by Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D.
To keep romance alive and nurture the intimacy in your marriage, you'll want to know a number of ways to express your feelings to your spouse. There are certainly times when you'll want to put a significant amount of time and energy into a project that shows your love for your spouse in a major way, such as planning a surprise birthday dinner party that includes family and friends or a new deck that you spend several weekends building.
But it's also important for you to know a number of smaller gestures you can make to convey loving feelings on a frequent basis. Little expressions of love and appreciation add up over time and can help ensure that your relationship will keep its special sparkle and glow.
Here are fifteen ways to say "I love you" that you can easily implement even during a busy work week:
1. Blow your spouse a kiss as you walk through the room. Smile, and let your eyes twinkle mischievously. You might remain silent, or you could say something such as, "Catch!" or "This is for you!"
2. Surprise your spouse by kissing the back of his (or her) neck as he sits in a low-backed chair that gives you easy access to his neck, such as a dining room chair or a computer chair. (For an extra reaction, you might lick his neck one or two strokes with your tongue after you kiss it)
3. Give her (or him) a brief neck and shoulder massage.
4. Leave a sweet message on his (or her) voice mail.
5. Send a short but sweet email. (Don't send your spouse a sexually explicit email at work. Save those for his or her personal email account.)
6. Write a one sentence note that describes a specific trait or quality that you love about your spouse, such as "I love your beautiful blue eyes that remind me of the sea." Or you could write, "I love your fabulous shoulder muscles that make you look so strong and sexy." Put this note in your spouse's purse, lunch, or brief case, or on his (or her) bed pillow.
7. Give your spouse a lingering, wet kiss, accompanied by a full body hug. (Many relationship gurus advocate that couples do this at least once every day.)
8. Hug your spouse and scratch her back at the same time. If you're lucky, your spouse will also scratch your back while you're scratching hers.
9. Give your spouse a compliment. Be specific, such as "You look great in that new pullover--I love how that color looks on you!"
10. Tell your spouse once specific thing you appreciate that he (or she) does. For example, you might say, "I really appreciate how hard you work to bring in extra income," or "You're a great dad--always so patient with the kids!"
11. When you're at the grocery store, pick up something special for your spouse--a favorite candy bar, a choice piece of fruit, a small plant, one long-stemmed rose, a special cheese, a festive balloon, etc. When you get home, say "I bought something special just for you because you're so special." Or wait until later and leave the item with an 'I love you" note for her (or him) to find.
12. Look for some little act or chore you can do for your spouse to make his (or her) life easier. For example, without asking, Lee will often empty the wastebasket in my office for me when he sees that it's full. Or I might offer to make a phone call for him to save him time on a busy day. These types of gestures say "I love you and want to show you that I care."
13. The next time that you have to buy a birthday card for someone, also buy five or six cards that your spouse would like. They might be romantic cards, thinking-of-you cards, or funny cards. Once every week or two, drop one in the mail to your spouse to arrive at the office or home, or leave a card in the car on the driver's seat or some other place for him (or her) to find.
14. When you get "take-home" food containers in a restaurant, later secretly take your spouse's container out of the refrigerator and decorate it. You might draw two hearts linked together with your names on the hearts and write "I love you" on her (or his) box.
15. Look for poems or song lyrics that you can give your spouse to communicate your loving feelings. Check out http://www.romantic-lyrics.com/ to find lyrics to beautiful love songs, love quotes, and romantic poems. You'll also find a great selection of love song lyrics at http://www.theromantic.com/lovesongs/main.htm .Just print out some of your favorites (use special paper to make it more special) and keep them back, ready to pull out and give your spouse with a note that says, "This expresses just how I feel about you."
About the Author
Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D., is co-author of Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says "I don't love you anymore!" This is available at www.KeepYourMarriage.com, where you can sign up for a free weekly marriage advice newsletter. Dr. Wasson offers telephone and email coaching to spouses who want to overcome marriage problems and create a rewarding, loving marriage.