When you first fell in love, everything was rosy. That’s because both of you were looking through rose-colored glasses.
Your relationship was exciting and perfect. And you had no trouble expressing this to each other in long talks and sweet notes.
Fast-forward years down the road. Your love has grown and deepened to another level. As you weathered life’s storms together, you’ve developed a deeper love than ever before. But the rose-colored glasses have come off.
Saying loving things toward one another takes a bit more effort, especially with everything you have on your platters. Jobs, kids, parents and so many other responsibilities get in the way. And you start to take your steady rock for granted.
If you’ve been out of that “new” stage for a while, here are some tips from my research and professional experience, along with the website verywellmind.com, to help jump-start your thinking.
One of the best things you can do for your relationship is to practice saying little phrases, like the ones below, as much as possible — in your own genuine way. Bonus points if you can inject some playful banter or an affectionate nickname into the mix.
- “I understand.”
When love matures and you experience life together, you really get to know what makes each other tick.
Let’s say your significant other tells you about a problem at work. Because of your history together, you know how this makes him or her feel. Saying, “I understand,” really says, “I get you.”
It’s a comfort to know someone gets you without having to explain everything. Having this connection is fundamental to long-lasting love.
- “Yes, I’d love to.”
Going to the theater or a sporting event may not be your thing. If your significant other loves these things, though, you could show your support and go along occasionally.
“Yes, I’d love to,” sends a strong signal. It comes across as “I want to share what you like.”
- “We’ll get through it.”
Weathering a storm can mean a lot of things for couples: enduring a death, going through financial difficulties, losing a job, coping with major health issues, etc.
It’s important to make sure your partner feels your love through it all. When you say, “We’ll get through it,” you’re really saying, “We’re a team, and I’m on your side.”
- “You look great.”
Over the years you may have stopped noticing when your partner has made a special effort. Extra pounds or a few wrinkles may have crept up. So, hearing an encouraging word can go a long way.
You may think it’s a compliment to say, “Is that new?” And that’s true because it shows you noticed. Just don’t follow it up with, “How much did it cost?”
- “Thank you.”
Any couple that has been together for a while will start to take each other for granted, to some extent. There’s a tendency to expect the other person to fulfill his or her role without asking, and without noticing when they’ve done well.
“Thank you” are the two simplest words to say — and also the most important ones. When you say this, your partner will feel good that you noticed their contribution.
- “What does support look like to you?”
Think about some “random acts of kindness” you could do for your partner. Ask how you can help him or her with their platter of responsibilities. This translates into “I want to help lessen your burden.”
Another phrase I learned years ago is, “What does support look like to you right now?” Sometimes you assume you know. Then you frame it in the way you’d like to receive support, although your partner may really be longing for something else.
- “Thanks for being in my life.”
After you’ve been with someone for years, you may think he or she magically knows how much you care about them. Unless your partner hears it from time to time, though, it may not come across.
When you say “thanks for being in my life” to your partner, it says you think he or she is special — and that you love spending your time with them.
- “I’m here for you.”
One of the best parts of being a couple is always having someone to lean on. Remind your spouse that he or she can always count on you.
When you say, “I love you, and I’m here for you,” this actually translates to, “I’m your partner for life.” Being partners means you stick up for each other and always have each other’s backs.
Two minutes makes a big difference
This is one of my favorite reminders. When your partner comes through the front door, stop to greet him or her.
Look up from your smartphone, TV program, computer, book or recipe. Put the sound on mute temporarily. Connect with him or her about their day.
You’ll be amazed at the difference this can make. Your partner will feel good that they’ve been acknowledged and that they’re a priority in your life.
If you stay buried in what you were doing, it sends a not-so-subtle message. My husband, John, and I always observe this rule. On the few occasions we get off track, we’ll utter “two minutes” — and reboot.
Practice makes perfect
There you have it: eight phrases to mix and match as situations show up in your “living laboratory of life.”
As the website verywell.com advises, don’t let one day pass without saying supportive things to your partner. Feel free to clip or print these suggestions as a guide.
In today’s world of uncertainty, these phrases can go a long way to assure your partner feels appreciated, validated, safe and secure.
And that’s golden.