mature married couple

25 Ways to Say “I Love You” Without Saying a Word

25 Ways to Say “I Love You” Without Saying a Word

by  Winifred M. Reilly

mature married couple

Recently, on a cross-country flight, my husband and I were seated on opposite sides of the aisle. Several times, he leaned toward me to ask, “Would you like a bite of my sandwich?” “Can I get you some water?” Once he offered to share the last bite of his cookie. A while later, he reached over and put his hand my arm, just to say, “Hi.”

At the end of the flight the woman next to me said, “Your husband really loves you. I can tell.”

And she’s right. He does.

As couples, we express love through our everyday actions — our gestures of kindness, our generosity, our attention, our touch.

We say, “Drive safely.” “Take an umbrella.” We kiss each other goodnight.

And our spouse hears,”I love you,” in a way that touches more deeply than words.

We all have our favorite ways to show love. Here are some of mine:

1. Do the stuff neither of you wants to do. Someone has to call the plumber, resolve the mystery charge on the credit card, figure out what in the refrigerator is making that smell. Go ahead. Be the one.

2. Cut your partner some slack. We all forget things, lose things, or screw things up. Why rub it in?

3. Flirt. You’re never too old or married too long to make it clear that the two of you have still got it going on.

4. Be patient. Like it or not, sometimes you just have to wait. Skip the eye roll or foot tapping that says, what took you so long? Take a few deep breaths. Relax.

5. Pay attention. As in full-on and undivided. Not every minute of every day, but show up when it counts.

6. Clean up, above and beyond the call of duty. Not your dirty cup? Who cares?

Keep two feet in, especially when things are difficult. Commitment is about staying with your challenges long enough to make things better.

8. Let down your guard. Vulnerability and intimacy are one and the same.


9. Receive and acknowledge your partner’s acts of love. The happiest couples are those who notice and respond when their partner reaches out. A thanks or a smile is all that it takes.

10. Stop a fight in its tracks. One of the most loving things you can do is stay calm when your spouse is getting worked-up.

11. Look for the humor in those less-than-endearing behaviors. What’s not to love about someone who second guesses the GPS?

12. Leave enough gas in the car, enough hot water for a shower, enough milk for coffee.

13. Make dinner. You don’t have to be Julia Child. Simple is fine. Just give it your best shot.

14. Hug back. Kiss back. Smile.

15. Give your partner some space. Space to watch the ballgame in peace. Space to go for a run, call a friend, or curl up with a book.

16. Be willing to sleep with the window open a little more than you like.


17. Be willing to sleep with the window closed a little more than you like.

18. Stay in touch. You’re busy. I’m busy. No one is too busy to text xoxo.

19. Your spouse wants to go back to graduate school, eat more fruits and vegetables, train for a marathon. Your response: that’s great!

20. Be the first one to reach out after a fight. Don’t think for a minute that the first person to give ground is admitting fault. Marriage isn’t a game of chicken. It takes courage and kindness to yield.

21. Choose — at least once in a while — not to elbow your snoring spouse. Chances are you’ll eventually snore, too.

22. Make your relationship a priority. Marriage doesn’t stay sweet all on its own, year after year. Have a date night, a weekend getaway, keep work hours within bounds. And for goodness sake, when you’re together, turn off your phone.

23. Think your spouse deserves a standing ovation? Tell someone how talented, smart, loving, gracious she is. How patient he is with the kids. How he makes the world’s best pie crust. Make sure he overhears you.

24. Do what it takes to stay healthy and sane.

25. Keep in mind that life is short. Don’t waste time holding grudges or focusing on petty upsets that, in the big picture, mean nothing. Focus, instead, on the ways that your marriage is loving and good.


Know someone who would like this post? Please share!

Winifred M. Reilly M.A., MFTWinifred M. Reilly, MA, MFT, is a psychotherapist specializing in marital therapy and relationship issues, with a private practice in Berkeley, Calif. She is the author of the relationship advice blog Speaking of Marriage and a forthcoming book that explains why relationships are so predictably frustrating and difficult and shows what couples can do besides fight, give up or drive each other crazy.


  1. Reblogged this on Barb Taub and commented:
    Thank you to Rosie Amber for sharing this wonderful post that reminds us that there are so many other ways to say “I love you”.
    Before we got married, my husband-to-be and I stopped for groceries near my California apartment. Next to my miniscule Ford, a gigantic Rolls pulled in slowly and parked. A stooped elderly man got out and carefully handed down his tiny wife. They slowly made their way into the store, bickering nonstop. Completely enchanted, we followed them around the store, as they pushed their cart together, pressed shoulder to shoulder, and arguing the entire way. But we also saw her stopping to search through the entire freezer section for the ice cream he liked, saw him approach a clerk for help finding her favorite tea, saw her slip a bottle of “that wine you like” into the cart even while grumbling about what his doctor would say, and saw him pick up a bouquet of roses just before they reached the cashier—despite her complaints about extravagance (waving a hand covered in jewelled rings). They went back to their car, still bickering the entire way, and he carefully positioned her back in her seat, pulled out her seatbelt for her, and closed her door. When he opened his door, her voice drifted out, complaining about where he’d left their shopping cart.
    We were just planning our own wedding, but even then we told each other that someday we wanted to be that couple. After decades they still had plenty to complain about, but plenty of ways to say “I love you”. It’s been more than thirty-five years for us. Hmmm… maybe it’s time to go grocery shopping.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderful advice and instruction. My wife has put with me for 29 years and we have probably done several of these things, but could always do more of them and more frequently. Thanks. Can you share these with every minister, rabbi, priest, imam and justice of the peace who marries people and tell them to say I will not marry you until you read these.

    Liked by 1 person

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