I remember the moment vividly when I first told my now husband “I love you.” It was quite early in the relationship (one week), and I told him first (ah, young love). The words were surprisingly effortless to say, but with saying them for the first time in my life came the weight of my entire heart. Hearing them back was even more momentous, and from three words, eight letters and courage, a lifelong commitment was born. Then love and marriage changed everything.
The feeling I had for him in that moment never waned, but our acts of love through the days and years made those three little words almost superfluous.
One of the most important marriage lessons I have learned is that more powerful expressions of love do exist, and they can enrich your relationship and improve your overall dynamic as a team. These seven romantic sentences could open both of your hearts to a new level of devotion:
1. Thank you for all you do for us
Appreciation goes the distance in long-term relationships, and we’re all guilty of forgetting to give it sometimes. Make your partner feel acknowledged for all they do to keep your family unit strong; it leaves them feeling both loved and needed.
2. I fall more in love with you every day
Staying in love and maintaining a relationship is a daily effort and doesn’t end at “I love you.” Subtly reminding your partner that you are still in love with them signals that they are desired and that the chemistry between you two is thriving.
3. Let’s go away somewhere, just the two of us
Letting your partner know you want private, distraction-free time with them (away from Netflix, football matches and in-laws) can be the greatest form of flattery. Recognizing that your partner may need “pause” from life’s daily grind will make them feel you are attentive to their emotional needs.
4. You keep my heart young
This one may catch them by surprise, but it’s worth saying. No matter how fast time is flying or how deep the daily stresses of life irk you both, declaring that the love you share is enough to keep your heart feeling light despite it all is the supreme compliment.
5. Every moment with you is precious to me
Between careers, smartphones, emails and raising children, it’s easy for your partner to feel in second or even third place. Express to them that you cherish both the private and not-so-private moments in life. This serves as a reminder to never take a single moment for granted.
6. Go spend some time with the guys — you deserve it
Encourage your partner to go out with their friends, let go and have a great time. Let your partner know that you trust and respect them as an individual outside of your relationship. Individuality is important to support and celebrate, no matter how many commitments are waiting at home.
More: 12 Things successful couples do to make their relationships last
7. I’m proud to be your other half
Moments of insecurity often come up in relationships. Let them know that despite all the hardships of life, you wouldn’t want to experience the crazy, wild and beautiful journey with anyone else. These seven words have the unique ability to bring you closer to each other.
What is more necessary than “I love you” is to give and receive acknowledgment for the little things each of you do daily to keep your relationship strong. To deepen your connection and find the right words, creating a radar for what he or she needs, whether it’s a self-esteem boost or space, this says “I love you” on a whole new level.