Gratitude for the Small Things Grows Your Relationship


Do you give your loved one credit for when he or she “tries” to show their love or caring? Gratitude for these small steps can create a beautiful chain of more happiness and connection in your relationship.

Maybe it is not exactly what you had hoped for but it is a try or an effort toward what you do want. It is easy to get into a state of wanting it exactly the way you want it and standing firm that you will not be content unless it is that way. I am not saying you should give up on what you want or need, but that you should consider the “process” of getting where you want to be in your relationship.

Some Things to Consider as Loved Ones “Try” to Show Their Love and Caring:

  1. It does not have to be perfect. When you expect perfection and your sweetheart comes up short, it is a set up for dis-contentment or unhappiness. Maybe you want or hope for more. And that can come. But in the moment you can acknowledge the try or effort toward what you wanted or hoped for. Maybe you want a sharing of chores in the household. Your husband chooses to help with dishes one night. It may not be all you want, but it is a start. 
  2. Search for the parts in the try that feel good to you. Be mindful of what is being done or offered to you. It is Valentines Day and your husband brings you chocolates home. You like chocolate but you had hoped for something new and different. You can still enjoy the chocolates, savoring each piece knowing your spouse was thinking of what he knew you liked and was trying to please you. 
  3. Let your loved one know you appreciate what they did do. This will bring more of this your way and beyond. You have been telling your wife you would like to carve out more couple time away from the kids. You are thinking in your head a weekend away. She sets up a 2 hour date night. You choose to thank her for carving out this special one on one time to be just with you. 
  4. Let the good stuff from the try or effort sink in and stay with you. Let it nourish your inner self and know you are cared for. Let it be a part of you, not letting it slip away. Keep it as a touchstone to remember and build on.


Moving Toward More of What you Do Want:

  •  Do express your needs and desires. Do so in a calm, respectful manner, letting your partner know how this specific action will help to make you a better couple and increase happiness for both of you. Avoid demanding or insisting.
  • When these things occur let your happiness show, telling your partner how this makes you feel and express your thankfulness. This does matter. Your visible reaction and encouragement helps your loved one to know it is worth it.Plus it makes them feel very good as well. And it increases your chances of more connection.
  • Do illicit and ask your loved one what it is that THEY need or are hoping for in your relationship. Try to work toward these desires if it is a healthy request that could strengthen your relationship.

Let the small acts of love take root in your heart for they can grow and fill your soul with happiness and joy.

Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.



Creating OFF Mode for Self Renewal and Better Relationships

snoopy on top his house, laying flat depressed look

When we are ON all the time we begin to feel burned out and drained and find not much left for care of ourselves or of our relationships. It actually can begin to feel addictive, this need to be ON and “plugged in”. I can attest for my own self that I  have to constantly be on guard as to how much I let things control my time. We have more power than we think we do.  There is a practical, realistic piece as to work and personal commitments.  What I  do find interesting is that so many times the more balanced we become, the more focused and purpose driven we become.  We can even accomplish more when we are in our ON work mode  all of the time. And it can feel every so good when we are ON and all of our creative juices are flowing. This is most true of course when we love our work.  It is finding that lovely balance that we all so crave. And that may be a bit different for each one of us.

But for so many it feels like we live in a crazy, busy world. So how can we switch to our OFF mode more often? Doing a bit of reflection can help to access your balance. This is a place to start.

snoop and bird on top of house looking disconnected

Are you in OFF mode enough for Self and Relationship Health?

  • What does your body tell you? You might consider how you feel physically.
  • What does your internal “gut” tell you? So many times we know when we get quiet and still for a bit to consider this.
  • Are you happy? Do you like how you are spending your time? Does it match up with your goals and desires for yourself and your relationship?
  • Do your loved ones complain that they never see you or that you don’t spend enough time with them?
  • Do you have enough contact with your family and friends that you really know what is going on in their lives?
  • Do you feel close and connected with loved ones?
  • Do you spend more time on Facebook, texting, on the internet than you do with your family? Does your “electronic world” take away from having OFF time that you need for your self renewal and your relationships?

None of us will be perfectly synced and balanced all the time with the perfect OFF / ON balance. But what we can consider is what this looks like most of the time. Plus, what is one man or women’s perfect fit is not so much for another person.

snoopy and bird playing on skateboard happy


What are Some Practical Strategies to Put More OFF Time in Your LIfe?

