February is the month of love. We think about our partner, and at times we wish we could reclaim the passion that we felt early in the relationship, or we wonder where it has gone. For the lucky ones, the passion remains and is incorporated into daily life. For the average relationship, though, the intense passion has subsided, especially if the stresses of life, including family life, are part of the equation. Saying “I love you” often means something different 15 years into the relationship than it did 15 months into the relationship. So, how do we continue to show our partner that we are “in love” when the intensity of infatuation has waned?
- Of course, “I love you” is still very important. No matter how long you have been together, your partner will always appreciate being reminded that you love him.
The next 13 ways of saying “I love you” are divided into Appreciation, Apology, and Influence. Showing your partner that she is appreciated lets her know that you are not taking the relationship for granted. Being able to say “I’m sorry” in different ways lets your partner know that you are willing to keep the lines of communication open, even when you disagree. Allowing your partner to influence your decisions or opinions tells your partner that you still find his input valuable.
So, how do we say this in our daily life and relationship? (Taken from Gottman’s Repair Checklist)
- Thank you for (e.g. being open about…)
- One thing I admire about you is…
- I am thankful for…
- I know this isn’t your fault.
- Let me start again in a softer way.
- I can see my part in all of this.
- My reaction was too extreme. Sorry.
- Let’s try that one over again.
- I see what you are talking about.
- You’re starting to convince me.
- I agree with a part of what you are saying here.
- I think your point of view makes sense.
- What are your concerns?
Loving your partner is more than saying “I love you,” although those three words continue to be important even after 50 years of marriage. You show your partner that you love him by trying to maintain an emotional connection even when you disagree. You regularly express appreciation, respect, and stay open to influence. This shows your partner that you value her opinion and want to maintain connection, even when you express differences.
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