Recently, on a cross country flight, my husband and I were seated on opposite sides of the aisle. Several times, he leaned my way to ask, Would you like some of my salad? Can I get you something to drink? Once he offered to share the last bite of his cookie. A while later, he reached over and touched my arm, just to say hi. At the end of the flight the woman next to me said, “Your husband really loves you. I can tell.”
And she’s right. He does.
As couples, we often express love through our actions — a note left on the bathroom mirror, a gentle touch, a twinkle in our eye. We say, “drive safely.” “Take an umbrella.” We kiss each other goodnight.
For many of us, these small gestures say I love you more powerfully than if we’d actually spoken those three little words.
While it’s always sweet to hear or say I love you — it is our simple, everyday acts of kindness, the ways we treat each other, day in and day out, that truly communicate our love.
We all have our own tried and true ways. Here are some to add to your list:
1. Be willing to do the stuff neither of you wants to do without keeping score.
2. Receive and acknowledge your partner’s acts of love. The happiest couples are those who notice and respond when their partner reaches out.
3. Strive to be patient — with yourself and your spouse.
4. Clean up, above and beyond the call of duty.
5. Let an un-cleaned up mess go without comment.
6. Let down your guard. Vulnerability and intimacy are one and the same.
7. Give your spouse your full-on, undivided attention. Not every minute of every day, but show up when it counts.
8. Flirt. You’re never too old or married too long to make it clear that the two of you have still got it going on.
9. Go out of your way. Be the one who walks the dog in the rain, drives across town to pick up the babysitter or get the best peaches, is willing to make a late night run to the store to get cereal for breakfast.
10. Look for the humor in those less-than-endearing behaviors. What’s not to love about someone who second guesses the weather man?
11. Keep two feet in, even when things are difficult. Commitment is about staying with your challenges long enough to make things better.
12. Assume it’s your job to put a new roll of toilet paper on the holder. Fair or not, this is not an issue worth getting worked up over.
13. Cut your partner some slack. We all forget things, lose things, or screw things up. Why rub it in?
14. Be willing to sleep with the window open a little more than you like.
15. Be willing to sleep with the window closed a little more than you like.
16. Stay in touch. We all lead busy lives, but not so busy that we can’t take a moment to send a text, or leave a quick voice mail. Something as simple as xo clearly says, “I’m thinking of you.”
17. Be sure to leave enough gas in the car, enough hot water when you both need to shower, enough milk for coffee.
18. Decide not to elbow your snoring spouse, at least once in a while. Chances are you’ll eventually snore, too.
19. Make your relationship a priority — have a date night, a weekend getaway, keep work hours within bounds. As an added bonus: turn off your phone.
20. Make dinner. You don’t have to be Julia Child. Keep it simple if need be and give it your best shot.
21. Encourage and support each other’s moves towards growth and change.
22. Let your spouse overhear you telling someone how great, smart, beautiful, gracious she is.
23. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally so you have as much as possible to offer.
24. Be the first one to reach out after a fight.
25. Keep in mind that life is short. Don’t waste time holding grudges or focusing on petty upsets that, in the big picture, mean nothing. Why not focus, instead, on what’s good?
Now over to you… What are your favorite ways to show your spouse that you care?
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