Do you make your partner the enemy when you have a problem? What is the first step to learning how to communicate effectively? Why should you be assertive in your relationship? In this podcast, Dr. Castagnini speaks with Veronica Cisneros about being empowered and unapologetic.


Veronica is a licensed marriage and family therapist, mother of 3 married for 21 years, course creator, and host of the empowered and unapologetic podcast. Through personal experience, she has defeated life’s challenges by leaning into fear unapologetically. She’s taught hundreds of women how to reclaim their identity and reignite their marriage by cutting through communication barriers. Visit her website. Connect on Instagram and join her free Facebook group. Listen to her podcast and enroll in the course: Reignite Your Marriage By Cutting Through The Communication Barriers Click here for a freebie on 5 Mistakes to Avoid for a Healthy Relationship


  • How to communicate effectively
  • Learning how to sit in the emotion
  • Why you should be assertive

How to communicate effectively

Perception: how you perceive something will often dictate your reaction to it more so than what was actually being said. If you view your partner as the enemy, no matter what they say, you will find fault in them. However, if you reframe the situation and make the circumstance, or the communicative barrier the enemy, you and your partner can team up and work to overcome that enemy together instead of fighting against one another.
Perception is key. Being able to understand that your husband isn’t necessarily the enemy, your partner is not the enemy, it’s the circumstance or it’s the lack of skill that is the enemy. Whenever we’re able to step outside and look at it, taking emotions away and look at it from an observer’s point of view, then we’re able to realize [that] … we aren’t at war with each other … this is about how is the message being relayed to me, [and] what is my perception of it? (Veronica Cisneros)
By learning to shift your perception and change your perspective, you allow your partner the benefit of the doubt. You also open yourself up to more interpretations of what this problem could mean, and how you could solve it together, instead of closing off and labeling the situation and your partner as your foes.

Learning how to sit in the emotion

Learning self-regulation and how to sit through uncomfortable emotions is a skill that is not widely known and therefore it is not often taught to new generations when it certainly ought to be. Due to the lack of knowledge on how to process difficult emotions and discomfort, many people create unhealthy or potentially harmful coping mechanisms so that they do not have to face the discomfort. In this, when some couples struggle, sometimes one or both partners might develop eating disorders because they use food to cope with the stress instead of dealing with the stress. Often emotions can be disguised: you may feel anger, but you are actually hurting that you are expressing your pain through anger. This is another symptom of not being taught about emotions.
What other emotions coincide with that particular ‘mad’ emotion? It really helps them break down [that] it’s not necessarily that [they’re] mad, I’m actually really hurt, and I feel betrayed, and then that dialogue starts to happen and they start to validate their own emotions by being able to identity them. (Veronica Cisneros)
Strong emotions can trigger a physiological response, which is why it is important to address them and be able to sit through and discuss them. Because it is when you push them down and ignore them that they can manifest as eating disorders or unhealthy habits that you use as coping mechanisms to avoid addressing the root issue.
I can trust that I can sit in this emotion and come out of it. I don’t have to run from it because it is a temporary experience. What lasts a lot longer is when we try to act out in rage or we run and isolate or withdraw altogether, that lasts so much longer, and it is met with so much more resentment. However, if I can sit in the emotion …. and really identify what it does … then I’m now more aware and more familiar with what happens when I’m triggered. (Veronica Cisneros)

Why you should be assertive

Being assertive means that you are communicating what you want and placing boundaries around what you will and will not compromise. In this way, being assertive and having boundaries work hand-in-hand. Remember that you and your partner married one another to be together because you want to build a life with one another. In that, you both will grow into many different people throughout your relationship, and with different people come new boundaries, new needs, and different wants and dislikes.
Assertive is so different. It’s respectful of the other person, it’s respectful of yourself. It’s saying “hey, this is how I’m feeling, this is what I like, this is what I need, what do you think?” it’s putting it out there, it’s not demanding, it’s not being selfish. (Dr. Cristina Castagnini)
Being assertive and honest is a gift, not aggression because it allows you to communicate your authentic self and it gives your partner understanding and the ability to work with your needs if it is in their capacity. If not, that’s a different conversation.



I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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