I love you. Hearing those three little words can change your life. If they’re uttered by someone you love in return they can lead to commitment, marriage and a family. You’re elated the first time the words escape his lips. You long to hear them everyday. It’s reassuring and comforting. Your heart soars to hear it spoken. But how about after the hundredth or thousandth time you hear it? Does it have the same impact?
Fast forward past the beginning of the relationship, that magical and exciting time when gazing at that person across the room left you misty eyed. You’ve since made the leap to something more. You might be living together or married with children. You probably spend a lot more time sitting on the couch together in your sweats than you used to. It’s likely you’ve seen each other at your best, worst and everything in between. In this phase, it’s easy to fall into a rut and become lazy or complacent.
The words “I love you” may not pack as much of a punch as they did in the honeymoon phase, when they were backed up by frequent, passionate love-making, romantic dinner dates and grand displays of affection. Our lives, although enriched by love, often become more complicated once we commit and settle down. The responsibility of juggling family, work and bills is tiring and can cause us to neglect our partner.
This is the time we need to step it up. The cliche is spot on: actions speak louder than words. You love me? Show me. A lifetime together can be long. Small, everyday reminders of your love will be more meaningful than absentmindedly repeating I love you. A simple gesture once in a while may be all that’s needed to breathe life back into your relationship.
Read on for 10 surefire ways to keep the spark alive.
Touching is an important form of communication in a relationship. Being touched by your partner lowers anxiety and stress and increases intimacy. Make a point to touch each other frequently throughout the day. An embrace in the morning, a squeeze of the hand while you’re shopping together, a short back rub while watching TV all say I love you.
Being a good listener is vital in a relationship. Being heard makes you feel validated, respected and loved. By listening, you are communicating to your loved one that he is important to you. Listening–truly listening–is an art form. It’s harder to do than you think. Put your listening skills to the test by keeping track of how many times in a day you interrupt your partner or find yourself formulating a response in your head while he is talking. Chances are that you’re not as good a listener as you think. Make an effort to stop what you are doing when he talks. Make eye contact, nod and repeat back what he’s saying.
Part of listening is remembering. Make a point to let him know you appreciate him by taking note of your partner’s likes and dislikes. If your sweetie has a thing for ice cream, keep it stocked in the freezer. Order take-out from his favorite restaurant. Download the song he heard and loved on the radio. Remember to put the cap back on the toothpaste if leaving it off bothers him. Rent his favorite movie.
Love is not selfish. Hand over the remote, give him the first bite of the mouth-watering dish the waiter just set in front of you, save the last cookie in the jar for him.
Do it when it’s least expected. Warm up his car while he’s getting ready for work, empty the recycling bin, take over dish duty for the night, buy his mother a birthday present or pick up his shirts at the dry cleaners. Watch how fast he puts his arms around you when he notices what you’ve done.
The biggest complaint among married couples is that they don’t have enough time for themselves. Possibly the most loving thing you can do is to take the reins for the day and give your partner what he’s craving: a break. Invite his buddies over for game day or a poker night and provide the food. Buy him and a friend a ticket to the hockey game. Knowing you’re thinking about him can have a trickle down effect. He’ll be more relaxed and able to focus on you after his day off.
Leave love notes in inconspicuous places like his tool box or shaving kit for him to find. Send sexy texts to him while he’s at work or spray your perfume on a piece of paper, kiss it with red lipstick, write “see you tonight” underneath and slip it into his back pocket before he leaves the house.
Surprise him with an outing to the place you met, had a first date or fell in love. Organize a weekend away to a spot he’s been wanting to visit. Hire a babysitter during the day, pack a picnic and go for a hike.
We all know the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Throw on an apron (and nothing else) and whip up something he loves but wouldn’t normally cook for himself. Hate to cook? It will mean even more. Make enough so he can take the leftovers to work. He will think of you while he eats.
- Love yourself
It’s a scenario we’ve witnessed numerous times on “Oprah.” The frumpy, hard-working, high-waisted-jean-wearing mom has an aha! moment and finally gets a makeover after years of neglecting herself. She busts through a giant “before” picture rocking her new look and everyone gasps. The camera pans from her smiling face to her husband’s. They both have that I-can’t-wait-to-get-you-home look in their eyes. She’s got her groove back and he loves it.
Don’t let yourself turn into a “before” picture! Putting thought and effort into your appearance sends the message to your partner that you love and value yourself and you love and value him. Shave your legs, get a pedicure, change your hairstyle, buy some lacy underwear, exercise, take a class. You’ll both be happier if you give to yourself.