Expressions of Love

Showing you care for your loved one and appreciate what they do is vital! This may seem self evident but the lack of this is one of the first signs of an ailing relationship.  For those who want to keep their relationship alive and growing, make sure you cultivate the ability to communicate your care. This builds what John Gottman calls an “emotional bank account”. Strong relationships have healthy balances!

For those who come to me for couples therapy, one thing I have them do is make a list of ten things that their partners could do that would make them feel cared about.  The list can have things that cost money that shouldn’t be dominant. After making sure they are positive  and specific (forget the “don’t do’s), I have them exchange the lists and start doing at least one of them a day.

What makes us feel cared about is highly individual. What you like to receive might not do it for me. However, some things are fairly universal

  • Saying “I love you”
  • Giving hugs and kisses
  • Remembering special days
  • Asking about your day –

just to name a few. Giving a massage might be on my list but not on yours!

Some people are more comfortable than others with verbal expressions of caring. Sometimes, they are stronger on actions that show they care. It’s important to be accepting of people’s differences and not try to make them over. However, it is always important to show caring with both verbal and behavioral expressions. There is something about hearing it that we humans all need! And I’m sure everyone has known people who verbally express it but their behavior shows inconsideration or even abuse.

Loving someone means that their happiness is important to you. Encouraging what makes them happy will ultimately make you happy too! The synergy that develops between two people who actively express their love is magnificent!

So why do couples lose this? Negativity, lack of tolerance and acceptance, criticism, and resentment can all diminish the willingness to express caring, leading to less and less good will. The emotional bank account dwindles over time.

Couples can also take one another for granted. They may assume they don’t have to show they care after being married or committed for some time.  Examples are:

  • “He knows I care”,
  •  “She shouldn’t need me to show it”
  • “I bring home the bacon; isn’t that enough?”

People may not have seen it modeled in their families. Just remember, there is A LOT we do that our families of origin never did – we have new knowledge, new inventions, new medical advances. So be open to learning more about what will keep your relationship healthy and growing! A wise person once said to me “if you’re relationship isn’t growing, it’s dying.” There is a lot of truth to that!




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