When we first started dating, Erich and I were lovey-dovey, sappy, and rom-com worthy. He walked me everywhere, picked flowers to put in my hair while whispering dorky nothings, and left me the cutest love notes. My favorite: “Dear Bailey, I like you a lot. From, Erich.” (The from gets me every time.) I wrote him love letters when we were apart and listed 5 “Reese-sons” I loved him on the back of a Reese’s pack. (He just ate the Reese’s a couple weeks okay. Flowers wilt. Preservatives last forever. Buy candy.)
Now we’re old and lethargic and can’t think of cute things to say because we exhausted them all three months into dating. We tend to walk around saying, “I love you!” at various decibels: “I love you.” “I LOVE YOU!” “I love youuuuuu.” These are the top three words in our household, and they convey everything from, “I’m hungry” to “I’m bored” to “I’m sleepy; let’s cuddle,” depending on our inflections.
But when we got married, I noticed we rarely said those words at the end of the night or before getting up — the good night and good morning kiss — the kiss every successfully married couple employs. So I instituted love habits — things we train ourselves to do to show love even when we aren’t feeling loving, hungry, bored, or sleepy.
Our most followed love habit is kissing each other good night and good morning. The second is giving each other our full attention when the other person is speaking. We’re both lost in our own worlds, I about justice, theology, and emotions, he about rocks, video games, and Hamilton lyrics, so when I start talking about my emotions, he’s still thinking about the Immortals’ loss to TSM (League of Legends, anyone?). We’re not tracking. I’m the worst at this. I’ll say, “Uh huh,” maybe even ask a question, but all I hear are syllables and technical terms I don’t know. Once he stops talking, I’ll look up and say, “Wait, what? Can you start over?” And the process repeats itself until I say, “That’s awesome!” and fake, to both of us, that I was listening.
I’ve had this problem since I was a kid.
With our “love habit talk,” we made focusing on each other’s words a priority. Now, whenever the other person opens his or her mouth, the other stops, looks at the talking spouse, fully engages with what that person is saying, and then we drift back into our separate worlds. And a few minutes later, somebody shouts, “I LOVE YOU.”
These are our two love habits that we actually keep. Do you have any love habits that stuck with you and your SO?