I love you. You hear it a lot, right? Or maybe you don't?
Love stories are everywhere; in the movies, in the music we listen to, in magazines we read. The list goes on and on. But how many times do you hear the words 'I love you' in your own relationship, and when and how are they said?
Going one step further, when does these three little words stop having a big impact? If you use them a lot, then it can become lost in translation. If you use them too infrequently, you might not really mean them.
Your partner is human, just like everyone else. Their perception of these three little words may be different to yours. The meaning and impact may change over time during the course of a relationship or in any given situation.
So to help you change your relationship, spice it up and offer you some creativity in connecting with your loved one, here is an Ultimate Guide To Connecting With Your Life Partner with 10 Things To Say To Your Partner Instead Of 'I Love You'.
#1 'I hear you.'
Working as a couples counsellor in Vancouver, I often encounter the complaint that at least one partner feels they are not being heard or listened to. This can be a frustrating, unhappy and painful feeling, generating a sense of loneliness and loss.
One of the most connecting and hear warming things you can do in any relationship is listen (and I mean really listen) when your partner is speaking and particularly when they are sharing something important to them or vulnerable for them.
Really listening means hearing every word and not reacting with anger, upset, apathy, defensiveness or criticism. It means empathizing, understanding, inquiring how it must feel and offering support without attempting to solve.
#2 'I understand you.'
Understanding simply means putting yourself in our partner’s shoes. Can you feel what they are feeling and get in touch with what that experience must be like for them? If you struggle with understanding your significant other, think about how you would feel in a similar situation.
In relationship counselling, one of the biggest skills a couple can learn is the art of understanding and sitting with someone in their hour of need, without wishing to fix them. Understanding goes a long, long way.
#3 'I'm here for you.'
After understanding comes the simple pledge; I'm here for you. The key to this pledge is that your partner gets to decide how you can be here for them.
What does being present for your partner look like? What would they wish for in your presence? What does sharing feel like for them and how do they need you to be?
These are great questions to ask both yourself and your partner when exploring what being here for each other really means.
#4 'How can I truly help you?'
This is simply an extension and deeper exploration of 'I'm here for you'.
By being truly helpful to your partner, it might mean you are more present, more open, more honest, more caring or more positive.
Discussing with your partner about how you can truly help goes a long way to breaking down defenses, fears and walls.
#5 'I fully respect your feelings.'
This is a blue chip rule that you should ALWAYS adhere to. If you don't respect your partner’s feelings, then why are you together?
Just as your feelings are vitally important, then so are theirs. By making this declaration and commitment to your partner and their feelings, then you become more listened to, more respected and more loved.
How your partner feels is OK, no matter what it is. You might not agree with how they feel as you may feel different to any given circumstance, BUT when dealing with their feelings remember that it's their experience they are feeling, not your own.
Disagreeing has no place here. Accepting what is being felt does.
#6 'I think you're incredible.'
If you've made it this far, then you've earned your stripes! Now you are in glorious relationship territory.
By telling your partner they are incredible means you recognize them and their accomplishments. You are also only telling them the truth because the fact of the matter is, we are all incredible in our own unique ways - we just have to see this and celebrate our awesomeness!
#7. 'I'm really proud of you.'
Pride in somebody, especially your most intimate relationship partner, is a powerful expression.
To be proud of your partner is to recognize their struggle, their journey and their goals in life. It’s supporting them as an individual, and not just part of a couple.
When working as a couple’s therapist in Vancouver, I encourage each partner in any couple to take responsibility for their half of the relationship, and that includes supporting the interdependence of their loved one.
Being proud of your partner shows them you love them. Just as importantly, it shows them you see them.
#8 'I admire you.'
Admiration of another is something that feels good for you and good for your partner. Being specific about what you admire in your partner is a great way of showing you are hearing, seeing and recognizing them, and more importantly, their qualities.
Admiring your partner really shows you are paying attention to him or her. By paying attention to those details in your intimate relationship, then you become instantly more attractive!
#9 'You inspire me.'
A great question to ask yourself here is 'Why does my partner inspire me?' Perhaps even write down what it is your partner does that makes you want to be better or try something new.
Maybe taking up something new that supports or compliments your partner shows you are being inspired by them, and also gives you fresh impetus and direction in your own life.
For instance, if your partner is active and has a lot of energy, inspiration could mean you taking up a sport or exercise so that you can be more active with your partner. It could result in you getting healthier, livelier and less stressed yourself.
#10 'We're in this together.'
There's simply nothing stronger than team work. When you feel your partner has your back and you have theirs, not matter what life throws at you, then telling your partner you are in this with them solidifies commitment, shows love and offers unyielding support. It’s like an emotional booster pill!
Thank you for reading.
Matt is a couple’s counsellor and relationship coach based in Vancouver, BC where he helps ease and heal couples relationship pain.
To book an appointment today, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Matt on 604.307.6050 now.