Years ago, a friend of mine was trying to figure out what to get his wife for her birthday.
She had recently spent hours upon hours in the crawl space of their house trying to tidy up and her knees had taken a pounding. As he wrestled with what to get her for a present, he found himself at a hardware store for an unrelated reason … and a bit of inspiration struck him.
When it came time for his wife to open his birthday gift, my friend thought, “She is gonna love this!” Inside the box was a package of kneepads. While she appreciated the practical nature of the gift, it did not say, “I love you!”
While it was not the end of the world, it was a learning opportunity. We too can learn from his experience and apply it to our own marriages. Here are 5 things that you may think say “I love you,” but don’t:
1. Buying a gift for your spouse without taking the time to find out their likes and dislikes. The first and most basic step in giving a gift to your spouse is to become familiar with their likes and dislikes. You can obtain that crucial information not only by asking questions, but also by being observant. Be on the lookout for what your spouse responds to—good and bad—and then ask why.
2. Buying a gift for your spouse that is more for you than for them. Getting golf clubs for your wife is a fantastic idea … if she actually likes golf. However, if she has never been golfing or shown an interest in doing so, this gift is really for you, not her.
Marketing professionals have to remind themselves all the time that the ads they create should appeal to the audience they are trying to reach, not to themselves. The same is true for gifts for your spouse.
3. Saying “I love you” to your spouse, but only on special occasions. There’s a joke about a wife who complains that her husband has failed to say, “I love you” for years. To which he replies, with exasperation, “I told you ‘I love you’ at the altar and if anything changes, I’ll let you know!”
Funny, but often too true. “I love you” is one of those phrases that cannot be said enough; so don’t save it for a special occasion. [Tweet This] Say it daily!
4. Showing interest in your spouse, but only sexually. It is important to let your spouse know that you find them physically desirable. However, if that is the only time or only reason you show an interest in them, you’re really communicating “I want something from you,” not “I love you.”
Let your spouse know that you are interested in their well-being, companionship, thoughts, ideas and sense of humor—the whole person.
5. Doing activities that your spouse enjoys, but complaining the whole time. You may think you’re being a supportive, loving spouse by “enduring” an activity that your spouse wants to do. However, if you spend the entire time with a negative attitude or speaking negative words, your support is just a facade. Only genuine participation will communicate love to your spouse.
In the past, what were some things you thought said, “I love you,” but didn’t?
Mark Merrill is the president of Family First. For the original article, visit markmerrill.com.