Have you ever wondered what you could do every day to keep the love and passion alive in your relationship? You don’t need to buy him or her gifts or give them a foot rub every morning. (Although they would probably like that, too.)
You do, however, need to pay attention to the words coming out of your mouth. The way you speak to your partner will either bring you closer together, or it will create distance and discord in your relationship.
Relationship coaches Casey and Meygan Caston told me, “I think we often underestimate the power that words have in our marriage. It’s amazing what a simple compliment can do to lighten the mood and grow love. Once we get married, we often assume our spouse knows how much we love them, but it’s important to create a daily habit of expressing our gratitude and affection to them.”
But what types of things are the most important to say to your partner everyday? I asked the experts and learned what couples can say to each other to keep the love and connection strong.
I love you
Unsurprisingly, many of the relationship experts suggested saying “I love you” to your partner every day. Dr. Alisa Ruby Bash, Psy.D., LMFT emphasized the importance of sharing love on a daily basis, telling me, “To keep the spark and the romance alive in a marriage, you need to make each other feel like a romantic partner, every day. Making your partner feel loved, valued, respected, and adored is so important.”
Lesli Doares, founder of Foundations Coaching and host of Happily Ever After Is Just the Beginning, advocates for sharing your love in your partner’s love language. The Love Languages book by Gary Chapman describes five love languages: acts of service, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Doares suggests that you find out how your partner wants to receive love and be sure to give it to them that way. She told me, “When you speak in their love language, they can really ‘hear’ you and feel that they matter.”
If you want to make your partner feel especially loved, go beyond just saying the words “I love you.” The Castons told me about their powerful practice for sharing love with one other. “One of the turning points in our relationship was when we learned to leverage the power of speaking words of encouragement over each other. We call it the 60 Second Blessing, and here’s how it works: You begin by speaking 60 seconds of encouragement, appreciation, and love to your spouse. Once you’re finished, your spouse spends the next 60 seconds sharing what they love about you.”
Here’s why I love you
Take “I love you” a bit further and tell your partner why you love him or her. That will show them that you’re not just saying “I love you,” but that you’ve put a lot of thought into why he matters so much to you.
According to Jessica Elizabeth Opert, love and relationship coach, “Saying ‘I love you’ is important. However, it can become a meaningless salutation over time. Push your boat out and give your partner one reason you love them every day. This reminds us why we love them so much and lets your partner know you see them, you appreciate them.”
But don’t just tell your partner the same reasons every day — mix it up a little. Opert suggests creating a list of reasons you love your partner, and then picking a few from the list each day. “Keep a daily journal of what your partner does every day that makes you remember why you love them so much. Once you have a healthy list to work with, start vocalising them.”
When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, both of you naturally take on certain tasks. He washes the dishes while you get the kids ready for bed. He takes the trash out and you sweep the floors. It’s all too easy to take your partner for granted and for them to do the same to you. That’s why it’s so critical to say “thank you” on a daily basis.
Nicole Prause, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and founder of Liberos LLC, advocates “appreciating something your partner has done every day with specific behaviors and your emotional response. For example, ‘It is so nice that you finished the dishes. I felt very appreciated.’ ‘Your goofy voices are so nice at the end of the day. Very amusing.'”
If you want to make sure your partner keeps doing the things you love, like making you dinner or helping you organize the garage, “thank you” can go a long way. Prause continued, “The high specificity of picking a behavior that just happened can help make clear appreciation for what the partner is actually doing… and encourage the behavior in the future!”
Kimberly Hershenson, a New York therapist who specializes in relationships, agrees: “Each partner should find one thing they are grateful for each day about his or her partner and share it with them. Whether it’s gratitude for working hard, cleaning up the house, or taking care of the children, complimenting your loved one leads to increased positivity in the relationship.”
You are amazing
Dr. Patricia O’Gorman, a New York State psychologist, told me, “What I recommend that couples say daily to each other is anything that focuses on seeing your partner in the way your partner wants to be seen … at his or her best.”
While self-esteem comes from within, it doesn’t hurt to have your partner tell you how great you are from time to time. When my husband shares appreciation for an article I write or a batch of cookies I bake, it makes me feel closer to him, because I know that he’s paying attention to me and noticing the things I do.
Opert agrees, adding, “It is not your job to be their sole fountain of self worth. However, we can add and detract from people’s self image and self-esteem. Relationships are about contribution. People who are feeling better about themselves individually make for better partners.”
You may feel proud of your partner for his promotion at work, for his ability to make your mom laugh, or even for his incredible video gaming skills. But he won’t know unless you tell him. So make sure to share how amazing you think he is.
You are sexy
Who doesn’t love being told they’re sexy? Even though I know my husband is attracted to me, when he tells me I’m looking good, it brings an extra bounce to my step and a smile to my face.
