How to Confess a Secret Without Totally Effing Up Your Marriage

If you’ve been hiding something from your spouse and you’re worried it’s hurting your relationship, this expert advice will help you come clean.



Tara Fields was recently quoted in Cosmopolitan magazine. Read the original article here

Every husband and wife keeps secrets — they could be as minor as what your singing voice really sounds like, or more serious, like past infidelity or hidden debt. And while you might have been taught that it’s best to treat your husband as a Bachelor-esque confessional, that’s not necessarily the key to a healthy marriage.

“People keep secrets in the first place because they’re often afraid of what will happen next, or they tell themselves they’re protecting someone else but they’re really protecting themselves,” says Tara Fields, PhD, psychotherapist, relationship expert, and author of The Love Fix: Repair and Restore Your Relationship Right Now. “But one thing that people don’t realize is that there are major opportunities to heal old wounds and strengthen relationships when you’re open and forthcoming about things. Plus, something that seems small can actually have deep, rooted issues behind it.”

So if you ask yourself whether the secret is helping or hurting you — or you can ask a friend you really trust to gut-check you, suggests Fields — and if it’s hurtful in the long run, it’s time to get the process started so you can figure out as a couple how to move forward.

How to Solve the Most Common Relationship Conflicts

When you hit a relationship rut—you and your partner argue about the same thing over and over again—it can seem like there’s no end in sight. So how to escape these exhausting conflict loops? On this week’s episode of “The Labor of Love,” host and editor Lori Leibovich talks to Tara Fields, a marriage and family therapist and author of The Love Fix: Repair and Restore Your Relationship Right Now, about the five most common and vexing relationship conflicts—and the straightforward solutions that can help couples sort them out.

1. The Parent Trap. When one partner takes on the role of being the parent to the other, begins micro-managing, and insists on having things done a certain way.

The solution: Begin by identifying where these roles stem from. Is there an underlying anxiety or fear at play? If one partner has become so afraid of doing something wrong, he or she will likely shut down and not take any action at all. 

2. Come Close, Go Away. When one partner begins to feel abandoned—and doesn’t understand why the other needs so much alone time.

The solution: Find the healthy balance of being a “we,” and work to create an interdependent relationship. As a couple, you should be “one,” but both partners should also have a sense of autonomy. 

3. Blame Game and the Shame Spiral. When one partner begins to blame and shame the other, often reverting us to our most juvenile selves (name-calling and flaring tempers). 

The solution: Take ownership, practice mindfulness, and do your best not to be reactive. Speak honestly, and say “I’m not feeling good about what’s going on, so when you want to talk about feelings, I’m available.” 

4. Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3. When one partner has started to feel invisible, so he or she begins testing boundaries—flirting with somebody else, checking in with a former fling, etc.  

The solution: Find the emotional courage to ask directly for what you want. Start an open and honest conversation with your partner, and don’t wait for him or her to be the one to do so.

5. Growing Apart. When both partners have begun taking each other for granted, and one person is beginning to grow out of the relationship.

The solution: Be willing to change as an individual as the relationship changes. During major life events, strive to become a team and be there for one another. Start creating the kind of relationship that no one or nothing outside the relationship can destroy.

Read the original article here.

The Love Fix: Repair And Restore Your Relationship Right Now


Maintaining a lifelong relationship is often difficult, even under the best of circumstances. As a society, many people turn away from the obstacles that come up in relationships rather than learning to deal with them—one of the biggest challenges being conflict. While conflict is inevitable, it’s how you handle it that will make or break your relationship. It’s no secret that communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship—being able to express your wants and needs in a healthy way separates summer flings from relationships that endure all seasons. To put it simply, a couple that can learn how to fight together, stays together.

While conflict can be the driving force behind breakups and divorce, it also has the potential to bring you closer together and strengthen your relationship. In The Love Fix: Repair and Restore Your Relationship Right Now, licensed marriage and family therapist Dr Tara Fields discusses the five common conflicts that couples experience and the ways to stop rehashing the same arguments.

So how do we break the negative patterns in our relationships? By figuring out what it is that you’re really fighting about, once you determine the root of the problem, you can move together toward resolving. Fields cleverly paves the way in this step-by-step guide to building and strengthening relationships filled with love, support and understanding. Here is an excerpt from the book on learning to move past conflict:

Part of my job as a psychotherapist is to see couples with fresh eyes—and to remind them that no matter how bad things have gotten, they can get better. How do I know? Because there’s a simple truth about all relationships that most of us miss: It’s not the fighting or the resentment or the icy indifference or the fact that “he never listens.” In other words, it’s not what you’re fighting about that matters. It’s the patterns you fall into when you fight that can tear a relationship apart. Clients come in and say, “Tara, I don’t get it. I have never loved anyone like this, and I have never had conflict like this. Am I with the wrong person? Should we just quit? Am I crazy? Did I make a mistake?”

