Couples Relational Activities ~ Part 2: Acts of Service

Welcome back to the second part of our blog series on Couples Relational Activities!

For information on the the 5 Love Languages and to take The Love Language Quiz, click here.

In the first part, we explored the power of Words of Affirmation in strengthening relationships. Today, we delve into another love language known as Acts of Service

Acts of Service involve showing love and care through thoughtful actions and deeds. These acts can foster a deeper connection and a sense of partnership in a relationship. Let’s explore some ideas for incorporating Acts of Service into your relationship toolbox!

Plan a Surprise Date Night:

Take the initiative to plan a surprise date night for your partner. Take into consideration their preferences and plan an evening filled with their favorite activities, food, and ambiance. This act of service demonstrates your thoughtfulness and shows your partner that you are invested in their happiness.

Share Household Chores:

Pitching in with household chores can be an incredibly meaningful act of service. Collaborate with your partner to create a fair division of responsibilities. Offer to take on tasks that your partner typically handles, such as cooking a meal, doing the laundry, or cleaning the house. Taking care of these responsibilities together helps build a sense of teamwork and support.

Create a Personalized Coupon Book:

Design a personalized coupon book filled with thoughtful acts of service tailored to your partner’s needs and desires. Include coupons for activities like breakfast in bed, a massage, running errands, or a day of pampering. This gift not only shows your commitment to making your partner’s life easier but also provides an opportunity for them to enjoy special treats from you.

Plan a DIY Project:

Choose a DIY project that you and your partner can work on together. Whether it’s building a piece of furniture, creating a garden, or redecorating a room, engaging in a joint project promotes cooperation, teamwork, and the satisfaction of achieving a shared goal. This act of service allows you to create something meaningful while spending quality time together.

Prepare a Surprise Meal:

Prepare a delicious meal for your partner, taking into account their favorite dishes and dietary preferences. Surprise them with a beautifully set table, their favorite cuisine, and a lovingly cooked meal. The effort and time you invest in creating this culinary experience will be deeply appreciated and cherished.

Support Their Goals:

An act of service can also involve supporting your partner’s personal goals and aspirations. Show genuine interest in their dreams and ambitions, and offer your assistance and encouragement along the way. Be their cheerleader, attend their events, help with research or planning, and provide a listening ear when they need to talk through their ideas or concerns.

Take Care of Their Self-Care:

Encourage your partner’s self-care routine by taking the initiative to provide them with moments of relaxation and rejuvenation. Run a warm bath for them, create a spa-like atmosphere in your home, or offer to give them a soothing massage. These acts of service show your partner that their well-being is a priority.


Incorporating Acts of Service into your relationship can be a powerful way to demonstrate your love, care, and commitment. Whether it’s planning surprise date nights, sharing household responsibilities, or supporting each other’s goals, these acts strengthen the bond between you and your partner. Remember, the key is to engage in acts of service with authenticity and a genuine desire to enhance your partner’s well-being. Stay tuned for the next part of our series, where we will explore more ways to nurture your relationship!

Stay tuned for Couples Relational Activities ~ Part 3!

Disclaimer: There are times for relationship self-help, and there are times that you should reach out for help. If the relationship is abusive (physical, psychological, emotional or otherwise) reach out for help! If your relationship difficulties feel overwhelming, please consult our couple’s counseling page:

Also, if you or your partner is suffering from underlying mental health problems, consider reaching out out for a free initial consultation. California Women’s Therapy is here to help!

This blog was written by Dr. Jordyn Trockman, Founder of California Women’s Therapy.

Couples Relational Activities ~ Part 1 ~ Words of Affirmation

Couples Relational Activities ~ Part 1 ~ Words of Affirmation

It is a well-known fact that relationships are hard. Relationships take dedication, energy, and willingness to compromise. To guide you on your journey, we’re launching a 5-part series highlighting couples relational activities, organized around the 5 Love Languages.

According to author Gary Chapman, there are five love languages, and our “love languages” describe how we receive love from others. Here’s a brief overview of the 5 Love Languages:

Words of Affirmation – Saying supportive things to your partner

Acts of Service – Doing helpful things for your partner

Receiving Gifts – Giving your partner gifts that tell them you were thinking about them

Quality Time – Spending meaningful time with your partner

Physical Touch – Being close to and caressed by your partner

If you are struggling in your relationship or you want to build a stronger foundation, we’re sharing activities from each of these love languages that can help your relationship flourish. 

