"I’m Not Your Mother"

for couples Feb 19, 2024

By Joy A. Dryer, PhD
PACT Certified Clinician, PACT Faculty

“And I’m not your mother!”

“No. You’re much sexier.” Eddie reaches for Eve’s hand. She pulls it back.

Eve shakes her brown curls ‘no’ and gazes past him at the floor. “Your mother bought one cupcake with a stupid candle for your birthdays. She made no big deal of Thanksgiving or other holidays. She was so different from my mother, who made me feel special when she celebrated events important to me.” She then looks directly at Eddie.

Eddie juts his chin forward, “You know that my mom’s parents couldn’t afford gifts so they let birthdays, even Christmas, slide. Also, well, you know, my mom believed in tough love. My parents didn’t spoil us."

Eve stamps her foot. “That’s an f-ing excuse! Making kids feel special doesn’t mean you spoil them!”

Eddie shifts in his chair. “I don’t see what this has to...

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It Takes Two to Kayak

for couples Jan 12, 2024

By Angela Aiello, Ph.D. LMFT
PACT Level 2 Therapist

It’s cliché, but it was really turning into the vacation from hell:

“Oh, for f***’s sake, you’re not maneuvering in the right direction.”
“Me? It’s you! You’re the one who steered us into the muck! Try to move the oars like this!”
“I’m trying, but you’re not letting me….”

We were literally stuck in the mud, batting back and forth harsh and unfriendly tones and escalating stage-whispers that would rival any Greek tragedy. My husband and I ran aground — and we were barely out of the boat slip. This normally would be a fun embarrassment, but this was about the tenth thing to go wrong on our much-anticipated and needed trip to Hawaii.

“Oh jeez, the kayaks are lining up behind us. This is horrible! This—
“But you don’t know what you’re doing!”
“Look at the sky!!!...

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Help! My Partner Won't Do Couple Therapy

for couples Dec 13, 2023

William Ryan, PhD
PACT Level 3 Therapist

Sarah and Dylan have been married sixteen years and have two children together. Over the last four years, Sarah has been increasingly dissatisfied in the marriage. She has repeatedly asked Dylan to do couple therapy with her. Dylan consistently responded by rolling his eyes, dismissing Sarah's concerns, and making it abundantly clear he felt pressured by her requests. Consequently, it got more difficult for Sarah to talk to Dylan about her dissatisfaction. She began to feel lonelier and more unpartnered in her marriage.

Every time Sarah brought up couple therapy, Dylan responded, “We’re fine. We don’t need it. If we have a problem, we can handle it ourselves." In this widespread dynamic, one partner pleads to get professional help for the relationship while the other balks at the idea.

Why do partners dispute the need for couple therapy? There are a multitude of reasons. Often the partner has adopted cultural prohibitions...

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Plan for Less Stressful Holidays This Year

for couples Nov 14, 2023

Ah, the holiday season — a time of celebration, togetherness, and making cherished memories with loved ones. AND a time filled with unique challenges, sometimes unrealistic expectations, and potential stressors that can strain even secure-functioning relationships.

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, couples find themselves in conflict as they navigate complex family dynamics and try to balance time and resources. 

Here PACT certified therapists explain why the holidays can be such a stressful time and offer practical strategies for you and your partner not only to survive the holidays but to find joy and connection in the midst of the chaos.


What are some of the pressures couples face that are unique to the holidays?

The holidays are like other special events like a birthday or anniversary, but they go on for several days or more. So, instead of a few hours, couples are figuring out how to spend several days or longer in a way that feels festive and good to...

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5 Ways to Fight Better with Your Partner

for couples Oct 18, 2023

By Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT
PACT Founder

The topic of your disagreement is not as important as how you handle the disagreement. Most issues boil down to errors in memory, perception, and communication. You can solve many of these mistakes by doing the following:

1. Make eye contact. If you are able to check in with each other’s eyes, you’ll be able to catch errors quicker and emotionally regulate one another. Drop all distractions when you have a disagreement and go face-to-face.

If you’re unable to do this when a disagreement pops up, address the issue but agree to return to the issue at a time when you can.

2. Slow down. It’s common for partners to go too fast when they get into a fight – to the point where they are speaking faster than they can think. Avoid making errors by taking a breath and consciously slowing down as you speak.

3. Be brief. Make a point and then allow your partner to make a point. You should have a nice back-and-forth. The longer...