  1. Get very clear as to what you want for your life. How much time do you want to be in work and volunteer commitment mode? In personal self-care mode? And in nourishing your relationships? Visualizing what you want can help you get there. It will lead you to make decisions that really fit for what you want in your life.
  2. Choose carefully what you do with your time. Make it match up with what you want. This feels the most rewarding and is the least draining of our energy. 
  3. Strongly consider your personal relationship with your “electronic world”.  Decide on purpose how much time you spend with the varying media that draws us in. Facebook, texting, Pinterest, Instagram, etc, etc,
  4. Listen to your “inner voice” to keep you on track.  Setting aside a bit of quiet time each day for yourself can help you to stay in tune with what you really need.
  5. Listen to your loved ones. Really hear what they are saying. Make sense of it and take action to keep  close connections.

snoopy holding heart

Note: As I try to always “walk the talk” I will be taking a break from posting on my blog this next week to spend personal time with my family. I wish you well in your own personal journey in finding the right ON / OFF balance in your life.

How to Let Go and Be Happy

sad girl with hand on face clip art

Are you wanting to let go, but find it hard? Holding on and being stuck in our upset can cause much unhappiness. Learning to “let go” and “be happy” is easier than we may think. So what does it mean to let go?  Here is a summary of my take on what it means to let go and make room for happiness to come into your life.

First of all what letting go is not about. It is not about letting others be abusive or treat us badly and decide it is ok.  It is not about letting a situation continue that is unhealthy.

Letting go is about – CHOOSING to let something not be the “focus”and move on to a different place, CHOOSING to let in the good, CHOOSING to be happy, CHOOSING to live in the now.  It is about focusing on OUR response. 

 happy couple looking at each other on a lawn clip art

What do we need to do to get to the place where we can feel we are ready to let something go? Here are a few things to consider as you think about incorporating more “letting go” into your life.

  1. First of all, acknowledge and give honor to your upset feelings. Your feelings are important and your guide posts as to helping you know what needs to be addressed and possibly not addressed. Regardless, how you feel is important. You have a right to your feelings, all of them.
  2. Consider what you are upset about. Is it worth your time and energy to carry it with you? Our upsets can be put on a very wide continuum. For example: A store clerk is rude. Traffic is extra tough and you get home 15 minutes later than normal. Someone does not agree with your idea in a meeting. Your husband forgets to tell you about a change in plans. Your child does not study for a test and gets a bad grade. Your cat throws up on your carpet. Most of the household chores are being done by you and you are not happy about it. All work and no play. Your partner is depressed and not responsive. You need more connection with your spouse or significant other. The doctor’s appointment does not go well and you have a serious diagnosis. Your mom dies and you are devastated. So, yes we  have a spectrum of what may be upsetting us.
  3. Are the small irritations and disappointments worth our time and focus? Probably not. We can acknowledge our feelings and decide to let it go. If it increases as a problem, we can choose to do something different. If your upset is moderate to big, we will have some additional steps to work through.
  4.   Larger upsets may require some action on our part. CHOOSING what to do after some thoughtful consideration is a part of this plan. Here are some possible things to consider.
  • Would it help to talk to someone? A neutral or supportive party? Or the person who is involved in the upset?
  • Simply talking about our feelings and acknowledging them helps to begin to lessen the power of these feelings. The intensity of how we feel can lesson and we can begin to see more clearly. 1) If you are choosing to talk with a supportive friend, consider one who is more of a listener opposed to telling you what to do.  2) If you choose to talk with the person who is involved in the upset, then try to do it when you are not in a high reactive state, but one on in which you feel you can talk in a low, calm thoughtful way as much as possible with a respectful tone. This will help to create an atmosphere in which the other person will be able to hear you without becoming defensive and be able to respond in a thoughtful way.
  • Deciding what you need to feel better and taking action to make that happen. If this involves another then it may mean exploring ideas that will work for both of you. This may be a process, but just beginning this interaction will take you where you want to go. It may mean letting go of rigid ideas of what has to happen to make it better. Seeing both sides and coming to a point that peace and what you both can live with may be the answer. This said, there may be some things that do not have a middle ground. For example a third-party involvement in a relationship or an ongoing drug or alcohol issue.  A decisive stance or action on your part my be part of what is needed. If this is an individual issue, it may involve deciding what is best for you and then moving toward this action.
  • Forgiveness may be a part of the plan. This is a letting go process and one that is not always simple. But it is attainable. Forgiveness is not saying you are ok with a betrayal or a hurtful interaction, etc. It is about choosing to come to a place of letting it go to let the good come back in. And beginning the process of re-building and healing.
  • Shift to a happier place. Begin to focus on what makes you feel happy. You can build on this, creating more of what you want in your life.