No! If you’re feeling this way, you’re not crazy, and it doesn’t mean you have made the wrong choice in a partner. Most often it means you made a good choice. There’s a line I love from the book A Course in Miracles, published by the Foundation for Inner Peace: “Love brings up every- thing unlike itself . . . to be healed.” Love brings up everything you have kept hidden away: unresolved wounds and traumas, fears. Perhaps you feel safe enough, vulnerable enough, in love to allow these old feelings and experiences to resurface. Letting love take the lid off Pandora’s box frees those demons—and once they are free, they can be healed.

Here’s what happens: you get a ring or move in together or you join hearts—you become part of someone else’s world, and that person becomes part of yours—and

then the conflict starts. Maybe it was there all along, and you thought this next step of commitment would make it all go away. Whatever the case, when the conflict starts or grows, you make the mistake of thinking it must be because you’re with the wrong person. You say, “Hey, if I was with the right person, we wouldn’t be fighting, right?”

But the important truth is that it’s never all hearts and flowers. In fact, when you find the person you love and this person loves you back, that love will permeate the layers of protection you’ve built to keep yourself safe; it will get down to so many things you’ve never dealt with before. It may be exactly because you found the right person that you’re fighting—now your heart is open; you’re here in the moment, sitting with yourself in a way you never have before; and now you have the chance through this relationship to let these unresolved issues and fears bubble up from your past so that you can heal them in an authentic way. You have an opportunity: if you can reframe your relationship with conflict, not only can you find your way back to the passion and wide-eyed wonder you once felt in your relationship, but you can also use the safety of a relation- ship in which you reach out and your partner reaches back to learn more about yourself. Can you reframe this conflict as an opportunity not only to repair and strengthen the relationship with your beloved but also to heal your own wounds?

I have seen couples find peace, come closer together, save their relationships, and build relationships that last by simply understanding how they handle their problems and making some pretty straightforward changes to how they communicate. You would be surprised how many more relationships would work, how many more families would stay together, and how many more people would be happy and fulfilled in their relationships if they could take a step back from their conflicts. If you’re fighting or locked in conflict right now, right as you read these words, you have one of the greatest opportunities of your life to connect deeply with your partner and with yourself. My hope is that this book—which explains and explores the five most common fighting patterns couples fall into, offers insight from couples who have broken out of those conflict loops, and provides the tools to help build a lasting relationship—will be a guide for you and give you the courage to reach for the beautiful relationship that is within your power to create.

Read the original article here.

Relationship Author Dr. Tara Fields’ Love Advice: “The Happiest Couples Don’t Necessarily Have More or Less Conflict”

Shrink To Fit

Contra Costa TimesPsyche TalkShrink to FitBy Lynn Carey, Staff Writer


The following is a theoretical question of the sort that has been asked of radio psychologists:

“Um, hello, Doctor? Um, I’m seven months pregnant and I found out my husband has been having an affair with a neighbor. But it’s usually only after he’s been drinking more than usual. I quit my job when we got married, and I really love him. But now I don’t trust him and don’t know what to do.” Read more

House Calls

House Calls

Dr. Tara Fields

Dr. Tara Fields says her “psych-talk” show is entertaining and helpful, but should not replace formal therapy sessions

“Radio psychologists provide listeners with a therapeutic blend of sympathy and insight”

Read more

The Doctor Is On The Air

The Doctor is on the airDr is on the airInsta-therapist doesn't shrink from entertaining

“Start me up and I don’t stop,” says, Marin based therapist Dr. Tara Fields from the offices of KPIX-FM, where she hosts the new call-in “Dr. Tara Fields Show” for the all-talk radio station.

Fields couldn’t be better suited for the job. Hot off her three-hour afternoon gig giving advice, reality checks, comfort and a motivational prod to caller who seek her psychotherapeutic know-how, the doctor is riffing like a guitar hero in the spotlight. Several times during the interview, she brings her bullet-train of words to a sudden halt – to apologize for her talkativeness.

“Just jump in,” she suggests with manic glee. “I talk. That’s why they hired me.”

While Dr. Tara Fields of KPIX-FM is in some ways like Frasier, TV’s top radio-shrink, she insists: “I have more hair and a better relationship with my dog.”

While watching Fields do her insta-shrink thing behind the glass of her studio booth; it’s not hard to be blown away by her skill at practical chat. Calls come in concerning every domestic situation you can name – from a wife concerned about her long-time husband’s declining standards of personal hygiene to a woman stood up by her fiance just before the wedding – and Fields has something pithy to say about it. Snippets of advice roll off her tongue as if coated with Teflon.

