At Guy Stuff we work with couples facing a wide variety of problems. Love fading or being gone all together, and falling out of love are big ones for many couples in long-term relationships. In fact, there are many couples who, after years together, completely forget to express love toward one another at all. A frequent complaint for wives in particular is that their husband never says, “I love you.”
A wife I've been working with in marriage counseling for men told me yesterday that last week her husband asked her for a hug for the first time in their 15 year marriage. She said over the years she had come to accept the lack of affection even though she wasn’t happy about it, but it was just how things were. When he hugged her it made her realize that not only had that level of affection been missing, but that her husband had also never said, “I love you” in nearly 15 years as well.
Can you relate to this wife?
- He is a very nice guy, supporting us, including paying my costs because l do not work in order to heed immigration laws.
- But there is one thing that has bothered me throughout our years of marriage: He finds it difficult to tell me he loves me. He does everything right, except this.
- Even now, at the end of our phone conversations, he never tells me he misses me or loves me. But when he phones the children, particularly the youngest, he tells them he loves them and misses them.
- How do l overcome this? I used to tell him that l love him, but I stopped.
Here's the advice she got from Psychology Today:
- Actions speak loudly, and your husband's actions suggest that he cares deeply about you and your children.
- Not everyone is equally comfortable declaring "I love you,"and it may be especially hard for someone to declare it to a telephone. He demonstrates his love.
- Many people grow up in families and in cultures where an unwritten rule seems to be that the adults-and especially men-don't openly declare their feelings for even display affection openly. And yet with children, they may be entirely different.
- Just because he can't say what you'd like to hear doesn't mean you should withhold what comes naturally to you. This is one area where reciprocity doesn't work. When you start measuring what you give you start constricting feelings, and that actually becomes corrosive to your own sense of self and to the relationship.
- Just because your husband can't say "I love you" doesn't mean he doesn't want to hear it from you, especially when he is giving you so much.
I disagree with the part of the Psychology Today response that says that this husband "can't" say "I love you.” I would change that to he's not comfortable, he doesn't know how, or just that he hasn’t said "I love you" – yet. I do counseling with men that this describes, but they can and do develop the ability to say "I love you" and turn it into a habit with the right help.
Why Is Saying “I Love You” Important? They’re Just Words.
Yes, “I love you” is just words, but they’re powerful words. Some people would claim that they don’t need to say it because they make a habit of showing it. I would say you need to do both.
A relationship takes work and effort. Too often we fall into routines and just assume that our partner knows how we feel. And then, as years go by we accept the lack of attention we give our partner, or receive from our partner, as normal – much like the couple I mentioned above.
But saying “I love you” to your partner or spouse should remind both of you that there’s more to your relationship than getting through the day-to-day. It helps to maintain the bond you’ve created and reinforces your connection to each other.
Is There A Right Way To Say “I Love You?”
Yes, there is. The words “I love you” have to go along with the actions that show they’re true. Simply throwing the words, “I love you” out there from time to time isn’t enough. The good news is that those actions can be as simple as the hug the husband described above to gave to his wife – even if it was far, far overdue.
The bottom line is that love is not just a feeling, it's a choice and an action, and one that is learned with and reinforced by practice. When a husband never says “I love you” to his wife it chips away at their relationship and leaves them vulnerable to much bigger problems. Wives, this goes for you too.
What part of this can you relate to?
Editor's Note: This post was originally published March 27, 2010. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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