The phrase, “ I love you,” is often considered the ultimate statement of affection. It’s seen as the peak of a relationship and the greatest way to proclaim connection. While “I love you” is a pretty meaningful phrase, it’s one that we use a lot in our relationships. So why not mix it up a bit? Go beyond “I love you,” and let your partner know how you truly feel.
I appreciate you
Appreciation involves a powerful combination of notice and gratitude, and it’s one of the things I think people crave most in relationships. Whether it’s a small act at breakfast or a save the day kind of move, noticing and appreciating your partner is important. Take this a step further and name small things you appreciate throughout a day. “I appreciate that you got up with the baby, even though it was my turn. I appreciate you taking the lead on our taxes this year. I appreciate how good you are with my family.” Appreciation has a powerful impact on the receiver, but also on the giver, as it helps us recognize our partner’s positive qualities.
I trust you
Trust isn’t just about fidelity and honesty; it’s much broader than that. Trust involves vulnerability and giving up control, something most of us don’t do well. When your significant other says they’ll take care of something, ditch the typical “okay,” and replace it with “I trust you.” This simple phrase reminds each of you of the power of your connection.
I believe in you
Self-doubt is something almost all humans experience, and we often turn to our partners in times when self-doubt is running high. There are lots of ways to offer encouragement and support, and this phrase is simple yet powerful. “I believe in you,” reminds your partner that when things get tough, when it seems overwhelming, and when they doubt themselves, you still see their strengths and potential. Next time your significant other is struggling, try this phrase.
I hear you
The number one thing I hear couples say in therapy is that they don’t feel heard. The desire to be heard and validated is so important that many couples therapists spend several sessions just on the act of listening. This phrase is particularly important when you and your partner may not completely agree or see eye to eye. Before launching into your point of view, stop, listen, and then let them know they were heard. Bonus points if you can paraphrase their point of view or highlight the emotions they’re communicating.
I love you because…
Let’s face it, the phrase “I love you,” is an oldie but a goodie. There’s a reason we say it so often. But let’s give this phrase a little facelift, by adding the word “because,” followed by a reason. It can be something small such as, “I love you because you went back out to the car to get my phone so I didn’t have to.” Or it could be something bigger like, “I love you because you are so kind to others.” Adding this extra piece can make this phrase feel more personal and unique, and it also helps us stay appreciative of our partners and their goodness.
“I love you” will always be a powerful phrase in relationships, but try something different this week and see how it shifts the connection in your relationship.