Not all the techniques we offer will fit you or your specific relationship, but you won’t know unless you try! Test these out and stick with the ones that work for you. The idea is to create a new way to relate to your partner. Also, these activities are not a “one and done” endeavor but are meant to be continuously used as your relationship grows and develops. 

Words of Affirmation

In the first post in this series, we’re offering couples relational activities based on the love language of “words of affirmation.” Words of affirmation are verbal expressions of our love and affection. Each of the following activities will help you focus on sharing compliments, appreciation, and/or encouragement with your partner. 

The Good Qualities List

There are times in our life, and in our relationships, where everything seems to be going wrong. When that happens, it is important to remind ourselves of the good things. The things that are going right, even if they are small. Relationships are the same. It can be helpful for you to remember why you appreciate, love, and cherish your partner. It can also be important for your partner to hear the reasons why you appreciate, love and cherish them. We sometimes take our loved ones for granted, and we have to remember to take the time to tell them how much we care for them. The good qualities list is a way to remind couples of why they love each other.

To begin you Good Qualities List, write (or type) the end of the following statements with at least three responses each:

1.     I appreciate my partner because…

2.     My partner shows me they care by…

3.     The memories I cherish the most of our time together include…

4.     The qualities that first drew me to my partner are…

 Once you’re done creating your list, share these with your partner! Watch as your list makes them feel appreciated and loved, and then feel that love reflected back. 

Five Things… Go!

Sometimes, being spontaneous can be fun! Decide on a theme, and then list five things. . Just list what comes to mind. The theme can be about your partner (theme example: “things I like about you”) or more action focused (theme examples: “things I want to do together”).

Have fun with your list and let it take you where it leads. This is a fun activity that shows what is on your mind. It can also help clear the air or direct further conversation. 

Never Go to Bed Angry

We have all heard the saying never go to bed angry, but do we all follow this advice? Negative emotions can hurt our ability to sleep, making it hard to successfully “sleep it off.” Instead, it’s best to move into a different headspace before going to bed.

Finish the night on a good note by sharing something positive about your partner. Tell them something that you love about them or something nice in general. And, listen to them when they tell you something positive. Then, if the problem or conflict still exists in the morning you can deal with it together when you’re both rested.

Swap out “You” Statements for “I” Statements

In relationships, it’s important to be careful with your words. “You” statements often come across as accusatory. For example, “You are horrible!” instead of, “I feel hurt.” How you communicate with your partner is vital. Remember, you are trying to communicate a problem, not trying to place blame. When used properly, “I” statements discuss how you feel, instead of hurting or attacking your partner. The goal is to share how you are being impacted rather than harping on what your partner has (or has not) done.

Stay tuned for Couples Relational Activities ~ Part 2!

Disclaimer: There are times for relationship self-help, and there are times that you should reach out for help. If the relationship is abusive (physical, psychological, emotional or otherwise) reach out for help! If your relationship difficulties feel overwhelming, please consult our couple’s counseling page:

Also, if you or your partner is suffering from underlying mental health problems, consider reaching out out for a free initial consultation. California Women’s Therapy is here to help!

This blog was written as a collaborative effort by Sydney Brabble & Berklea Going, interns with California Women’s Therapy.

Post-Baby Disconnect? 3 Ways to Stay More Connected After Having a Baby

No matter how many times they were warned, few new parents are prepared for the life-changing event of the birth of their first child. No more sleeping in on Saturday, then heading to your favorite restaurant for brunch with friends. These leisurely activities are replaced with sleepless nights and endless diaper changes.

It’s no surprise then that many couples feel a disconnect after the birth of their first child. This is the time when focus (especially the new mom’s) very suddenly and drastically shifts towards the baby. And, since couples spend less time focused on each other’s needs, the romance and intimacy declines and resentment and anger takes its place.

Though it will take a bit of work, there are things new parents can do to ensure they stay committed to each other and the relationship while still providing their new baby with plenty of love and attention. Here are three ways you can stay more connected after having a baby.

Keep the Friendship Alive

The healthiest couples are the ones who are best friends. And it is within this friendship that intimacy is born and lives. But, when you’re both exhausted and scared and frustrated, it’s easy to see each other as the enemy.

If you want to keep the passion alive, you’ve got to focus on keeping the friendship alive. Simply try and use whatever energy you have at the end of the day to be nice to one another. Ask how their day was. Ask what needs to be done around the house. Make them laugh. Get them a beer, rub their feet. Small kindnesses will go a long, long way toward keeping you both connected.