“I’ve been doing this as a licensed therapist with a private practice for 12, 13, 14 years, so nothing really surprises me,” she says before hitting up the interviewer for a single snack chip. (“I can eat just one. Watch me.”) “The real challenge is to sift out people who really need to be referred somewhere else. I try to be sensitive to the fact that I don’t know who they are and then get them on the right path.

“I’m different from a lot of on-the-air therapists in that I try to get people to come to their own answers, which I think most of them have. Forget about what Aunt Tilly’s telling you or what society thinks.”

“I’m different from a lot of on-the-air therapists in that I try to get people to come to their own answers, which I think most of them have. How many of us grew up with someone saying, ‘You can trust yourself?’

Forget about what Aunt Tilly’s telling you or what society thinks.”

Judging by a short visit to the station, Fields’ read on things seem sound. The woman with the stinky husband, for example, was left to ponder the possibility that her partner’s infrequent get-to-gethers with Mr. Soap might be an indirect method of communicating his dissatisfaction with the marriage and an incredibly effective way of telling his wife to literally keep her distance.

“People call in because they’re stuck, they’re helpless, they’re crying and they think they’ve lost Prince Charming,” she recalls. “And by the end of the show Wes (Hendrix, her engineer) is playing ‘Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves’ and the caller is saying, ‘Yes! I’m so glad he’s out of my life.’ “It feeds me and I can’t deny that some of this is entertainment. When I was auditioning for this job, I decided that I had to acomplish three things. I had to help people. I knew I had to be entertaining or it wasn’t going to work. And I had to have fun doing it.”

Through the conversation, Fields repeatedly brings up the topic of ratings and what she won’t do to get them – belittle callers who are already suffering from poor self-esteem, tell women to get or not to get abortions, take advantage of extremely vulnerable people. If someone is struggling with something as extreme as suicide, they won’t get on the air. Instead, Fields’ producer and phone attendant Allyson Geller will refer the troubled soul to the appropriate agency. Fields – also a resident therapist for KRON-TV’s “Saturday Daybreak” – strives to keep her ethics sound and her ego in check.

She puts it this way several times throughout the interview: “If I wanted to be cult leader of the world, I’d want them to depend on me.”

But the frequency with which Fields alludes to ratings suggests that regardless of her status as a mental health care professional do-gooder, there is a bottom line: Fields must bring in loyal listeners. Her advertisers wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ordinary therapists see clients for 50 minutes at a time, often weekly, over months or even years. Most psychologists are keen to let their patients do most of the talking. Although both parties must watch the clock, neither must pause for commercials. If Fields behaved over the air in the time-tested prescribed fashion, the result would be radio-shrink C-Span. You can imagine how many fans that would attract.

Instead Fields is more like a real-life equivalent of “Frasier” – a personality to help the psychologically needy and chase big ratings.

“Frasier’s also not afraid to be human,” she says of the sit-com sensation. “You see behind the scenes that he cares and has a good heart. But let’s acknowledge that I have more hair and a better relationship with my dog.”

Before studying psychology, she pursued a life in the theater and even studied with the famous Method acting guru Lee Strasberg. Her current day career skills were honed in Los-Angeles, where she established a thriving therapy practice and facilitated women’s groups.

Her theatrical experience shows. Fields looks and speaks more like a movie star then you average Berkely-based touchy-feely type. And one gets the sense that Fields might just be a better talker than she is a listener.

“What people hear on this air is me,” says Fields. “But they may be surprised to know that there are moments in my life when I’m not talking.”

The Gift of Gab

Sunday Independent JournalTara is that voiceThe Gift of Gab

Makeup artist Chris Scott prepares Tara Fields before a segment

Makeup artist Chris Scott prepares Tara Fields before a segment

‘TV shrink’ dispenses advice on local and national programs

Tara Fields can’t stop the small talk. She’s chatty. She’s talky. She has a million friends and a million stories. She flits from subject to subject, from aside to anecdote, all interspersed with laughs and the occasional “Oy vey!” The focus is everywhere.

And then it narrows to the pinpoint.

The microphone is on.

On this morning, the Mill Valley psychotherapist who calls herself “a TV shrink” is in the KGO radio studios with morning host Ronn Owens. The subject is Mel Gibson’s roadside anti-Semitic outbursts. It’s been the scandal buzz of the celebrity news feed all week and Fields has a lot to say.

She ponders whether the apologies issued through a publicist are sincere. “We can’t tell if he’s remorseful or not.” She questions the source of Gibson’s rage. “Depression is anger turned inward.” She talks to callers. She argues with Owens. She leans into the microphone. She offers hope. “How many people are going into rehab because of Mel Gibson?”

She fills the hour.

And then the microphone turns off, and the focus goes wide again.

