71 Ways to Express Your Love When You’re Not Shakespeare

Everyone wants to hear that they are loved and admired. It’s love that inspired Journey’s “Faithfully” and Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” Love is at the center of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook.

“How do I love thee, let me count the ways,” wrote Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and then she went on to compose one of the most famous love notes of all time. But, what if you, being full of love for your spouse, are not a poet? What if you have all of the feelings, but not so many words? You do love and admire the person you married, but verbally expressing yourself has never been your strong suit. Well, you’re not alone.

Since I am a person that best receives love through words, as we discovered through The Five Love Languages, it’s not so hard for me to express love this way also. Tony, however, is more of an actions kind of guy. He tells me he loves me by making me coffee or giving the kids a bath in the evening or buying me a new pair of shoes. I’m a talker. He’s a doer. I’m a texter. He’s a hugger. I prefer a handwritten note over a gift. He definitely wants presents, preferably that new guitar pedal.

I’m not saying that his way of loving me is not enough. It is more than enough. Still, I’d like to hear something out of his mouth about it once in a while.

I Appreciate…

The best experience we’ve had to date in trying to express how and why we love each other was during one of the break out sessions at The Art and Science of Love Workshop hosted by The Gottman Institute. About mid-way through the first day, we were focusing on building up our feelings of fondness and admiration toward each other. According to their research, having high levels of affection and respect can combat relationship killers like criticism and contempt. Dr. John Gottman has said,

“Fondness and admiration are two of the most crucial elements in a rewarding and long lasting romance. Although happily married couples may feel driven to distraction at times by their partner’s personality flaws, they still feel that the person they married is worthy of honor and respect.”

71 Ways to Express Your Love When You're Not Shakespeare - #staymarriedWe were learning that it is not enough to feel these positive feelings toward each other, but that they must be nurtured and cultivated and expressed. We can’t expect our affection to last without tending to it. This is where the exercise came in. It’s called “I Appreciate…” and it comes with a list of 71 positive adjectives. The idea is to look over the list, choose three that describe your spouse, and share them with each other along with an example or short story of an actual incident that illustrates this characteristic about them.

The list was great because, even though I think Tony is pretty wonderful, I hadn’t thought of 71 ways he is wonderful on my own. Looking through these words reminded me of things I love about him that I’d probably never shared before. I know it did the same for him.

If you ever get a chance to attend The Art and Science of Love Workshop, definitely do it. But, even if you don’t, you could easily do this exercise together at home. I’ve even used the list to send Tony a text during the day. Instead of just saying, “I love you,” or “I’m thinking about you,” I was able to get more specific. I chose the one about parenting from the list and sent him this text…

71 Ways to Express Your Love When You're Not Shakespeare - #staymarried

Now, you try. Take a look at the list, use one or three or all of these words to think of new ways to tell your partner that you love them and why.
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71 Ways to Express Your Love When You're Not Shakespeare - #staymarried

You don’t have to be a Taylor Swift or Nicholas Sparks or even Shakespeare to find the right words to express yourself. You’ll do just fine to use any of these words along with a real life example to express your appreciation. Make sure you spend some time cultivating those loving feelings and sharing them with each other to #staymarried.

 The #staymarried blog was created to offer hope, stories, and resources for couples who want to stay married.

If you found this post helpful, we would be honored if you would share it. Our big dream is to see more and more people living in happy and healthy marriages!

Interested in more posts like this? You might like…
51 Little Ways to Build Your Marriage
The Art & Science of Love – 15 Favorite Moments from our Gottman Workshop Weekend
♥ Feed the Good Stuff – 10 Ways to Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration

Michelle Peterson #staymarriedIf you’re NEW HERE, check out our About Page and read a little more about my own background on our first post. You can also find us on the socials: PinterestTwitterFacebook, and Instagram. I’d love to connect on any of your favorite platforms.

Thank you ever so much for reading, sharing, and being a part of this #staymarried community!

~ Michelle



2 thoughts on “71 Ways to Express Your Love When You’re Not Shakespeare

  1. Michelle…this was truly a great article. From someone who almost got divorced I now understand the power of the 5 Love Languages you mentioned in the article. In fact, from that book I learned my wife is like your husband…she shows me her love by doing things. Cooking for me…bringing me gifts while she’s out somewhere or simply thinking of me when she’s doing something that doesn’t include me. The beauty of it however is she also tells me she loves me. As such, I’m extremely grateful. However… now I feel empowered because I can come to this article and brainstorm on what things I can say to my wife to make her realize how much I love her too with words. Thank you. Great find!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience from attending Dr. Gottman’s workshop. I often use his research and insights in the work I do with couples as a marriage therapist. It is definitely true that admiration is a foundation for marital joy and intimacy. Often couples become so narrowly focused on their problems that they lose sight of the person they married. Learning to see once again through eyes of admiration reawakens their marital friendship. I have translated Gottman’s ideas into what I call a culture of gratitude within marriage. I believe gratitude is key to many things in life, including a fuller joy, genuine peace, trust and even growth in holiness. Having a culture of gratitude in marriage is about continuously appreciating all that your spouse does for you, the marriage and the family. Like the 5 love languages indicates, it is also incredibly important to then communicate your gratitude to your spouse. It might be expressed differently, but thankfulness must be shared. It allows both husband and wife to feel appreciated, understood, and respected.

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