Dear Dr. Romance:

I have read your article "Fair Fight Guidlines" and it is impressive. I like to ask your advise for the following situation:

I have married for 20 years and three beautifull children. My wife whom I love the most, uses power struggle tactics: guilt and obligation, threats and emotional blackmail, courtroom logic: peacekeeping, sacrificing, or hammering. Even we go out for a date alone, still same problem, she will bring any thing based on assumption or false, and will ruin the evening.

Lately, she has been putting down my family, mother and sister, brothers.  Also, she is turning my own kids against me. I am sole provider for the family and pay all the bills, including her car.  She works as teacher and do not contribute any thing. I never ask what she does with her money, it will cause more problems.

I have tried every thing but failed. How can I help her to turn around?

Dear Reader:

I don't know your wife, but I know that most people who are so negative are also afraid.  It sounds like you need to stand up and be more solid and sure of yourself, so she can trust that you will take care of things and she doesn't have to be so hyper-vigilant.

You won't be able to change her -- you have to work by changing yourself to give her something  different to respond to.  I highly recommend that you get couples counseling, allow the counselor to see you interact, and a good counselor will see that your wife is anxious and critical, and help her change -- but a good counselor will also see what you're doing to contribute to the problem,
and help you to change, too.  "Stop Reacting and Start Relating" can help you break some of the ingrained communication patterns you've developed. Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences can help you understand each other better.

Love Styles

For low-cost counseling, email me at

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.

Dr. Tessina, is CRO (Chief Romance Officer) for, a website designed to strengthen relationships and guide couples through the various stages of their relationship with personalized tips, courses, and online couples counseling. Online, she’s known as “Dr. Romance” Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC News.