We all have to decide how much power we want something to have over us. Sometimes we may need to have a time of grief, especially with a significant loss. This is normal and part of what we may need. At some point with small or large things we can come to a point of deciding if we are ready to let go or at least partially let go and let the good stuff back into our life.  Happiness and joy is something we all deserve. We have the power to create the life we want.

Random Acts of Kindness in Your Relationship = Loving Feelings & Connection

couple cooking

There are expected acts of kindness in all relationships and then there are random acts of kindness in your relationship. The latter is when you choose to do something that is kind or supportive or loving that is not expected or part of the agreement that you have with one another, whether it be a spoken agreement or one that is unspoken. Random Acts of Kindness in your relationship equals Love in Action.

When you actively do something that is kind or supportive or nurturing that is not expected in your relationship, you are creating exquisite connections with your loved one. How can you not feel connected and loved when your partner is going above and beyond what is expected.

Even though these acts of kindness should be done ideally to show our love to our loved one, it may help to know there are big benefits for you also. Here are a few of them.

guy washing a car

  • People who partake in giving acts of kindness are happier. It feels good to do something kind for others. It is important to note that the Act of Kindness should be something you want to do, not feel you are being forced to do or hate to do. They should be genuine, authentic acts of kindness with nothing expected in return.
  • Research shows that folks who do Random Acts of Kindness  are less stressed and have stronger immune systems.
  • These acts improve your self-esteem, how you view your self.
  • And as to your relationship, it will create positive, loving feelings that will circulate throughout your relationship creating love and connection. 
  • You may find these “Random Acts of Kindness” are contagious. You too may have a “Random Act of Kindness” passed on to you, with you being the recipient. 

woman racking leaves

It is not always easy to send these “Random Acts of Kindness” out. We are busy, we are tired, we may feel we need a Random Act of Kindness to come our way. And there are times when it does not make sense to send these out. But when we can and it feels the right thing to do and we want to, it can create some very loving feelings. The love and connection and support it creates is the stuff a good relationship is build on.

For those of you who like concrete examples, here is one taken from my own personal life.  My husband went to bed early as he was exhausted from traveling and had to be up early the next day to do more traveling. As my morning did not need to start quite as early and I was feeling good due to a less intense day, I decided to put my husband’s green smoothie together for him as I knew it would be hard for him to do in the am having to leave early. Plus the truth is I am a bit of a night owl. So instead of indulging in some reading, I made my husband a smoothie to help him out with his early departure. Thus my Random Act of Kindness.

Here are a few potential ones to consider. But you will have your own unique ones that are a perfect fit for your loved one.

  • Take over a chore that is normally one assigned to your spouse or partner that you know is going to be very difficult for them to do.
  • Do a text letting them know you are thinking of them and that you love them.
  • Leave a surprise on the seat of their car to surprise them – it could be a gift or a snack or love note, etc.
  • Encourage your exhausted spouse to go to bed, even though you really want to talk with them.
  • Bring home flowers or something you know will be a happy surprise for your sweetie. 

I encourage you to try some Random Acts of Kindness out in your relationship. I think you will be glad you did. And if by chance you are the recipient of an Act of Random Kindness by your loved one, do reciprocate this act back to your dear loved one. And by all means tell them how you felt when this act of kindness of bestowed upon you. This will encourage you both to create a wonderful dance of random acts of kindness.



How to Get More of What YOU Want In Your Relationship with This Powerful Morning Ritual

4WaysToGetOutOfBed_56400221_n_lgAre there things you want in your relationship with your spouse or maybe with your child ? It may be you want more communication or more affection or time together. Regardless of what you want, you can use this simple, easy strategy to begin to get more of what you want. I am talking about using the powerful combination of Morning Gratitude and Intention. Here is the basic foundation of starting a Daily Morning Gratitude and Intention Practice.

1. Upon waking in the morning, before you get out of bed, think about what you are grateful for. In this case, as we are talking about your relationship, make sure to include what you are thankful for in regard to your relationship.  Be specific as you think about what you like that is going on in your relationship and how you appreciate these things. 

2. Then think about what you want in your relationship. Maybe it is for more communication with your spouse or maybe it is more hugs between the two of you, etc.

3. After you decide what you want then tell yourself what you want to have happen in PRESENT tense. This speeds the process.

Example: “I am communicating more with  _____________. I see us talking and connecting.”

Example: “I am spending more time with ___________. We are enjoying this time together.”

4. BELIEVE the intentions you have created.

5. Feel how good this will feel and visualize this happening.

6. Give thanks for what you foresee happening.


couple holding hands in the sunlight

This is a wonderful way to start your day. The more you do of this, the more it will work. We can set the tone and momentum for good things to happen in our relationships. We have more control that we think. Enjoy this creative wonderful process as you start your day!