Allow Each Other to Vent

Along with a fussy baby who seems to need something every 20 minutes (all night long), the both of you will still be dealing with other life stressors, like the commute to work, noisy neighbors, and a car that starts when it feels like it.

In order for you to feel like you’re on the same side – like you’ve got each other’s back – it’s important that you allow each other to vent about the frustrations of your day as separate from the relationship. This way you will gain each other’s support and show empathy. And, when both parties feel heard and supported, you stand a much better chance of getting rid of any unwanted tension.

Be Gentle with Each Other

When you are exhausted and at your wits end, it’s entirely too easy to take it out on each other. And, there will no doubt be plenty of times when the two of you are in disagreement about something. When this happens, be sure to always treat your partner gently, as gently as you’re treating your new baby. Staying calm and respectful will keep you connected to each other.

The biggest thing you can do to stay connected is to be aware both of each other’s needs and your own behavior. If you spend time and energy focused on creating a strong relationship, you and your partner will thrive during 3 o’clock feedings and beyond.

Some couples may find they need a therapist to help them reconnect. If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

How to Set Healthy Boundaries During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Are you wondering how to set healthy boundaries during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Relationships can only be healthy when both people have the space to be themselves and maintain their personal integrity. This can be especially challenging while “shelter at home” and “safer at home” restrictions are in place. Sadly, many people find themselves in relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people who do not respect boundaries and feel entitled to have their needs met regardless of the other person’s. These people most likely grew up in households that were unsafe and unstable, and where there was a constant invasion of personal boundaries.

If you can relate, chances are you have a hard time creating healthy boundaries to create the life experience you wish to have. This unique time in our history is an excellent time to learn to create healthy boundaries within your relationship. Here are some ways you can begin to do so:

Identify Your Limits

You can’t set boundaries unless you discover where it is you personally stand. You’ll need to take a bit of time to recognize what you can and cannot tolerate. What makes you happy and what makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed? Only until you have made these discoveries can you move on to the next steps.

Don’t Be Shy

People who have similar communication styles are easy to engage with. These people will quickly understand what your new barriers are. But people who have a different cultural background or personality may not easily understand your boundaries. With these people, it’s important to be very clear and direct.

Pay Attention to Your Feelings

People who have a hard time setting boundaries don’t often allow themselves to acknowledge their own feelings because they’re usually too busy worrying about everyone else’s.

You’ll need to start recognizing how people make you feel in order to know whether your new boundaries are being crossed or not. When you’re with someone, make mental notes, or even jot down in a journal how that interaction made you feel.

If, after spending time with someone, you feel anger or resentment, this is a sign that the person may be overstepping your boundaries. Reiterate to this person what your boundaries are. If they continue to disrespect you and them, you will want to cut yourself away from further interactions.

Make Self-Care a Priority

Put yourself and your needs first. This may feel strange and even somehow wrong if you’ve spent your entire life taking care of others. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings and get what you need to feel happy and well.

Speak with Someone

If you’ve spent an entire life with a sense of low self-worth, you may find setting boundaries quite difficult. In this case, it’s important to speak with a therapist that can help you discover where these feelings are coming from and how to change your thought patterns and behavior.

If you’d like to explore therapy, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to help you on your journey toward self-care.

Trauma & Relationships: 5 Ways to Increase Connection this Valentine’s Day

Priscilla Du Preez

Valentine’s Day can bring up a lot of emotions. For some, it represents a day of romance and encourages expressions of love. However, this can often put unhealthy pressures and expectations on a relationship or can lead to uncoupled individuals feel left out and minimized by society. Many people dread this day or become frustrated with its American commercialization. For individuals who’ve experienced Trauma, these challenges are further compounded by difficulties with intimacy and vulnerability.  

If you’ve experienced Trauma, you may find yourself struggling to connect with others or have difficulty feeling positive emotions such as love or happiness. You may find yourself thinking “I can’t trust people,” “others will take advantage of me,” or “they’ll just let me down anyways, so what’s the point.” You may also suffer from low self-esteem and believe that you don’t deserve love or people who care about you. This may lead to pushing people away, self-sabotage, or diving into toxic relationships with those who would mistreat you.

