Do you feel like showering your lady with a little extra appreciation and affection? Well, assuming you’re dropping the four-letter-word enough—and, for the record, you definitely should be; “The vast majority of women really need to hear the words ‘I love you,’” says Elizabeth Babcock, LCSW, a therapist based in Pennsylvania—there are plenty of things you can do that are almost as effective.
From helping out more around the house to making more room for your in-laws, here are the ten greatest ways to demonstrate your love and keep passions riding high. And if you’re looking for more great lines she’ll always appreciate, don’t forget The 13 (Other) Sexiest Things You Can Say to a Woman.
Step away from the smartphone. “Give her your undivided attention,” recommends Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, a therapist based in New York City. “This doesn’t mean sitting on the couch watching television together, because in that case, Netflix has your attention not your partner. Turn the TV off, look at each other, and talk with all electronic devices put away,” she says. Take a walk, go out to eat, or just hang out on the couch and catch up. The activity you do doesn’t matter, but that fact that you’re giving her your all for part of the day does. If you need some extra help putting the smartphone away, here are 11 Easy ways to Conquer Your Smartphone Addiction.
Seriously. If you’re not the kind of guy who randomly thinks of fun little surprises for your partner and then actually remembers to do them (hey, you’re busy, we get it), set calendar reminders so you don’t forget. “Sure, it takes some of the spontaneity out of it, but that’s better than having life get in the way and not doing anything at all,” explains Michael Hilgers, M.MFT, a Licensed Professional Counselor based in Austin, Texas. “Let technology be your friend. Identify any meaningful specific dates over the next six months as well as four to six arbitrary dates,” he says. Then, assign an actionable item for each date, like grabbing fresh flowers, planning a fun date night, or getting her that purse she’s been eyeing for months. Set up the reminders on your phone, and when something pops up, do it. Easy, right? And speaking of checklists, don’t miss these 10 Pre-Marriage Solidifiers that All Savvy Couples Agree On.
“Ask her about how her day was and listen in an uninterrupted fashion and validate how she felt if they had something upsetting happen, rather than offering advice,” says Helen Odessky, PsyD, a Chicago-based psychologist and author of Stop Anxiety From Stopping You. Not sure what that means? If she says she had a bad day because her boss moved up a deadline unexpectedly, a validating statement would be something like, “It makes sense that you’re feeling stressed. Deadline changes are the worst.” What you shouldn’t say? “Why didn’t you push back? You’ve got to stick up for yourself.” While an advice-giving response might make more sense to you, sometimes you just need to be there to listen to and commiserate with your partner. “This is often the hardest thing for men, but if you can listen without jumping to fix, it’ll show her you really care,” adds Odessky. If you’re finding things harder than usual these days, here are the 10 Surefire Signs You Need Marriage Counseling.
Only when you’ve messed up, of course. But everyone makes mistakes. She will too. The key here is to learn how to do it effectively, and in a way that shows you respect and love her. “Learning how to sincerely apologize is a great way to say ‘I love you,’ and one that helps many couples decrease resentment and conflict,” explains Julienne Derichs, a licensed clinical professional counselor based in the Chicago area. The key components of a great apology? Expressing regret, taking responsibility, making amends, showing remorse, and asking for forgiveness. Turns out, saying something like: “I’m sorry. I feel I did that and I was wrong. Can you forgive me?” goes a really long way. Luckily for you, we’ve got a primer on How Smart Men Apologize.
Sometimes, you’ve just gotta suck it up and do what she wants. “She’s been wanting you to get a haircut, wear gingham, or get rid of your favorite sneakers because they smell,” says April Masini, a relationship and etiquette expert. Maybe you’ve resisted because you disagree, but if its something that’s not really that big of a deal to you, Masini says you should let it go. “Show her you love her by giving in and letting her win this one. Toss the smelly shoes, buy gingham and wear it with a smile, and cut your hair or shave your beard the way she likes. Whatever it is—show her she’s more important than you holding onto something way less important than she is, by giving up gracefully.” Also, be sure to read the 10 Secrets for Keeping Your Wife Happy.
We know, it’s obvious, but it really does work. “When I work with couples, I always explore the equity, or lack of it, with regard to housework,” says David Ezell, Clinical Director at Darien Wellness. Sometimes something as simple as taking out the trash or loading up the dishwasher after dinner can send a “we’re in this together” signal that is much-needed. Plus, that’s not the only benefit of taking part in chores. “Research shows men who help around the house report better and more frequent sex, and I have seen it in practice as well as in theory,” notes Ezell.
In-laws aren’t everyone’s favorite family members, but showing them some attention is a surefire way to let your partner know how you feel. “Taking the time and effort to deepen your relationship with the people who are important to her is a wonderful way to demonstrate that you love her,” says Megan Weks, a certified international dating and relationship expert. “She will feel a sense of security and inner knowing that you’re in this for life,” she adds. Call or email someone she loves to show you’re thinking about them, or simply just ask her a question about a family member you know she cares about. “For example, if her mother’s birthday is coming up, you can simply ask, ‘Are you thinking of anything special for your Mom’s birthday?’” suggests Weks. “She will feel grateful and loved.” Being nice to your mother-in-law is just one of our Fifty Best Ways to Be a (Much) Better Man.
One of the best ways to show your partner you love her is to let yourself be convinced by her occasionally—in a healthy way, of course. “Allowing her to influence you means finding a way to consider your significant other’s point of view as valid,” explains Derichs. Even if you think you’re right about something, try to be open-minded to her side of things. “Accepting influence happens when you are open to seeing an issue from the other person’s perspective and are able to consider how that person might feel about the situation. Accepting influence is finding a way to say ‘yes,’ ‘that makes sense,’ or ‘I’ve never thought about it that way before—let’s do it your way.’ ” Always being right is great, but having a happy partner is better.
You may feel like you know everything about your partner already, but chances are that isn’t really the case. “Losing curiosity about your partner is an easy way to find yourself in a relationship slump,” says Weks. “When you dig for hidden treasures that live deep inside of your partner’s memory bank, she will feel incredibly special,” she notes. If you’re wondering where to start, Weks says that “one great way to show curiosity is by asking detailed questions about her childhood that you might not know about yet.”
Sometimes, the best way to do something is the most obvious way. If you’re not sure what kinds of things make your significant other feel loved, just straight up ask her! Really. “You can think you are doing the best job ever at conveying love but if you are doing it in a way that your partner misses, it doesn’t matter,” says Hilgers. He’s right. “If you are great at sending flowers and cards but what your partner really responds well to is playing a board game after dinner, what matters is setting time aside for shared activities, no matter how lovely the flowers are.” Or maybe your partner really needs physical affection to feel loved, and she’s not getting enough of it. Instead, you’re picking up the dry cleaning every week without being asked, thinking you’re winning points and making her feel appreciated. “Gary Chapman’s book on The 5 Love Languages is a good simple way of exploring how different people express and receive love.” When in doubt, grab a copy and read up. Now, for more great relationship advice, here are The 7 Ways to Make Your Marriage Last Forever.
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