Three Must Do Things to “Connect and Rejuvenate” on Your SPRING BREAK

family riding bikes

Many of you are getting ready to take spring break trips or take off time to be with your children during this official “time off” for your children. Some of you may not be able to take off official time, but plan to do a few special things with your children during this time frame. Regardless, we all want to make the best of this precious time we have with our families.

Here are three “Must Do Things” to “Connect & Rejuvenate” on your Spring Break.

1. Put some “OFF TIME” in your Spring Break. We are all so “ON” all of the time that our bodies need so badly to stop and recuperate. Yes we want to do some special, fun activities with our children. And this is important. But, remember to consider your pacing of activities so you don’t feel like you are running a race, but have time to relax and enjoy with pleasure each activity you put in place. Some like to alternate more active and more quite activities. Of course, the age of your children will make a difference. This “OFF TIME” allows you the space to really connect.

2. “BE WITH” your loved ones. This is more that doing an activity with your family. It is really focusing on and giving your full attention to your children and your spouse. This involves listening, reflecting and sharing thoughtfully – true communication.

3. Include some “TECHNOLOGY FREE TIME” in your plans. Of course we cannot chuck our iPhones for a full week, but we can take breaks from our technology. This includes our cell phones, our i pads, our lap tops, our face book accounts, our tweeting, our emailing, etc., etc. We can choose not to allow these items for ourselves as adults and for our children for certain activities or time periods.

These simple three items can increase your chances of connecting and rejuvenating during spring break regardless of your plans.

family swimming

Remember spring break is   .  .  .

  • a “break” from being in ON mode and a time for rest & relaxation
  • a “break” from your work and a time for your family
  • A” break” from your technology and a time for personal one on one with your family

Happy Spring Break to you all. Enjoy these precious moments with your loved ones!

Can I Have This Dance?

couple dancing black and white

Want to keep connected? Consider dancing. This activity is one in which we move our bodies in rhythm with each other, connecting physically as well as emotionally.  It feels so good to move in time together. You may be thinking, well . . .  I don’t know how to dance. So this won’t work for me. There is an answer, Dance Lessons.

Why you might want to consider Dance Lessons?

  • It is an activity that you both can do together.
  • It is an activity in which you are engaging fully with each other.
  • It is a message to each other that you want to be up close and personal with your partner or spouse.
  • It feels good to accomplish a new skill together.
  • It is fun!

Some things to consider as a “beginner”

  • Keep in mind that everyone starts at some point in their history not knowing anything. So it is ok not to know what you are doing. None of us do in the beginning.
  • Consider a variety of options: Community Education Intro Classes through the Public Schools, Group or Individual Lessons at a Private Dance Studio or by a Private Dance Instructor.
  • Find an instructor that is positive and a fit for you.
  • Start with one kind of  dance and get comfortable with it before  starting with more.
  • The more you practice the better you get. On the other hand if you can only devote to one class a week, enjoy the time you do have.
  • Have fun with this. Laugh at your mistakes and keep it light. And keep on going. No one cares about your mistakes.
  • Know that it will take time to learn to dance. It is a process, so enjoy the journey.

As someone who has worn beginner’s dance shoes, I would just say “Hang In There”. It feels so good as things begin to click into place and you begin to feel you can really dance.

Hope you will consider this wonderful couple’s activity. You are never too old to learn. It is well worth your time and energy!

Laughing Your Way to a Better Relationship

How can fun, laughter, and  playfulness create a better relationship? First of all this trio of “feel good” can translate to a “feel good relationship”. 

laughing couple closeup

Don’t we all want to laugh and feel light-hearted? Of course we do!  We just have to make the effort and take the time to set the environment to do so. Here are a few tips to LAUGH YOUR WAY TO A BETTER RELATIONSHIP:

1. First of all take a trip down memory lane and remember how good it feels to laugh and be playful, shedding the serious business of making a living, being a good parent, buying groceries, etc. This is not to say that these things cannot bring joy also. They can. BUT . . . when we are feeling free from worry and stress, we can feel so much more joy and happiness. So why not let it be with our loved one.

2. Make fun, laughter, and playfulness a priority. Schedule it in. Make it happen. Because it can make YOU feel better and in turn help YOUR RELATIONSHIP to feel alive and well.

