The difference between happy and unhappy couples is how well the couple repairs after a dispute.

What begins as a simple disagreement can turn into yelling, name calling, and not speaking to one another for days.

Sound familiar? We've all been there. The good news is that you can interrupt this dysfunctional dance and restore harmony to your relationship.

These top 10 tips will help you and your partner reclaim a happier and stronger union:

1. Remember during challenging times, relating with our partner can often activate intense feelings.

This can stir up past wounds that land us in hurtful arguments with one another that seem to go nowhere. This can leave us feeling exasperated and hopeless. It is important to develop greater awareness of when and how conflict happens, and to discover new tools like skillful communication to better manage these challenging moments.

2. De-escalate. Communication skills are needed when there is a conflict, however, you can’t effectively communicate from a heightened and activated state.

When we get triggered our nervous system is in fight/flight/freeze mode. First order of business is to de-escalate. Tips and Tools: ground, breathe, re-establish connection to oneself (I’m ok, even though I’m upset.) Thinking goodwill towards our partner and saying to ourselves phrases like “I want to work this out with my partner.”

3. Have Your Feelings. Notice what feelings are coming up and name them: anger, grief, etc.

Say it inside your head or out loud: “I am angry. I am sad. I am ashamed.” Self-validate. Cry if needed. Spend time with your feelings.

4. Self-Soothe. Put your hand on your heart and remember we all make mistakes.

Summon self-compassion—this was not the outcome you wanted, you didn’t intend to lose it. Imagine how you would feel toward a friend who had made this mistake. Remind yourself you won’t feel like this forever (you won’t, I promise!)

5. Learn What You Can From It. Something isn’t working.

What is the message or learning here? What are the unmet needs? What do I want/need? What does my partner want/need? Notice how you feel about allowing things to be as they are or being imperfect?

6. Communication Listen like a meditation: Be present with what is there to be heard. Be attentive and curious.

Try to relax and allow the free fall of not grasping to fixed ideas and concepts. While initially this may feel frightening, it is inherently an enlivening and enjoyable experience. The art of listening is that you don’t need to agree or disagree with what you are receiving. Try to be curious and open to what is being said.

7. Claiming Communication as Creative (rather than Competitive)

Both the listener and the receiver need to be engaged, in a place of mindfully taking on the responsibility of communication as a creative act. What we say, and how we say it, matters. Allow for the back and forth of communication. Being for the other person not seeing them as your enemy (although it may feel like that sometimes!)

8. When you are the speaker. Stepping into the “I” fully.

Taking responsibility not just for your desire to be received, but for the partner’s availability...what can help them feel receptive? Recognize that you are in fact asking for something.

9. When you are the listener. Do not simply repeat what your partner has said.

Often we feel like we’ve got the point, perhaps you think you have heard it before which can lead to an impatience when your partner keeps speaking. The key to listening is giving the other person the experience of being heard. Remember that the person speaking is your friend, and there’s some measure of truth to what they are saying (certainly their experience, but also the situation they are speaking about).

10. Apology. Purpose of ego is to be self-protected.

When someone brings a grievance to us our natural and unconscious response is to be defensive. We listen for exaggerations, inaccuracy, and for a judgmental tone of voice in our partner. This is to say that to do an apology well is not easy.

If you offer an apology, there are 3 ways to muck it up:

  1. Don’t put a BUT in there. I’m sorry but....(negates apology)
  2. Don’t apologize for the other’s feelings.
  3. Don’t apologize to shut down the conversation.

Recovering from a fight can take time so allow yourself to move through these steps spaciously. 

Even if you both agree that the fight is over practice extra kindness and respect until your relationship is back on track.

For your convenience, I offer telephone or online therapy. We can connect for sessions while you're in the comfort of your own home or office. All you need is an internet connection and a private space to talk.

"Sophie is an exceptionally present, insightful, and caring therapist. I have learned so much from her in the time I have known her. In a really unassuming and warm way, she brings so much wisdom and clarity to her work. You can tell she both draws from her beliefs and from her own personal experience. I would refer other people to her without reservation."

- RS

"Sophie is an amazing blend of the most important qualities you can find in a therapist: she is warm, honest, smart, extremely intuitive and super fun when the moment calls for it! She offers deep compassion that inspires bravery in the face of life's big challenges. As a colleague, I highly recommend Sophie's work."

- CC

“Sophie is a rare experience of embodied wisdom and skillful practitioner. I have referred both individuals and couples to her practice with exceptional results. She offers a seamless integration of somatic and psycho-dynamic skills.  She is genuine, warm, insightful, and is strikingly empathic.  Her empathy is a gift.  This unique combination makes her qualified for a wide range of clients.”

- ML

“I would recommend Sophie to anyone looking for a skilled, seasoned, deeply compassionate, caring and professional therapist. She is insightful and thoughtful and also has a great sense of humor. Highly recommend!”

- MD

"Sophie has helped me over the years develop a better understanding of who I am, what I really need, and how to develop the skills to go for it!
I would say the main thing that Sophie offers is a quality of presence that is genuinely interested and deeply compassionate. And she tracks everything! It amazes me how completely she is paying attention. She is a very skilled and helpful therapist. Thank you Sophie!"

- JM

“I immediately felt comfortable talking with Sophie.  She really put me at ease and made me feel safe right off the bat.  I have never met a more compassionate or empathic therapist.  Sophie really treats you with integrity and the utmost respect.  I never felt that I had to censor myself at all.”

- TG

"I worked with Sophie weekly for eight years. I will miss her as she leaves San Francisco for the next chapter in her life. My life has been enriched as the result of working with her in ways I could never satisfactorily describe. Sophie is a special human being. She is a gifted listener who holds a compassionate, non-judgmental space. She is an articulate teacher full of profound wisdom. She welcomed and accepted all parts of me. She has been perhaps the most influential person in my life to date, and I am the man and the partner I am today because of her guidance. Choosing a therapist is a personal decision, and like any intimate relationship, it must be the right fit. But my message to those who will begin their work with Sophie as she arrives in her new city: you are inheriting a blessing.

Thank you, Sophie, for more than I could ever repay."

- BT

“Sophie is a really special therapist. She is intuitive, creative, compassionate, and clear-minded.  Never once did I feel uneasy or unsure about bringing topics to Sophie.  She genuinely cared about me which is something that cannot be feigned. Based on our work together, I highly recommend Sophie to those who are seeking a therapist.”

- PK

"Sophie is an incredibly compassionate, empowering and intuitive therapist.  I really appreciate the depth of her work and her ability to see and understand me in ways I haven't been able.  I also feel very comfortable and relaxed when I walk into her office.  I would highly recommend Sophie!!!"

- SV

Clinical Member