Monday, February 3, 2014

14 Ways to Communicate Love

We all have our love language(s), so finding a set of gestures that would communicate love universally probably isn't possible. For me, flowers, jewelry, or lavish gifts in February don't especially make me feel loved. (If your significant other's love language includes those things, then go with those too.) However, most of these are everyday actions that clearly communicate love.

For simplicity's sake, I'm going to use he or him when talking about a significant other, simply because mine is in fact male. I don't really want to write, and I doubt you'd want to read, he/she and her/him throughout the entire post. Just know this was an acknowledged choice and the concepts here definitely apply to both women and men. No sexism here, people. Please substitute the appropriate personal pronoun for your situation.

1. Encourage and support him.
Whether written, oral, or even only action-based, provide support for the person you love in his endeavors. Leave encouraging notes in his backpack or briefcase. Cheer him on. Take a responsibility off his plate to allow him to pursue his goals.

2. Be silly and spontaneous together.
My husband excels at this one. He smacks my butt in public. He says awkward or funny things loudly in the store to make me laugh. Keep the giddy feeling alive by keeping it light and silly.

3. Participate in activities he likes.
Even if you don't like doing the things he does (e.g., playing video games) and don't do it with him often, he will likely appreciate your taking the time at least every once in a while and will likely do the same for you.

4. Compliment him.
Especially for situations when you know he wants to do well or has worked hard to accomplish a goal, acknowledge his efforts, the positive aspects of what he did, and the qualities you love about him.

5. Show affection in public as well as in private.
Hold hands and cuddle, even if you've been married "a long time" or if you feel you're far too old for PDA. Please, on behalf of the people around you, don't be disgusting, but at least show that you know and like each other.

6. Give your time.
The word love is really spelled T-I-M-E. Play games, make memories, do service together, do things together, so that when you look back on your life, you remember his integral role in it.

7. Be able to agree to disagree on the small stuff and let it go.
Chances are two separate people with individual minds will not have the exact same opinion about everything. After nearly seven years of marriage, my husband and I agree on big, important issues, but we know what areas we don't. Learn to be okay with those differences.

8. Spend time in the small talk.
Asking about and listening to the specifics of his day and sharing little funny stories that happen in yours make a huge difference.

9. Say "I love you" at least once a day.
For some this may seem obvious, and for others this may be a challenge, but it never hurt anyone to say or hear it more often.

10. Let your actions speak for you.
Although a seeming contradiction of #9, words alone do not communicate love. Perform acts of service for each other, especially meaningful service. Your words and your actions should complement each other in expressing love.

11. Resist the urge to criticize him.
The person you love is imperfect. But so are you. When you are tempted to pick at his faults, put yourself in his shoes. Would you like to be given a laundry list of things to fix about yourself? Especially by the person who claims to love you most? Focus on the amazing things you see in him, the things that made you fall in love with him in the first place.

12. When things in life go wrong, turn to each other.
Talk out problems together, even problems between the two of you, and work toward a solution together. If the two of you need help, seek the appropriate help, but always turn to each other first to show that you trust each other.

13. Take care of yourself and work on improving yourself.
No doubt he loves you how you are already, as he should. However, making an effort to take care of your body and strengthening your own talents and characteristics show your confidence and desire to be a strong partner in the relationship yoke. How does that communicate love? It suggests that you care enough about your relationship with him to contribute give the best of yourself to your life together. A simpler reason: if you don't love yourself, you won't have much to share with someone else.

14. Give meaningful gifts.
Although gifts don't usually do it for me, Tracy has surprised me with significant gestures: not significant in monetary value but significant personally. When he gives me a book I said I wanted to read, I feel he knows me. When he gets tickets to a play I said I was interested in seeing, I know he listens. Gifts can communicate love, if they are significant for him personally.

My husband and I are still working on these items, but that's the beautiful thing about this list and about love in general. We've got time to get better at it. Day after day, year after year.