Blog Posts by Tina Tessina

  • Fair Fight Guidelines

    Thirty years of marriage counseling and twenty-five years of a second marriage have convinced me that fights are not necessary in a marriage. Married couples need to have discussions, they need to solve problems, and sometimes they need to disagree, but they don't need to squabble, argue, bicker or fight. Fights are dramatic, which is not helpful to a discussion. If you have enough energy to create drama, you have more than enough to tone it down into a discussion. However, because social expectations and mythology are so strong, many of my clients want guidelines for "fighting fair." I've developed a set of Fair Fight Guidelines you may find helpful.

    Fair Fight Guidelines
    If you feel a fight is unavoidable, you can still find a win-win resolution if you follow these guidelines.

    • Remember the point of the fight is to reach a solution, not to win, be right, or make your partner wrong.
    • Don't try to mind read. Ask instead what he or she is thinking.
    • Don't bring up all the prior

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  • Dear. Dr. Romance: Every Time We Talk, I'm in Tears and He's Mad

    Dear Dr. Romance:

    I have been married for 17 years and thought we had a great marriage. 10 years ago I got hurt and have had 6 back surgeries. At one point I would double up on meds and drink to ignore life. During this time my husband was an angel; until he discovered I was taking more meds and drinking. He was so repulsed that i was doing this to our family. He would talk to his friend (a girl) and began to have some feelings. He attempted to kiss her and she did not respond but the thought that he wanted someone else is destroying me. I really did not realize what I was doing to my family. Everything became strained when he threatened to leave. I cleaned up my act and an doing pretty good although our marriage is still in trouble. He doesn't know if he could love me like before. I did do a lot of awful things when I was od-ing. Why can't we get past this? We are seeing a marriage counselor but I don't think it's doing anything there is so much to say. I just want to love my

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  • Emotions as Weather

    Although most people in the country wouldn't agree, we in Southern California have been having extreme weather conditions for us: rain and mudslides. You could almost say we're so used to mild conditions that we become afraid of what others would call "real" weather-weather wimps. Being afraid, ashamed of, or embarrassed by your feelings is like being afraid of the weather, because emotions (tears, panic attacks, angry outbursts, withdrawal, depression, elation, lust, romantic excitement, euphoria) are the weather conditions of the inner self.

    Certainly there are weather conditions that are fearsome, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, exploding volcanoes and fierce fires, and we need to control these if we can, and protect ourselves from them. But, like the weather, most emotional climate conditions are pretty mild.

    My clients have found it very helpful to use the metaphors of weather to understand how natural and normal all feelings are. Here are my thoughts on the

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  • Dr. Romance (with Alex Franzen) "Do. Not. React."


    Tips for surviving & mastering confrontation, with grace -in business & in love.

    Pop quiz, people:

    How do you drop an atom bomb of sudden, unexpected (and quite possibly, undesirable) information on someone you care about - without behaving like a cruel, dispassionate ogre?

    AND! If you're the unfortunate recipient of the aforementioned atom bomb, how do you respond with compassion - instead of setting off a furious chain reaction?

    To answer incendiary questions like these takes a powerful team, and Dr. Romance has teamed up with the amazing copywriter & blogger Alex Franzen


    to answer these questions.

    Out of the Blue.

    Last May, a stranger named Alex tweeted me to say: "Congratulations on 30 years of partnership & loooove, @tinatessina! You're a marvel, a maven, & a romance inspiration." And I responded: "I love that you said this, Alex! Let's be friends. I've just discovered you, but I love your amazing creativity and upbeat

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  • Dr. Romance Video: Improving Relationships Between Parents and Stepchildren

    To view video, click here.

    Ah, the ugly step parent, celebrated and villainized in fairy tales. Do you have to take on the role? "Dr. Romance" licensed psychotherapist and author, says you don't, and shows you how to manage to be the kind of step-parent that causes your children will say "My step-parent was the best thing that ever happened to our family."

    Dr. Romance's 4 tips to smoother stepparenting

    1. Give your blended family a chance to bond. Don't worry if everyone doesn't settle in right away; bonding takes time. Hopefully, you all got to know each other before you moved in together, but the transition to living comfortably together can take time.

    2. Have family meetings weekly. Give everyone (kids, too) a chance to share how they feel, what they like and don't like, and ask them to share both positive and negative opinions. Invite suggestions about how to make things better. Shared times, such as mealtimes, are important -- but each person needs a break, too.

