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Relationships are messy + delicious. Learn about how Robyn D'Angelo, The Happy Couple Expert uses science to effectively help couples in Orange County, California to master the messiness of relationships while learning how to love + be loved, better.

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Filtering by Tag: love

It's Been 15 Years...

Emily Porta

Just a warning, today's blog is full of cussing. Because, well cussing happens when I'm passionate, sad or grateful. You'll get all three today. 

15 years ago my father was diagnosed with cancer. A brain tumor. And if you know anything about cancer, you know that it's non-discriminatory and it's an asshole. (There, I said it. Cancer is an asshole.)

Right around a year later her was dead. It was that fast. As much as cancer was the major asshole in my family's life, I will give it this: it was swift, efficient and caused my father little (physical) pain. Much appreciated. 

Today, I'm reminded of how that asshole came into our world and removed my father from my life. Today he would be 72 years old.  And for the last 14 years, on his birthday (and even on my wedding day, that he missed) I cheers him with a shot of Grand Marnier, his fave sipping liqueur. 

Birthdays were special in my family. 

Every birthday, from elementary school up until the year my father died, he'd send me flowers. He really knew how to make me feel special. It was just one way that I knew he loved me. It was thoughtful. He went out of his way to do something he knew would make me feel special. 

He also openly cherished my mother. And when I say openly, I mean mushy, gushy, lovey, dovey cherished my Mom. Quietly, privately, and gently.

Growing up I saw a hard-working man, who raised 4 daughters and loved his family. He worked a lot. And I mean A LOT. But when he was around my Mom, I noticed them. I paid attention to their love. You could almost feel it. They were quiet yet intentional about how they supported one another. 

He'd call her Poo (short for Nancy-poo) and lovingly pinched her on the butt when she made dinner. I remember catching them dancing in the kitchen once, when they thought no one was around. She giggled and swooned. My brain will never forget that moment. Mom still tells the stories of how he'd take her to fancy conventions, and introduce her as, "This is my first wife, Nancy." (First and ONLY wife, but who's counting?) 

My father showed me what love was supposed to look like. And my Mother's response showed me what it was supposed to feel like. 

You're reading this, so by now you know me. I'm a self-proclaimed LOVE GEEK. You know that I am in love with LOVE and I think I have my parents to blame. Ok, The Notebook, Titanic and even the Little Mermaid may have had something to do with it - but at the end of the day, my parents taught me about love. And for that I am grateful.

They taught me that even when shit gets really hard (and it does!) you show up for and with one another. 

They taught me that when life (kids, work, family, in-laws, illness, weather, finances, etc) happens to you - it happens to BOTH of you. 

They taught me that there's never enough time in the day, so you must MAKE time in the day for one another. 

They taught me that having pet names, pinching butts and slowing down long enough to dance in the kitchen can be the glue that holds love together.

With 2016 being my alcohol-free year, (yeah, that's an entirely separate post!), Sans the Grand Marnier, I say cheers and Happy Birthday to the man who taught me what love is and fueled my obsession with helping others to know it as well. Let's celebrate a man who knew a thing or two about love! 

Cuddle Up, We're Getting Intimate This Week!

Emily Porta

Hi, Robyn D'Angelo here, The Happy Couple Expert.  I want to talk with you about intimacy today.  This is a topic that, especially as someone who coaches people on how to have amazing relationships, comes up often. 


There is a three part definition for intimacy:  1. it’s a closeness, a familiarity, a friendship; 2. it’s also private or cozy atmosphere, so you think of maybe a concert that you go to where there's only a handful of people; and 3. then of course is the act of being really close.  Often times, it's sexual intercourse, but not always.  Could be cuddling, kissing, holding hands, dancing, anything that requires closeness of you and your partner.  Intimacy is huge, but it's also really vague and abstract!  

I actually just recently read an article but Zoe Hicks, about the Five Stages of Intimacy and I won't go through all of those, but I encourage you to look it up, it was really fascinating.  She compares it to kind of the five stages of grief because they are both intense and there is dullness and then theres gains and then theres losses.  Intimacy is different for everyone.  

She talks about it starting with the stage of infatuation and I thought this was really important to share because we've all been there, right?  You meet that person, you go "Oh my gosh! This is the one!  I can't stop thinking about them! I'm texting them all the time or I'm checking my email.  I want to be with them!" And, you know, research shows that when we hit orgasm, our brain releases so much dopamine (up to 95%) that it looks like and mimics our brain on heroine.  This is phenomenal.  This also means that it's not a sustainable state, right? Like, our brains would fry if we like operated at 95% dopamine release similar to, heroine use.  Not possible.  

Which kind of leads into the next stage which is about, I think she calls it landing, where you wake up one day and you're like, "Who is this person that I got married to? Their jokes are not funny.  Oh my gosh, you know he's so neurotic, I can't believe it.”  And there was an article in Psychology Today that I think said, "The day you wake up and say 'Oh My God, I've Married the Wrong Person!' that's the day your marriage or relationship begins."  Because, it's the day you start to realize, ok I'm dropping out of the infatuation, but we're still really close, like we're so close that we're showing each other the parts of us that aren't so glamorous.  And that's real intimacy.    

So, I just wanted to share a little bit with you about intimacy and what this looks like and I want to encourage you to have a conversation with your partner: "What does intimacy look like and mean in your relationship? Do you want more of it?  Do you know how to create more of it?" And if this is something that you struggle with, please know you're not alone.  My goodness, you are not alone!  

I'd love to work with you if this is something you feel like you'd like a little bit more help with in your relationship.  Feel free to reach out, contact me directly.  This is what I do.  I help couples reconnect, deepen the intimacy, maybe even create it in new ways.  Intimacy, it's simple.  It is, but it's not easy.  So if you need some help, reach out, let's connect, let's work together! And, here's to building a more intimate relationship. Talk to you guys soon. Buh-bye!

