your partner, you can sign up for my free 7 day guide to better fights here:

Timeline photos 06/10/2021

Timeline photos

It’s important that both you and your partner feel free to be all of who you are with each other. Tiptoeing around topics or being too careful around each other can be a sign that you’re not feeling you can be your full selves.

You have to risk exposing who you are to your partner. If the relationship cannot withstand that, it’s better to know now. That may be easier said than done, but the security that comes from being with a partner who embraces you for all your flaws is worth it.

We are all burdens, but in a secure-functioning relationship that burden is never too much or too overwhelming. You can take whatever the other may bring and deal with it skillfully in a fair and sensitive manner. If anything goes too far, you can let each other know and repair the issue.

Timeline photos 03/26/2021

Timeline photos

We all tend to think we’re better communicators than we actually are. In reality, we’re all pretty bad. Our brains work automatically most of the time and fill in whatever we don’t know with assumptions.

Accept that you and your partner are bad communicators so you can be extra mindful of the need to pay attention when important topics pop up. When you are having an important conversation, do everything you can to improve your ability to understand each other:

-Focus on one topic only
-Be clear and succinct
-Get rid of distractions
-Be in a place where you can make eye contact
-Check in to make sure you are understanding each other’s meaning as you talk

Timeline photos 01/05/2021

Timeline photos

Let go of the idea that you have to “love yourself before you can love someone else.”

We have and will always learn through our relationships with other people. You can learn to love yourself as you love someone else.

Don’t wait until you feel ready. You may never feel ready, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a secure relationship.


Our Negative Brain

Timeline photos 09/16/2020

Timeline photos

Have you ever been with a couple that is miserable to be around? Generally, these are partners who don’t accept each other fully and don’t take care of each other properly. Not only are they unpleasant for their friends to be around, but couples like this can create a problem for children as well.

To a child, the security of their parent’s relationship equates security in their home and creates the model for what that child will see as “normal” in relationships.

Timeline photos 09/08/2020

Timeline photos

Approximately 42 percent of first marriages end in divorce, and the average length of those marriages is only eight years. If you want to beat the odds, what’s the best way?

Prevention. Prevent the problems that lead to divorce by becoming experts on each other, accepting each other “as is,” and engaging in a secure-functioning manner that’s collaborative, fair, just, and sensitive.

Timeline photos 08/20/2020

Deal breakers -- identify them before you fully commit!

Beware of non-negotiable issues that would disqualify a partner from being in a long-term relationship with you. If there is anything that would truly be a deal-breaker for you, it should be addressed right away with your partner.

All of us loathe to lose out on the potential for everlasting love, which can make it easy to overlook these issues until we are forced to deal with them. Ignoring them will not make them go away, though. They will threaten your relationship and inevitably cause conflict between you and your partner.

It may be uncomfortable to address a deal-breaker, but it will never go away unless it is reckoned with.

Timeline photos 08/11/2020

Timeline photos

If a relationship is so fragile it can’t tolerate the messiness of each partner, including missteps and stupid mistakes, the relationship will crumble. Be willing to share all of who you are with your partner.

If you notice they seem to be cautious around you, it may be a sign they don’t feel comfortable being their true self. Be sure to give them the space and permission to be themself too.

Timeline photos 07/22/2020

Timeline photos

No matter where you stand on marriage or commitment, your relationships and their quality will greatly influence (if not determine) your health and happiness in life.

That’s because you need other people for a whole lot of important things, only one of which is companionship. Adult human beings require at least one other adult human being to help with self-esteem, self-knowledge, self-discovery, and self-improvement.

You need another person for silly things, such as letting you know if you have spinach in your teeth, and more significant things, such as helping you understand what you don’t know (and there are tons of things you don’t know).

Timeline photos 07/18/2020

Timeline photos

This is true on a relationship level and on a societal level. People must feel free to be their true selves in order to feel safe.

Create space for your partner to be themself and extend it to those around you. Everyone deserves to feel that they can be their true self without risk, no matter their s*xuality or gender identity. Happy Pride. 🌈 💕

Want To See Your Therapist In-Person Mid-Pandemic? Think Again 06/28/2020

Want To See Your Therapist In-Person Mid-Pandemic? Think Again

Lots of good reasons why I am sticking to online therapy until this pandemic is over!

Want To See Your Therapist In-Person Mid-Pandemic? Think Again We're stuck with teletherapy for now because viral safety procedures undermine the psychological safety psychotherapy requires.

Timeline photos 06/25/2020

Timeline photos

It’s common for people to overlook deal-breakers in order to avoid missing out on a relationship. Discussing deal-breakers is a difficult conversation, but it’s better to have that conversation early.

Any issue that threatens the security and integrity of a relationship must be dealt with at some point. The issue won’t go away on its own. It will be better for both of you if you deal with it early on.

Timeline photos 06/22/2020

Timeline photos

Beware of accruing injuries in your relationship. If you and your partner operate in a way that is unfair, unjust, or insensitive, injuries can build up.

All of this can give rise to the biological threat system in the brain. The person who was once your lover, though not physically dangerous, begins to be viewed as a predator by the "primitive" part of your brain.

Nobody wants this in their relationship. That’s why it’s so important to deal with issues right away, aim for win-win solutions, and tend to each other’s emotional needs.

