Dr. Tina Tessina, Ph.D., L.M.F.T. is a licensed psychotherapist in Southern California. “Dr. Romance,” as she’s known, has 30 years counseling experience, both individuals and couples, and has published 13 books in 16 languages, including her latest release, Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media Jan 2008) and the forthcoming The Commuter Marriage: Keep Your Relationship Close While You’re Far Apart. (Adams Media, June 2008).
Carrie: What inspired you to write Money, Sex, and Kids?
Tina: In my work with couples, I see a lot of problems created by a habit of fighting, and I’ve developed a lot of strategies to change those old bad habits and give couples something new to do that works better.
Carrie: What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from this book?
Tina: You can have a loving partnership, full of sweetness and effective planning and decision making. It’s not hard to create.
Carrie: Tell us about your writing process.
Tina: I essentially re-create the counseling process I use with couples, including case histories, dialog and exercises just as I use them in successful counseling.
Carrie: The process of writing a book is not easy, to say the least. What motivated you to keep going, especially in those times when it was far from convenient to write?
Tina: Well, this is my 12th book, so I’ve got the process down by now, and it’s help I really want to make available to couples.
Carrie: Who are your favorite authors and who influenced your writing? Besides your own, of course, which authors and/or books do you recommend to readers? Why?
Tina: I love Anne Lamott’s honesty and clarity. I have been influenced by Carl Rogers, Robert Bly, Albert Ellis, Eric Berne, James Hillman, Thomas Szasz, Ken Wilbur, Marsha Sinetar, Virginia Satir and others. I studied Gestalt therapy, Transactional Analysis Rational Emotive Therapy and many other modes. The book which best captures my modality is Ken Wilbur’s Integral Therapy. I also read a lot of research.
Carrie: Can you offer a glimpse into your “real life” and share with us a bit of your personal life—what’s important to you (i.e., hobbies, passions, causes, family)?
Tina: I am blessed to have a wonderful marriage, we just celebrated 26 years on May 9. There are other loving people in my life — I have very good friends. Richard and I love our three little dogs, our old 1918 California Bungalow near the beach, and being able to do the counseling work that I love is also a blessing.
Carrie: Tell us something surprising about you and/or something very few people know about you.
Tina: I am a trained opera singer, and for several years, I gave a recital. I love making music, I’ve written song lyrics and poetry.
Carrie: Would you be willing to share your biggest failure and how it changed your life? How about your biggest success, personal and/or professional and how it affected your perspective?
Tina: My biggest failure was the first marriage that I made when I was 20, right after my Dad died. That divorce got me into therapy, where I processed years of grief all at once, and began to restructure my ideas about relationships, love, friendship and marriage. That therapy led to my putting myself through college in order to become a licensed psychotherapist. My biggest success is just surviving the tragedy of losing all my family by age 18, and turning it into my greatest strength. I’ve had so many amazing opportunities, including a series of book tours in Latin America, where I got to work with translators and people of other cultures. I toured Mexico, Costa Rica, Columbia and was a featured speaker at the Feria Internacional, the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Carrie: What’s next for you ~ Anything else you’d like to offer?
Tina: Life is one learning process after another. Now, I’m learning to use virtual reality on the Internet, and it’s very exciting.
Remember that first and foremost, before anything else, you’re partners. Keep that in mind and check frequently to make sure you’re acting like partners, and not competitors or avoiders. You’re in this thing together, and partnership is what it’s all about.
Guidelines for Relating With Love (Six things to remember)
- It’s not about who’s right or wrong it’s about solving the problem together. If you try to win the argument, you’ll lose something more important — loving feelings.
- With listening, caring and the willingness to change, anything in your relationship can be fixed. There’s no need to be afraid — just turn up the love.
- It’s a partnership, silly! Stop struggling, and learn to work together. Focus on teamwork and sharing.
- Behavior that enhances relationships with people at work, and with your friends, will probably work if you use it with your spouse. Seek to be more rational and less angry or emotional.
- What goes around comes around, in love as well as life. If you want more of love, try giving more. It will work every time.
- Be a grownup, not a little kid. Think before you speak and focus on solutions, not problems. Give up whining, complaining and suffering, and step up to taking responsibility and loving more.
- Money, Sex, and Kids
- It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction
- How To Be a Couple and Still Be Free
- The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again
- Gay Relationships
- The REAL 13th Step
- The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty
- The 10 Smartest Decisions A Woman Can Make Before 40
Website: http://www.tinatessina.com/ ~ where you can subscribe to the “Happiness Tips from Tina” e-mail newsletter and links to the “Dr. Romance” blog. Dr. Tessina is an online expert, answering questions at www.CouplesCompany.com and Yahoo!Personals at www.personals.yahoo.com/us/static/content.