The "I" in Team

Robyn D'Angelo

Hi, Robyn D'Angelo here, The Happy Couple Expert.  Have you ever heard that saying: "There's no ‘I' in Team?"  Well, I’m here to tell you that there absolutely is an "I" in team and it's a really important role.  

When I think about the "I" in team, I think about this word 'autonomy,' which is hugely important within relationships.  Autonomy is having the free will to make choices according to your wants, needs and desires.  

This is really important to have within a relationship, just as important as to have your partners back, to support your partner, to cheer them on in really encourage them.  There's got to be a sense of self within a relationship.  

Have you ever noticed that when your partner tells you to do something, even if it's something you totally want to do, you have this sense of resistance?  This kind of thought of like, "why are they telling me to do this?" It's because you're sense of being able to make a choice is removed from the situation.  Our brains don't like that!  

I mean, think about it, for decades and decades people have been fighting for freedom.  Our brains are like that too even within relationships.  

There's studies that show dissatisfaction among doctors.  It's not because they have to fill out insurance forms or paperwork- it's when they feel like they don't have control over their day or how many patients they see, about how many breaks they get to take.  That's where their sense of dissatisfaction is.  

So, think about your relationship.  Think about the areas that could be a little bit better.  Is there a space to create some more autonomy?  Or to deepen the autonomy that you already have within your relationship?  

If this is something that you struggle with, reach out, I'd love to work with you and help you and your partner get to a place where the "I" in team can be a really, really fabulous place.  

Alright, talk to you guys soon.  Buh-bye!

LOVE Maps ... Who Is Your Partner?

Emily Porta

People claim to know the tricks, secrets and tips to having a long lasting, loving, committed relationship.  According to Dr.s Julie and John Gottman, there's really just one thing at the foundation of an AWESOME relationship: Knowing who you're with. 


 Yep, that's it. Secret is out! Just take the time to get to know who you're with. And I mean, deeply get to know them. 

You may be wondering, how exactly do you get to know your partner more than you already do. I mean, you know that she loves cream and 3 sugars in her piping hot, french press coffee. You know he folds his pants in thirds before he puts them in the drawer, second from the bottom on the right. That's some pretty detailed stuff. But is it enough?


Slow down and make time to have one-on-one conversations. Using love maps can be really fun. They can be shared on date nights, through playful texts, on road trips, and anytime you two have each other's attention. Love maps help you find out things like what their dreams are, their fears are, their goals are. They help you talk about what your favorite birthday was and why, who your 2 best friends are and what your current worries in life are. 

Want a sneak peak? Here are just a few

Love Map questions:

• What makes your partner feel most complete?

• What turns your partner on?

• What is their favorite meal? 

• What is their favorite was to spend the evening?

• What is their favorite color?

• What personal improvements do they want to make in their life?

• What kind of present would they like best?

• What was one of their best childhood experiences?

• What was their favorite vacation? 

• What is one of their favorite & most effective ways to be soothed when upset or sad?

One important aspect of loving your partner is to become mentally familiar with their world. Remember when you first started getting to know your partner? You would sit with them for hours and ask question after question. It is an exciting part of the courtship process. Just like with anything else, things change; old information must be replaced with new knowledge. 

Here's your chance to either update your current Love Maps or create brand new ones. What did you learn about your partner from using Love Maps? Did you create you own? How did you use them?

WANT MORE LOVE MAPS? Call me and let's work together to build or update your love maps. 714-390-1652 - I can help!

Love Drunk Hangover?

Emily Porta

Did Valentine's Day leave you feeling hungover from binging on a weekend full of all things "LOVE?" What's with these feelings of loneliness and disconnection after a day that is supposed to be so awesome? Yep, it happens to so many of us. Whether you're deeply, madly, fiercely in love or your single and rockin' it - these feelings happen. How are you recovering after such a hyped up holiday? 

Leave a comment below and share how you're taking care of yourself and your relationship after such a high pressure holiday?


Hello.  Robyn D'Angelo here, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  And I just wanted to reach out to those of you who may be feeling a little lonely, maybe a little disappointed, maybe a little disconnected since the Valentine's Day weekend has come and go.  And just reach out to you guys to let you know you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone; that what you're experiencing isn't abnormal.  A lot of us go through moments in time where, whether we're partnered or not, whether we're single or not, it gets kind of lonely and how do we deal with that?  How do we talk to our partners?  Or how do we share with people in our lives that really matter what's going on with us in a way that doesn't feel like we're complaining, we're bitching and moaning?  Poor us, pity party.  But just, how do I share with someone and connect with them in a way that deepens our connection?  And I can help you with that.  I help many, many couples and even single individuals go through this and get through it in a really healthy way and a way that makes them feel more empowered and more connected to themselves, as well as to their partners or those in their lives.  So, if this is something you're struggling with and you're looking for someone to kind of help you through this, give me a call.  Let's see if this is something that I can help you and come out on the other end even stronger and happier than before you even started.  Give me a call at 714-390-1652 or you can email me at robyn@therapywithrobyn.com.  And if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.  I will gladly get back to you.  And I wish you the best for the next couple days coming and we shall talk again soon. 

Love and vocation

Emily Porta

At the end of the day, it isn't about the paperwork, the projects, the emails, the presentations...it is about people and connecting with others. This is why I love what I do. To me it is more than a job, it is a vocation. It is a sacred space to meet with people and share some of their most intimate hurts and joys. Not everyone gets this opportunity and it is nice to take a moment to be thankful and not take this for granted. Being a therapist is a transformative process that impacts my clients and me in profound ways. So Happy Valentine's Day and may you find love in the most unexpected places or rather faces.