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  • Dear Dr. Romance: I Love Him to Death but Can't Find a Solution

    Dear Dr. Romance,

    My name is Michelle i am 18 years old.. I was reading an article that you posted up about fighting; and everything that you talked about not doing during a fight I tend to do. I have been with my boyfriend for 3 years now and we tend to fight a lot about the smallest things that you could possibly imagine. I am usually the one who doesn't blow up or yell. I tend to hold everything in, but I do cry a lot. He says really hurtful things that hurt my feelings. When I do get mad I try to win the fight and prove my point instead of trying to find the solution like you say. When he gets mad he yells and even calls me names like a bitch or a dumbass, which hurts my feelings.. and I tell him constantly that I don't like when he does that because I don't do that to him so why does he do that to me and his response is because I act dumb. but in all honesty doctor I don't think I act dumb. I just like to talk about ways to improve our relationship and he is a very closed

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  • Dear Dr. Romance: Should I Say Yes to Him?

    Dear Dr. Romance:

    My boyfriend of a month and a week was planing a surprise for my birthday (he was trying to keep it a secret.) well we got in to a fight 3 days ago and last night I took him back. He was talking to my bff on im and he told her I took him back and told her he was going to propose to me on my birthday to prove that he loves me, and he was stupid and told me he had a big
    surprise for me. I didn't want to wait and he wouldn't tell me then he says that she knows so don't ask her.

    I did and after about an half hour of begging her to tell me he got online and she told him I was mad cuz she wouldn't tell me. Well I figured it out and I asked her and she wouldn't tell me if I was right so I assumed I was and they were talking about it and he asked her to lie to me and say that's not what he was planing she ended up sending me that part saying damn it she knows please tell her no that's not it she said I'm not fond of lyin and he said please. Well I freaked out a

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  • Dear Dr. Romance: What Does Fighting in a Relationship Mean?

    Dear Dr. Romance:

    Ok. So my boyfriend and I are 11 months strong, but for the past maybe 4 or 5 months it has been on and off fighting.

    From big and important things to tiny pointless things. I dont understand why this is happening to us.. why? How can this be resolved? I need help!

    Dear Reader:

    Every couple has to work out differences, but it sounds like you may have gotten polarized into competition with each other. Instead of fighting about who is right and who is wrong, switch your focus to "what are we going to do to fix the problem?" If he insists he's right, don't argue that you're right; instead, bypass the argument by asking "what do you think will solve the problem?" If he says it's all your fault, ignore that and ask what will fix it. If he wants you to do something about it, say "Okay, I will do that if you will do this." For guidelines on how to work problems and differences out without fighting, see Money, Sex and Kids:Stop Fighting about the Three

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  • Dr. Romance Video: How to Propose Marriage

    If video doesn't load, click here

    OK, guys, you're (gulp) ready to pop the big question. But you've seen those videos of lavish proposals that went wrong. How do you ask her in a way that's got an excellent chance of getting a happy "yes!" in response? "Dr. Romance" shows you how to set yourself up for success and a lifetime of happiness.

    Dr. Romance on how to propose

    1. Keep it simple: Don't make your proposal plans too elaborate. The more complicated the proposal plan, the more likely something will go wrong. Make it a private moment, between just you two. You can save the big splash for the engagement announcement. If you guessed wrong about your partner's willingness, you'll be disappointed, but at least you won't be publicly embarrassed.

    2. Talk about it beforehand, in general terms: Don't spring a proposal on a partner who may not be prepared to decide. Instead, ask questions for several weeks beforehand, like "What do you think about marriage?" "If we ever got

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  • Stupid Cupid

    Miley Cyrus is only 19, and she's just gotten engaged to Liam Hemsworth. Will it last? Well, the fact that it's a celebrity match is not in its favor -- celebrity couples don't have a great track record. As a little pre-wedding gift, here's what Miley and Liam can do to make sure they're ready for a long, happy marriage.

    In my counseling practice, I see lots of couples who don't make it, because they're not prepared, and their expectations are out of line with reality.

    In my counseling practice, however, I see lots of couples who don't make it, for various reasons.

    Cupid, the god who represented love to the ancient Romans, was blind. In mythology, he's been represented as a cherub, a perpetual baby, (which means someone without wisdom or judgement) who flies around zapping people with his arrows, throwing them helplessly into infatuation with whomever they happen to be with when the arrow strikes. This is a great metaphor for the sensation of "falling in love" instantly, otherwise

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