What the pandemic has exposed within our romantic relationships was a deficit for too many of us of these three important characteristics… Let me explain why I have highlighted these three critical lynch pins to a healthy and sustainable relationship.  

We must first start with respect and equality and not come from a place of emotional gaming which consists of the use of power and control.  The two most critical abilities of our love partner are to be empathic and insightful.  We must each strive to be partners that want to grow, have empathy and awareness about the issues of power and control our love relationships will become the most healing experiences of our entire lives.  Through the good, the bad and the ugly a couple invested in the above traits will be able to come through and conquer any challenges faced together.  Let’s define the 3 Big F’s:

  1. FUNCTIONAL: What many of us need is critical guide posts and stop-gaps so that our love relationships do not become DYSFUNCTIONAL but together as a couple team they can focus on learning and growing both as individuals and as a couple.  We all must strive for an emotionally healthy and ever evolving functional relationship.
  • FUN: What many of us wrestled to find during this past year was how to continue to have FUN and JOY during the lockdown as a couple. Why does Fun matter?  It matters because truly what we all crave is a playmate.  Think about what we feel with a playmate:  joy, lightness and laughter.  Our love partner must be able to either help bring the joy or be a willing partner to sustain that fun sense of ease.  Dopamine production within our love relationship is critical to fidelity and increased satisfaction
  • FREEING: What many of us desires is to be FREED from our emotional baggage of our childhoods and past traumas.  Through the healthy romantic relationship, we are allowed to heal our wounds from childhood with the loving awareness of our partner.  

Now it is not lost on me how simple these three characteristics sound and just how much emotional work it takes to maintain these within the context of our marriages and relationships. The way to keep these lynch pins strong and healthy requires a deeper understanding and broader understanding of what actually contributes to the Fun, Freeing and Functionality of our partnerships.  

Below you will find the aspects of our relationships that must be present and accounted for by each of us to achieve the Fun, Freeing and Functional partnerships we all deeply desire…

Honesty & Accountability

Open Communication

Negotiation & Fairness

Economic Partnership

Shared Responsibility

Shared Power


Trust & Support

Non-Threatening Behavior


Physical Affection

Personal Integrity

Some of the things on the above list seem self-explanatory but just as many things within our emotional lives things that are simple can be very difficult to execute when we are using our emotional mind and not our wise mind.  So, in my next article I will go into each one of these critical areas of healthy partnerships in much greater detail.   

For now, let’s just focus on the larger three areas of  Functionality, Freedom & Fun in your relationships.  Ask yourself and your partner the following questions:

*What parts of myself are contributing to the Dysfunctionality within my love partnership?

*How do those parts of me reflect my parent’s dysfunction and therefore may need to be empathically understood by my partner and by myself?

*How much would my joy and vitality increase if I addressed those dysfunctional parts and invested in making them healthy and functional? 


  • Dr. Michelle Golland

    Clinical Psychologist — Relationship Expert

    Dr. Michelle Golland is a Clinical Psychologist and Media Shrink. Her bi-coastal private practice focuses on issues relating to adults, couples and families. She also serves as a parenting expert and advocate to families in crisis around the issue of bullying within our schools. She is a relationship expert and looks at her clients through the lens of attachment, connection and disconnection. Dr. Michelle’s education featured an emphasis in Multi-Cultural and Community Psychology and she sees her role in the media and in her private practice as an advocate for the underserved and an educator regarding all things related to mental health and emotional well-being.  She is a proud USC Trojan who grew up in Southern California and now shovels snow in NY instead!  Dr. Michelle has been married for 25 years and has two wonderful and of course annoying children. Dr. Michelle Golland is the Clinical Psychologist the media turns to when they need an expert’s opinion on psychological issues related to anything in politics or popular culture.  She has appeared on CBS This Morning, The Today Show, Shahs of Sunset, Leah Remini: its All Relative, The Insider, E!, Good Morning America, CNN, Inside Edition, Access Hollywood, HLN’s News Shows, Jane Valez-Mitchel, The Nancy Grace Show, MSNBC, and Fox News.  Dr. Michelle was also a regular on Dr. Drew’s show on HLN.  Dr. Michelle does not believe in mincing words but being clear and direct within the media environment and with her clients.  Please go to my website for my media reel.  www.yourshrinkisin.com