“I love you”- chances are good those three little words were the foundation of your marriage. However, chances are just as good that you and your spouse say them less now than while you were dating or when you were newlyweds.
That’s natural to an extent. People get busy. We get wrapped up in our careers, caring for kids, hobbies, and so much more, and thereby, people lose focus, and the importance of saying I love you takes a back seat.
A lot of the things you and your spouse used to do for one another have probably fallen by the wayside. How often do you flirt with each other, for instance? When was the last time one of you bought a “just because” gift for the other?
Too often, saying “I love you” falls into that category of things we just don’t think about doing any longer.
The problem is that as the frequency with which we tell our spouses we love them declines, a gulf slowly grows between us. If left unaddressed, it can grow into a deep, dark chasm that can only be bridged with difficulty, if at all.
Why say I love you? Why does saying “I Love You” matter? What’s the importance of saying ‘I love you’?
Why does it matter that we take time to tell our spouses that we love them? It’s easy to fall into this mental pattern. We’re with them, right? Are we still married? We do things for them, buy them gifts, and spend time with them. Shouldn’t they just, well, know that we love them?
Even if you think that they know, saying it matters. When you tell your spouse that you love them, you reaffirm your love for them, but also for your relationship. You tell them that you value their presence and your marriage. It’s about emphasizing care, commitment, and appreciation.
There’s an importance of saying ‘I love you’ because not saying “I love you” can create distance between you and begin eroding the connection that you feel with one another. You may begin to feel unappreciated or that your spouse doesn’t value the relationship.
The good news is that changing the paradigm is pretty simple.
Once you have understood the importance of saying ‘I love you,’ you will realize that you can express your emotions in so many ways. Check out the tips on saying you love someone:
1. Be mindful and say it
After comprehending the importance of saying I love you, perhaps the single most important tip is this – be mindful of the times that you don’t say “I love you” and commit to changing it.
Simply making an effort to say those three little words more often can have a profound impact on your relationship and what you get out of it. Take time every day to tell your spouse that you love them, but don’t do it in passing. Be intentional. Make it meaningful.
For instance, put your hand on their shoulder, look into their eyes, and deliberately say, “I love you.” Hold eye contact while you’re saying it and afterward.
How often should you say it?
There’s really no set-in-stone answer. It’s not about keeping score or reaching some imaginary daily threshold where saying those words magically strengthens your relationship. It’s about creating a mindful connection with your spouse through those three words and the emotion behind them.
Of course, saying the words is one thing. Showing love is something else altogether. How can you show your spouse your love and how much you appreciate and value them, and what they bring to your life?
2. Gratitude as love
Cultivating a sense of gratitude in your life has profound benefits for your mental and emotional health. Nationwide Children’s Hospital points out several scientifically proven benefits it can offer, and Berkeley University has explored how gratitude can create a sense of deep peace and even dramatically change your brain.
It could be something as simple as remembering to say “thank you” when your spouse does something for you. Or, you could go to greater lengths – write thank-you letters or notes, for instance. It’s about taking time, noticing what your spouse does, and giving heartfelt thaks.
Take over their responsibilities for a period. It’s a great way to say “I see you”, “I love you”, and “I appreciate you” all at one time.
For instance, if one spouse regularly makes dinner, why not step in and take over one night every two weeks as a way to say thanks and show your love? The same thing can apply to any responsibility or chore around the house that tends to fall on one spouse. When you do this, you say, “I see that you do this all the time, and I know it’s hard. I appreciate and love you. Let me show you my appreciation.”
4. Call them by name
Married couples develop all kinds of pet names for one another. Chances are good if you use words to say I love you and refer to one another as “babe” or “baby”, “honey” or “hon”, “sweetheart,” or “sweetie” almost exclusively.
While those are certainly terms of endearment, it’s worth changing things up every now and then. Call your spouse by their name instead of your pet name or nickname for them. This shows them that your words are truly for them and that you are intentionally speaking to them.
5. Find a hobby or activity to do together
While you were dating and after getting married, you and your spouse probably did most things together. After several years, that changes, though. You have different work schedules, different responsibilities, and probably different interests.
That lack of shared interests or time together can drive a wedge quickly and deeply.
To combat this tendency, find some interesting or fun things to do together. It doesn’t have to be anything major, either. Go for a morning walk or jog together. Plant a small garden together. Find a TV show that you both love to watch and don’t mind talking about or laughing over with one another. Time together is the ultimate “I love you.”
6. Make time for romance
Life has a habit of getting in the way. Even if you once made regular time for date nights and romance in your lives, over the years, responsibilities and life events tend to make those experiences more challenging. Unfortunately, that can make it more difficult to send a message of love.
By making time for romance in your life, you can find one more nonverbal way to say, “I love you.” Of course, you can certainly say those three words, but your actions should speak loudly here. You’re taking time out of your day or evening to spend it with your spouse while doing something special for both of you.
What are your options? They’re nearly endless: a romantic dinner for two, a movie night (at home or in a theater), an escape room, or even adate night box packed with games and fun for you and your spouse. Some other out-of-the-box ideas that break the conventional date night mold include:
Going for a picnic
Going out for karaoke
Ballroom or swing dancing lessons
A couple’s massage
Go to a comedy club
Relive your first date (assuming that’s something you want to relive!)
The importance of saying I love is realized when you observe the changes it brings to the relationship. With that being said, you’ll want to follow a few key tips for date night success.
Make time for fun
Rekindling that deep connection with your spouse is very important. However, don’t underestimate the power of having fun. Simply laughing together can be an incredibly strong bonding experience.
Regularly laughing with your spouse is just as important as remembering to say, “I love you.” If necessary, remember the words of Agnes Repplier, famed essayist and biographer: “We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.”
Life happens. Things crop up. Plans go awry. Be prepared for that. Your picnic might be marred by a thunderstorm, or your night out at the arcade could be put off because of a family emergency. Be flexible, take a deep breath, smile, and tell your spouse you love them.
Don’t get so attached to an outcome that when things don’t go just right you get bent out of shape.
Real Intimacy Is the goal
Yes, some adult time might be great, and chances are it’s something that you’re both hoping will come from date night. However, don’t equate physical intimacy with real intimacy.
There’s so much more to a strong marriage than just being good in bed with one another. The goal of your date night should be to create a sense of real intimacy where you and your spouse connect on a deep level.
Check out these 6 types of intimacy important in a relationship:
Saying “I love you” is so very important for a healthy, strong marriage. Without it, that distance between you can grow into a chasm. Make time to say it to one another.
Don’t limit yourself to words alone, though. Show your spouse that you love them with your actions and how you interact with them. Show your gratitude, make time for one another, and find ways to laugh together every single day.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
'Cristian is the Director of Operations at Crated with Love, a date night company. He has been working on helping couples improve their relationships through regular date nights, growth, and laughter for several years. Over that time, he has helped thousands of couples see a significant improvement in their relationships and overall happiness