3. Plan specifically for “down time” with your significant other or spouse, including playful, fun time. This will look different for different couples. If you don’t know what this might look like, then brainstorm to come up with some things you both could potentially enjoy that is light and playful. This could range from going to a funny movie together to going to the zoo to playing miniature golf to playing a game of your choosing, etc.

4. If you have very little time to “make this playfulness a part of your life” then consider some ONE MINUTE bursts of laughter and playfulness. HOW IS THAT you say. Well . . . here are a few ideas:

  • Laugh at yourself when you “mess up” and share the funny “mess up” with your loved one., creating an atmosphere of lightheartedness. 
  • Create a fun and playful greeting ritual.(maybe a hip bump or pinky hug or whatever you can come up with)
  • Show your Good MOOD, with bursts of silly, playful behavior. For example: Instead of quick kiss hello, you do an exaggerated row of 5 or 6 kisses. Your good mood will very likely rub off on your partner.
  • Tell of something funny or humorous that happened at work or home. It may be something as simple as your pet’s antics.
  • Playful teasing and bantering can create connection. We just want to make sure the teasing is fun and light, with no sensitive, potential hurtful interaction. We are talking “flirting”.

5. Visualize and create an intention that you will be happy and full of joy and will share that feeling with your sweetheart. As I like to say, “You Get What You Think.”


These breaks of playfulness and fun can create a strong connection. These times create an oasis from the sometimes difficult challenges we deal with on a day-to-day basis.

So I hope you will get busy . . Laughing Your Way to a Better Relationship!

A Time to Let Go and a Time of New Intentions for Your Relationships

With the new year, it is an excellent time to consider letting go and creating  “New Intentions” for your relationship. What does that mean? It means doing a bit of housekeeping. Out with the old and in with the new. The old being past hurts and misunderstanding and barriers to the relationship that you have with your loved one. The new being a focus on what you want for your relationship and then making a go for it. Can it be that simple? It can. So many times we choose to hang on to things that keep us from being happy.


This is not to say that you should grin and bear it. If you have some issues that need to be addressed with your loved one, then do so in a respectful way, clearing the air and space for new more pleasant feelings to take their place. Search for ways to resolve old, reoccurring  conflict with a mutual cooperative look at each of your perspectives with true listening and searching for ways to make things better. It is possible. Letting go of old hurts and unhelpful patterns are the first step to a better relationship. This creates a foundation for creating our intentions of what we really want for our relationship.

I wish for you a wonderful new year filled with relationships that are nurturing and loving, filled with lots of new intentions!

Write an Old Fashioned Love Letter

thumb(10)In today’s fast paced technology world, we sometimes forget about the lovely feeling you get when someone writes you a hand written note or letter.  Yes, it takes more time than a quick text or email or a face book entry.  But it is a something that feels special and is more treasured than some of other avenues mentioned above. This is not to say an affectionate text in real time cannot fit the bill at times or that a longer email cannot have it’s place. And I know for those who are avid face book users, a public show of love may feel very nice.

But, a LOVE LETTER is so very sweet and lovely all in it’s own right. A LOVE LETTER is something that can be kept in a special place and re-read and treasured for years to come. So consider sending a love letter to your sweetheart. The taking the time to find a piece of stationary or a blank note card and the additional time it takes to write the letter WILL be appreciated.

Here are a few possible things to consider as you write your LOVE LETTER to your special loved one.

  • Consider what you put your love letter on. It can be a piece of fun stationary that shows your personality or your loved one’s personality. Or a blank note card with a picture on the cover that is a fit for your loved one or something that makes you think of the two of you.  It may be you decide to be creative and think about something a bit more outside of the box, so to speak.  I know of a person whose love letter was written on the back of a Whole Foods sack, her favorite store as a heath food girl and then put in a small wooden box with a very pretty heart  on top. She was delighted.  Of course, really any paper or note card will do, but this extra step is a nice touch. But it is the words that count.
  • Hand write your note if at all possible. If you really have to word process it on your computer, do so. But the hand written part is part of the novelty of the old fashioned love letter.
  • Let your loved one know how special they are to you. Tell them what it is that you appreciate about them. You will have your own words.
  • Date your love letter. For it will be kept and years from now it will be glad you did.
  • Send your letter in the mail if you can. This makes it even more fun. Or you can put it in a special place in the house where they will find it. Or put it in the front seat of their car. Etc.

Note: There are quicker, shorter versions you can do of the love letter. It can be on a sticky note and put on his or her bathroom mirror. A simple “Good morning beautiful, I love you!”.  OR “Have a wonderful day, Love You!” Again, you will  have your own words and your own special places.

love letter

Have fun writing your love letters!!!  Your loved one will love you for it. ♥♥♥