The Castons told me, “Hollywood and social media send us messages telling us that we’re not enough. We’re not thin enough, tall enough, blonde enough, fit enough, and healthy enough. So be sure to take the time to tell your spouse how attractive they are, and be specific!”
Do you like your partner’s beautiful eyes? His gorgeous smile? His nice butt? Let him know.
Evan Money, Ph.D., agreed. He added, “Men need to be reminded that women are bombarded with hundreds of messages every day that tell her she isn’t pretty enough, thin enough, sexy enough, etc. The only person to counteract this is their mate. For men, it’s a huge ego stroke that we need but will never ask for.”
Money and his wife, Susan, get re-married every single year in a different place. They clearly know how to keep the passion alive.
How can I help you?
Would you think I’m weird if I told you I get turned on by watching my husband do the dishes? When he offers to help me, it strengthens our relationship because I know I am supported. Even if you’re tired after a long day, take time to see how you can support your partner.
The Castons recommended checking in with your partner on a daily basis. “If you really want to earn bonus points with your partner, ask them how you can help each day and then be sure to follow through. Helping your spouse with daily responsibilities or even being a safe person to vent to builds security and trust in the relationship.”
Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, founder and chief relationship advisor at Your Sage, adds, “In a world where you feel stretched to the max, it is great to feel the support of your partner. Those five words (‘What can I do to help?’) show values of empathy and collaboration in the relationship and can wipe away any resentment that is building.”
How are you doing?
Have you ever gotten into a fight with your partner that seems to come out of nowhere? It’s happened to me many times. My husband and I are walking our dog, talking about dinner, and suddenly, we’re fighting. This usually happens because we haven’t taken the time to listen to each other and find out what’s going on under the surface.
But when we stop and pay attention, act with compassion, and ask, “What is going on with you? How are you?” it opens up a channel of communication and connection between us. Instead of fighting, we deepen our relationship.
On Marriage Today, Jimmy Evans wrote, “When we are willing to listen to the voices and hearts of our family members, we can deal with the issues that would otherwise tear us apart. Not to listen is to build resentment, but careful, honest listening brings healing.”
When you take time to listen to your partner, you can be there for him when he needs you the most. The Castons emphasized the importance of sticking together when things get hard: “Couples are stronger together than apart, and because no life is free from trouble, when we go through difficult times together, we can support and help each other to press on when the going gets tough. Life is so much sweeter when you know your spouse has your back!”
Be intentional with your words
The power of words works both ways. And it can be far too easy to find faults with your partner rather than noticing the positives. That’s why it’s so important to be intentional about how you speak to each other.
Money put it like this: “Thriving relationships are built on the foundation of being intentional. You don’t accidentally have a great long-term relationship, you have to be intentional every day with the words you speak. Otherwise you end up like everyone else, married and miserable or divorced and desperate.”
Doares took it a step further and suggested that you say three to five positive statements for every negative one. She added, “A person needs to take a deep breath if they are angry or upset before they open their mouth. Your relationship is in danger long before you hit the 50/50 of positive to negative Interactions.”
While loving words will bring you closer to your partner, criticism has the opposite effect. Audrey Hope, a celebrity relationship expert, shared the dangers of criticism with me. “Criticism is a deadly weapon, so the opposite of this energy is nurturing positive energy. Be mindful of criticism and harsh words. Never ever put your mate down, even when angry.”
How to remember to say loving things to your partner
I know how hard it can be to actively remember to say loving things to your partner every day, so I asked the experts if they had any suggestions.
Hershenson recommended checking in with your partner at night. “You can make it a nightly ritual to say these things at dinner every night or before bed. Take time out of your day to make the emotional connection a habit,” she said.
Dr. Bash agreed with the idea of a nightly ritual. “Set a time of the day, perhaps at the end of the evening, to really connect and communicate.” she said. “This will keep the romance alive in the long haul.”
The Castons use their phones to help them remember to say (or text) loving things to each other throughout the day. “Since we all live such busy lives, we set reminders on our phone throughout the day to text each other these positive words. And if it’s not a text, it’s an in-person compliment. “
Opert weighed in with another great idea: “Align it with other daily habits you already have. Do you two brush your teeth together every night? Do it then! Do you have a weekly dinner date, just the two of you? Start with that.”
Forge an unbreakable bond
Your words have tremendous power — especially when it comes to how you speak to your partner.
They can create a rift between you or they can forge an unbreakable bond. When you’re conscious of how you speak to your partner, you can take action every day to strengthen your relationship.
Milrad told me, “When you become mindful about the positive ways that you can engage your partner every day, you are not only bringing your highest self to the relationship, but you are bringing out the best in your partner.”
Loving words will help you get closer to your partner — and they’ll help you both be the best partners possible.