Five Therapists’ #1 Tip For Couples

link to article about tips for couples

Therapist Steve Debenedetti-emanuelBy Steve DeBenedetti-Emanuel

Marriage and Family Therapist

In Midtown Sacramento

October 30 2019

Five Therapists’ #1 Tip For Couples

The primary intent of my blog has been to advise parents on how best to navigate the world of parenting adolescents. In this entry, I’m deviating from this to focus solely on couples (minus their kids.) With this in-mind, I asked some of the best marriage/relationship counselors I know to share in 100 words or less (give or take a few) their #1 tip when working with couples. Their tips are diverse and wise, and it’s fair to say that I’ll borrow freely from them in my work. I hope you, too, find these tips to be useful.

I’m fortunate that too many of my peers responded to my request for help for just one blog. Next time, more tips.

Should you want further information about these therapists, I’ve included their contact information.

This is from Ken Siegmann. He can be reached at:

In a disagreement it’s often the case that you can be right or you can have peace. But you can’t always have both. Choose peace. Whatever you’re disagreement about, it’s usually not worth the harm you may do by insisting on being right. Also, you don’t have to show up for every fight you’re invited to. If things start to get loud or escalated, it’s Ok to say something like “I really can’t participate in this, but I’m available to talk about it when we’re both calm.” Make sure you say it with kindness and gentleness. Whatever frustration you both may experience will be much less than you would by continuing to escalate until someone feels really hurt.

This is from Debra J Totton. She can be reached at:

Make a choice to love that person. Love (the feeling) will wax and wane while love the decision will remain strong.

This is from Jennifer Hayes O’Neill. She can be reached at:

I’m not exactly sure if I have a #1.  It’s kind of dependent on the clients. But I think a really important one is that each person needs to try to make the relationship a fun place to be. So often when things are hard the relationship just becomes a hard, stressful, sad place to be. Who wants to hang out there? Make it a fun, feel good place to be, in addition to working things out. Also, it helps them remember why they like each other. By the way, this is also a good thing to think about with kids-if you want them to hang with the family, make the family someplace they might want to hang rather than full of strife.

This is from Catherine Zanzi. She can be reached at:

Make an effort every day to sincerely show gratitude for something your partner has done or said. We usually find what we look for. Look for the good.

This is from Jeannette Phelan. She can be reached at:

Empathy and validation! Validating where your partner is coming from, even if you don’t agree with it, does wonders for communication and conflict resolution. Most couples can recite back what their partners have said to them, but lack the necessary combination of empathy and validation to help their partner feel “heard”. And, most couples believe that “validation” means that you agree with where your partner is coming from, even if you don’t! When couples are struggling, I often hear “He never listens!” or “she just keeps arguing until I shut up or walk away!” leaving most partners feeling empty and hurt, and certainly not “heard”. By attempting to understand where your partner is coming from, how they drew a particular conclusion to a series of events or communications, allows you to demonstrate an empathetic response that can help diffuse a heated situation. This might look like, “I’m not saying I agree with your position, but I can certainly understand how you might come to these conclusions!” to be followed by, “Here’s where I’m coming from…”

Since we therapists don’t have all the answers, I’d also love to hear from you. What’s your #1 tip? What works well with your spouse/partner?

About The Author

Therapist Steve Debenedetti-emanuelMy counseling practice is located in Midtown Sacramento and I focus of working with middle and high school students and adults. To learn more about me and how I work, feel free to contact me at 916-919-0218. Or at

I also write my blog on a regular basis. It focuses on parenting, relationship, and random stuff. It can be found on my website. Check out my recent posts; An Extra Shot Or I Shot The Sheriff and Even Buster Posey Gets Lonely. Other counseling material can be found on Facebook @River City Counseling and on Twitter @rivercitysteve. My Twitter page also includes ongoing conversations about coffee, growing succulents, and whatever else seems interesting. I hope you check it all out.

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