#EmiTogether: Interview with Dr. Samuels, Emi’s resident psychologist on how she stays on top of her relationship

Our interviewee today: We are excited to have our very own Dominique Samuels, PsyD, resident psychologist of Emi Couple. Born and raised in NYC, Dominique, called Kiki, was always drawn to relationships and how they worked. Her parents had an intact but tumultuous marriage that ended abruptly when she was 8, following her father’s death. These experiences led her to a deep interest in psychology, relationships, and helping people get through hard times. While originally drawn to business post college, she eventually left to obtain a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. From there, she has had a private practice in SF with individuals and couples for over 15 yrs, while concurrently advising tech companies and providing executive coaching nationally. She lives in SF with her husband, two children and two dogs. 

What has been a big challenge in your relationship, and what have you done to work on it?

I met my husband  when I was 22 years old, at a small tech start up where we both worked, during the first dot com boom. Because we were so young when we met, we have had to grow up and shift our perspectives, goals, and values together. At times that has been quite fluid and easy, but other times, one has had to wait for the other to catch up. For example, I wanted to move to California for graduate school, from New York City, where we were close to our friends and family. My (then boyfriend) husband had to warm to the idea of leaving our families and roots behind. Another example, he was ready to have kids much earlier than I was. While I ended up agreeing to an earlier time frame than planned, it was still later than what he wanted. We go through these issues with thoughtful communication and vulnerability. And when that fails, we go find a professional to talk to!

What are some positive relationship rituals and routines that you and your partner maintain?

We have always prioritized evenings together. We have dinner every night together (now just with the kids mostly!), and go to bed at the same time most nights. Even after the kids go to bed, we have a routine of catching up,  watching a show together, and then snuggling while we read in bed.

What’s your favorite date activity?

My favorite date activity is a hike. While many people like nights out, I tend to get tired and really enjoy having a long period of time together where we can talk about any topic without interruptions,  and enjoy something together that we did together before we even had kids. But the other favorite is definitely a night AWAY!!!

What are 3 things you want your children to say about the relationship you have with your partner?

I would want my children to say that their parents: love each other, can argue and make up with open communication, and laugh a lot.

What’s your favorite song together and why?

Our wedding song was “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge. In our first four years together, we had gone through so many stressful things together – working together, the dot-com bust of 2000, being unemployed, changing careers, 9/11, and ultimately moving to California where we knew very few people. We felt that if we could get through all that, we would be able to make it through anything.

What are you excited about most for the next several years with your significant other?

In the next several years, our children will become tweens and teens. Having less parenting demands will free us up to really put our relationship as first priority again! We, luckily, have agreed that we wanted to prioritize our children and therefore have both understood that there would be times we would need to really focus on reconnecting because we sometimes lose each other in the daily grind. I look forward to spontaneous date nights without thinking about babysitters!