Fields doesn’t stop being “Dr. Tara” when she’s not on the air. She just turns down the volume.

The title “TV shrink” is not one that comes up on career aptitude tests. Field is free to mold the definition. She shows up every other week on KRON’s Saturday “Morning Daybreak” show. The spots she tapes with Jack Hanson run on the Comcast “Local Edition” every hour on the cable system’s CNN feed. The week before her hour with Owens, MSNBC sent a limousine to her house to bring her to a taping.

She is a regular on the A&E program “Intervention,” and she taped a segment with Oprah that will air later this month.

She’s busy. She loves it.

She needs it.

Tara Fields regular host

Fields: Passionate about her convictions, from social issues to creating a dog park in Mill Valley

Fields is a contradiction moving at blur speeds. She is an obvious extrovert in the world’s loneliest profession. Therapists don’t talk. They listen. And then they can’t talk about anything they hear. A woman who studied acting with Lee Strasberg painted herself off the stage. A woman endowed with, as media mentor Dr. Dean Edell says, “the gift of gab,” found a career that ensured she had nothing to talk about.

“My husband can’t ever say, ‘Honey, how was your day?’” Fields says. “You can’t talk about it, you really can’t.”

So she found a way to talk.

Fields never really strayed too far from the spotlight. She’d come to California from New York aiming for an acting career. She didn’t want to be discovered, she says. She just wanted to act. But the kind of acting she was talking about and the kind of Hollywood she found were not the match she hoped. She recalls an “existential crisis” in her early 20s that took her out of the business altogether.

And into psychotherapy, first as a patient and later as a therapist. She studied psychology at Antioch University in Los Angeles and did her internship at a Beverly Hills clinic. She got her license. She launched a practice. But she was already craving a stage. She got involved in a pilot for a show on the psychodrama therapeutic technique. She got some radio time. By the time she moved to Mill Valley in the early ’90s – “Life’s too short to live in L.A.” -she was comfortable behind the mike and polished in front of the camera.

When she met Edell, she made him a mentor.

Fields was a natural, Edell says. “There are some people you just see instantly that they’ve got it,” Edell says. “That’s Tara.”

The ability to speak on any topic at any moment and sound intelligent made her a welcome commodity all over the Bay Area. Before long she was doing regular spots on KTVU’s “Mornings On Two” and then rushing across the bay to tape segments for KRON. She had a Saturday night radio show in Santa Rosa and became an afternoon alternative to the much-reviled Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

She didn’t just like the attention. It became a mission.

“It felt like it’s a calling,” she says.

The idea of missions and “a calling” is not a surprise to mystery writer Harley Jane Kozak, who lived upstairs from Fields in a Los Angles duplex. “She’s a person of passionately held convictions,” Kozak says.

Fields grew up marching in civil rights demonstrations with her parents. She doesn’t just want to talk. She wants to speak up. “Any place where somebody needs a voice, Tara is that voice,” Kozak remarks.

Kozak says her longtime friend is the kind of person who makes people stop and listen.

“Where I want to just fade into the woodwork, Tara is out front demanding a better table at restaurant and demanding equal rights for everybody,” Kozak says. “If she had not gone into psychology, she would have made a really great lawyer or politician.”

Not all the causes are earth-shattering social issues. In the ’90s she was part of a Mill Valley crusade to establish dogs and their owners in the town’s Bayfront Park. She’s near militant on the subject of dog rescue, condemning anybody who buys from a breeder when there are so many dogs that need homes.

The passion makes her convincing. It’s not just that Fields can talk on camera, on cue. She is sincere on no shortage of subjects. Ross McGowan, who hosts KTVU’s “Mornings on Two,” praises Field’s ability to come off as a caring human and not some jargon-spouting psychology theorist. “You an always count on her,” McGowan says. “She comes in and she knows the story.”

Watching her shift gears when the mike goes live, it would be easy to doubt that sincerity. When she leans forward in her chair, the posture looks almost too professional.

Comcast’s Hanson has watched that transformation and he’s come to understand Field’s sincerity. “She’s got multiple personalities and I don’t mean that in a negative way,” says Hanson, who hosts “Local Edition” segments in Comcast markets around the Bay Area. “When she comes on, she knows she’s a performer but she’s not a performer who is acting. It’s just a different part of her personality.”

Fields has personality to spare. She’s at the dog park every day, consulting with the canines and their human counterparts (she met her husband there). She goes to Spirit Rock at least once a week – “That’s one of the many communities I’m plugged into,” she says. She has patients most afternoons. She has an agent, and he’s still maneuvering for a “dream TV thing.”

For a woman who entered the world’s loneliest profession, she’s never far from an audience.

The audience is everywhere, as wide as her off-the-air focus. She can talk. And she does.

To anybody who will listen.

Whether the microphone is on.

Or off.