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How PACT Can Help You Reimagine Your Money Differences and Dilemmas

for couples Sep 13, 2023

By Ed Coambs, MBA, MA, MS, CFP®, LMFT, CFT-I™
PACT Level 2 Therapist

Why is couples therapy important for the two of you?

For me, it comes from seeing and experiencing the relational, psychological, and physical pain that comes up around money and relationships. 

Early in my marriage, money became an overwhelming source of pain, confusion, anxiety, and distress. Over the course of my life, I have watched and experienced profoundly painful things happen related to money in my family life with nowhere to turn to sort through what this would mean. 

  • An ex-wife suing her ex-husband multiple times to the point of bankruptcy
  • A sibling struggling to make ends meet while my life flourished financially 
  • As a child experiencing my mom’s criticisms of my father's spending on home improvement projects 

There is so much more to each of these story segments and yet they are all related and connected in complex ways to my sense of self, mind, brain, and body....

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PACT Therapy: How It Works, Cost, and What to Expect

for couples Aug 15, 2023

By Krista Jordan, PhD
PACT Certified Candidate

PACT therapy is a highly dynamic form of couples therapy developed by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT. What distinguishes PACT therapy from all other forms of couples therapy to date is the integration of one of the newest areas of psychology and psychiatry — interpersonal neurobiology. This subfield focuses on the interaction of the brain and nervous system within and between humans.

Sessions are typically two to three hours long. While PACT therapy was developed originally to help couples in severe circumstances, it can be applied to almost any pairing. This includes parents and children, siblings, or even friends. If a couple (or pair) has very high levels of distress, sessions may need to be shorter (closer to an hour) but more frequent (instead of once a week, they may meet two to three times).

PACT & Attachment Theory

To develop PACT, Stan took important developments from interpersonal neurobiology and merged them with a...

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Mic Drop! Listen In as Stan Speaks Out

for couples Jul 17, 2023

PACT Founder Stan Tatkin has had a busy year promoting the principles and rewards of secure-functioning relationships. 

As a clinician, author, and frequent podcast guest, Stan pours his energy and expertise into caring for the smallest union of human primates — couples. In his latest book and over the airwaves, he dissects the common couple conflicts he has seen partners repeat throughout his career. 

Stan compels us to stop, just stop, look each other in the eye, and find common ground. Of course, relationships can and should be positive and fun-loving, but Stan cautions that for love relationships to last, partners must mutually abide by the key organizational principles that they create to avoid a chronic loop of arguments. 

In these podcasts Stan rinses, washes, and repeats the formula for genuine connection in secure-functioning relationships. He reminds us that as human primates, we constantly misunderstand each other and thus are prone to quick, negative...

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One Simple Ritual to Strengthen Communication Between Partners

By Falon Hooks, MA, t-LMFT
PACT Level 2 Therapist

If you are coming into my office for couples therapy, I can guess that one central concern is communication. Whether it is too infrequent, too intense, or too uncomfortable of a topic, many of you will sit lips pursed, hoping the unspoken moment will pass. 

Those micro-moments of anxiety and disconnection add up quickly. Before you realize it, you cannot remember the last time you sat facing your partner to chat and, more importantly, connect. 

When I consider how communication between partners must work, I immediately turn to secure-functioning principles of honesty and transparency. Just say what is true.

How many times have you felt a shift in your partner’s mood and the moment you inquire, they brush it off? Their replies range from a grunt to “Nothing” to “I don’t want to talk right now.” 

Alarm bells start to sound, you clam up, and you are quite certain trouble is looming. You...

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Proper Comanagement of Thirds

for couples Apr 14, 2023

Excerpted from In Each Other's Care: A Guide to the Most Common Relationship Conflicts and How to Work Through Them by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, LMFT (Sounds True, 2023)

As mentioned in chapter 2, any and all thirds that threaten the safety and security of the couple system should be comanaged by partners in a timely fashion so as not to disturb the peace. Thirds can be alcohol, drugs, people, tasks, work, porn, parents, children, friends, exes, pets, or electronics. If one primary partner experiences jealousy, that is certainly a sign of mismanagement by the other. The proper use of a third is to work with it—on it, for it, or against it—together and not separately. We’ll revisit this topic in chapter 9.

Work the Problem, Not Each Other

Learn to focus together on the task at hand whether it is a problem, a decision, a desire, a conundrum, or a plan. The issue between you is a third that must be managed together if you are to be an alliance and a team....

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