Also, I must say I am talking about little "t" threat here - the type of threat that is normal and should be expected in any relationship, not big "T" Threat. If you are dealing with physical or emotional abuse from your partner, I implore you to seek help right away. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1−800−799−7233.

Timeline photos 05/20/2020

Timeline photos

Conflict is a part of being in a relationship. While I always say dealing with problems right away is important, that’s only part of the equation. How you navigate with your partner when arguments pop up matters.

I created this free 7-day guide to dive deeper into the best ways to resolve conflict in your relationship.

Send me a Facebook message for information on how to receive it.

Timeline photos 05/18/2020

Timeline photos

A “Third” is anything that draws attention away at the cost of the relationship.

Thirds can be people, work, tv, games – anything that can start to be prioritized over your relationship.

Make a clear agreement with your partner to put your relationship first to prevent thirds from taking over.

Timeline photos 05/14/2020

Timeline photos

How well can you and your partner soothe each other’s pain? Figure out what calms your partner in times of distress, so you can be an emotional resource for them. Explore using eye contact, physical touch, a soft tone of voice, humor, and your body language to relieve them when they are in distress.

Timeline photos 05/05/2020

Timeline photos

It may feel uncomfortable, but checking in with your partner’s eyes will allow you to better regulate each other’s emotions. You’ll be able to see how you are affecting each other in real time and repair any injuries you cause faster.

Timeline photos 04/29/2020

Timeline photos

You may or may not be isolated from your partner right now, but it’s very likely that you are isolated from friends and family. I want to encourage you to reach out to your loved ones over video calls, especially if anyone in your life is living alone.

The Study of Adult Development at Harvard University, which has tracked people since 1938, showed that the key to a long and healthy life is secure relationships.

Our connection to others is just as important as diet and exercise. As you practice social distancing physically, set time aside to connect with your loved-ones digitally.

Timeline photos 04/29/2020

Timeline photos

We are all learning as we go, and so much of what we need to know is dependent on the specifics of the person we’re with. You and your partner will have to train each other. Learn how your partner works and teach them how you work. ✏️💕

Timeline photos 04/27/2020

Timeline photos

You can only properly judge your s*x life according to what you and your partner want. Are you meeting each other’s needs? Do you have similar libidos? Do you enjoy s*x with each other?

Those are the questions that are worth asking. It’s not worth asking if your s*x life is as good as your friends or as good as what you see in the media. It’s not a competition. Plus, it’s very likely your friends are exaggerating and we certainly know the media is. 😏


During Covid-19, working with clients via video conferencing.


Dr. Stan Tatkin

Nothing against emojis, but you can't count on them to clearly communicate with your partner.


So important to approach arguing this way!

It’s likely that you’ll find yourselves in more disagreements with your partner during these next few weeks. You may be sharing your home as a work-space as you quarantine, you may be under stress after losing work, or you may be directly affected by the virus.

You are different people, with different opinions, and you’re under stress. Arguing is inevitable. What matters is that you approach your disagreements as a team.

Winning at the expense of your partner isn’t winning at all. You win by aiming for a solution that benefits both of you. 04/02/2020

China’s Divorce Spike Is a Warning to Rest of Locked-Down World

Don't be like China.

If you are having relationship difficulties during this strange time -- lockdown, quarantine, isolation, social distancing -- you can get couples' counseling online. Filings started rising in March as couples emerged from quarantine.


The PACT Institute

Sustained eye contact is extremely stimulating. If partners are looking to reignite exciting love similar to what they felt when they first met, encourage them to spend time gazing in each other’s eyes each day.


Dr. Stan Tatkin

I’m sure you’ve been with a couple that sucks the energy out of the room when they’re together. They throw each other under the bus, pull other people into their arguments, and take jabs at each other. It’s not only uncomfortable to be around, it chips away at the security of their relationship.

Secure-functioning couples protect each other in public. They have fun with their partner, not at the expense of their partner.

Come up with simple agreements as a couple that will allow you to play well in public. These can be:

- We will not disclose private information about each other.
- We will always have each other's back.
- We will save our arguments for times where we can be alone with each other.

Are there any agreements you would add to this list? 💕


Dr. Stan Tatkin

If you’re working at home or quarantining with your partner, it’s a good idea to come up with a list of agreements to carry you through this stressful time.

Deciding on guidelines ahead of time, when you’re calm and collected, will make it easier to navigate with each other when arguments arise.

These could include agreeing to:

- Keep arguments under 15 minutes (agreeing to return to the subject at a later time if need be)
- Be fully transparent about how you’re making each other feel
- Designated times of the day to be alone

Please share any ideas you have for agreements as well. 💞 I hope you and your partner stay safe and healthy during this time.


Dr. Stan Tatkin

Can you make your partner laugh? A shared sense of humor can prevent your relationship from becoming too rigid and brittle.

Figure out what makes your partner laugh. What do they find funny and what do they find offensive? Are they a producer of humor, an appreciator of humor, or both?


Ashburn, VA

Opening Hours

Tuesday 8:30am - 5pm
Wednesday 8:30am - 7pm
Thursday 8:30am - 5pm
Friday 8:30am - 7:30pm

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