Rather than continuing to stay stuck in this downward spiral, here are 5 ways to help yourself become more connected:

  1. Self-Care

You may see this term showing up everywhere and initially dismiss it. What does self-care even mean?! Does staying home all weekend in the same clothes and binge-watching Netflix count? Part of connecting with others involves connecting with yourself and acknowledging that you deserve care. It doesn’t have to be a big step like treating yourself to a spa day (although those are quite nice). Self-care can be basic grooming, eating regular/balanced meals, and exercise. It can mean taking a stroll around your neighborhood or sipping your favorite tea. Any behavior, no matter how small, that shows yourself that you matter.

  1. Contributing

Giving can be an incredible way to connect and feel valued. It can also help improve the quality of your relationships and overall outlook. Contributing doesn’t necessarily mean donating money or volunteer work. Both may be great options, but it can also look like showing people kindness through sending a friend a supportive text or paying a co-worker a compliment. Sometimes people may go overboard and become so selfless, that they neglect their own needs. If you find yourself with this tendency, it’s okay to still contribute, but you may want to pay special attention to the paragraph on Self-Care.  

  1. Be Part of Your Community 

As humans, we are social beings. It is a natural and essential need to connect with others and be part of a larger community. We are not alone, and we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. This involvement can be as active or passive as you choose. Sometimes this means participating in your spirituality by attending services/events. It can be going to a Farmer’s market, taking a group workout class, or sitting at a café, simply sharing space with others in your neighborhood. 

  1. Initiate Plans

Too many people wait around for someone else to initiate plans. This can not only be anxiety-provoking but often discouraging. It leaves the door open for all those insecurities to rush in and convince us that there’s no hope and we’re destined to be alone, or it may make us doubt our current relationships. Rather than giving our power to someone else who decides if and when we will meet, reach out and take that first empowered step. 

  1. Group Hang Out

In our modern age, we are no longer restricted to traditional ways of celebrating holidays. Social gatherings like Friendsgiving have become the norm. We often associate Valentine’s Day with a time dedicated to our romantic partners but showing love to our friends and family can offer just as much meaning. The days surrounding Valentine’s Day might be the perfect opportunity to plan something special with these significant others in your life. This might look like hosting a dinner/game night or gathering the girls for a brunch or a hike. If hosting sounds like a big commitment, see if someone else is interested in organizing the activity with your help. 

This blog post was written by Dr. Talia Barach, licensed clinical psychologist. She specializes in helping others overcome the negative impacts of trauma and move forward in their lives. Visit our “Dr. Talia” page to learn more.

4 Ways to Improve Communication in Your Relationship

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you and your significant other have hit a snag in the relationship. Maybe you’re spending less time with each other and you’ve grown apart. Or maybe you do little else than argue these days.

All relationships go through their ups and downs. No matter the good intentions of the individuals or how in love you were when the relationship began, it is completely natural for a relationship to take a hit every now and then.

In some ways, these trials can be a good thing. Much like you need to break down muscle to build it up stronger than it was before, many relationships can be strengthened by challenges, provided your communication is healthy.

Here are some ways to improve communication in your relationship:

1. Recognize the Change

It’s important to be open and honest with yourself and each other. Don’t deny that something has changed in your relationship, admit it openly. You may also need to recognize that each of you has changed over the years. None of us stays the same. Our wants, needs, passions, annoyances, etc. change as we mature and grow as people. People can usually accommodate this change as long as they admit it has happened.

2. Validate Each Other’s Feelings

There are two words that are very powerful in communication, “Yes, and…” Effective communication is not about one person being right and the other wrong. Often, both people are right and allowed to feel their feelings. Try not to attack the other person or get them to compromise on issues. Instead, focus on simply being heard and hearing the other person.

3. Be Ready to Change

If you want to improve your communication as a means to get the other person to change their ways, you are really thinking about this communication thing all wrong! Good communication is not about winning an argument. This is not a debate class. Your goal is to better share your thoughts, feelings, ideas, hopes and struggles with each other. Don’t be so focused on getting the other person to change and focus more on how your own behavior could change.

4. Breathe

Managing your emotions is one of the most important skills when it comes to interpersonal interaction. How often are you ready to blow when you and your spouse or partner are speaking to each other? How does the communication breakdown once you or your partner have become emotional?

When communicating with your partner, or anyone, should you feel your emotions rise, stop, take a slow, deep breath, and let it out. Taking this moment is important and will help you not to say something you’ll regret or that will escalate the situation.

None of us are perfect. All we can do is try to be the best versions of ourselves we can be for ourselves and our loved ones. By following these communication tips you will be able to strengthen your relationships.