As a family man with 2 kids, I’m constantly looking for possibilities to improve my family life and one question I’ve always had on my mind is; How can I show my family that I love them? I found 1001 possibilities for demonstrating it but by far the most efficient, elegant and direct way seemed to be simply to say; “I love you”. So I decided to test the theory and I shaped a new habit and repeatedly told my wife and kids, many times throughout the day, that I loved them, hoping that this statement, repeated with frequency, would have a huge, positive impact on our family life. That was the theory anyway! Soon I realized that the “I love you” phrase became like the “thank you” phrase. The “thank you” phrase is necessary for polite interaction but it’s mostly noticed when it’s missing. In other words, if it’s expected from me that I say “thank you” and I don’t say it, that’s where it’s missed and actually becomes a negative.
Since the “I love you” phrase has become over-used and abused by the advertisers (at least in the English language), saying it repeatedly to my family members had little or no impact. So I started doubting whether saying “I love you” was really improving my family life. As it wasn’t having the desired effect, should I drop it and reduce the amount of “I love yous” in my daily life? But then, what if my family perceived it as a sudden drop in the level of my love or caring for them, especially my young children? This led me to thinking that getting rid of it wasn’t an option. So what was next? Should I then double or triple my efforts by leaving notes or even calling (my wife) with my “I love you” phrase? These questions gave me headaches for some time during which I stuck with my new, what I believed to be positive, habit.
…And then, I found the solution which had always been right in from of me. It is not always important what or how often we say something but HOW it is said! I immediately started working on the HOW part. I rehearsed new, in-depth ways of saying my “I love you” phrase (often in front of a mirror like a real actor :-)) and then consciously watched the reactions to different approaches.
I soon became aware of the following;
- Each member of my family (my wife, daughter, son) has a different way of perceiving and evaluating the importance of information (my “I love you” phrase)
- I must pick the right time of the day to say something meaningful (especially with my wife
- I must feel it at the same moment of saying it
So, what did I learn;
- I can forget rehearsing and researching ways of saying something significant and deep-meaning to someone I love, rather I must feel it and say it when it suits THEM.
- If I don’t feel deep love at a particular moment, I shouldn’t express how I feel. Again, it’s better to chose the right moment for me and my family members and ignoring this only introduces more confusion rather than having a positive impact. This particular discovery was strengthen after reading Joshua Becker‘s Plain, Honest Speech in his e-book “Simplify”
- I must take my time to say it. This means, let my family members anticipate what I want to say and how much it means to me.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, “I love you” should never be allowed to become an automatic phrase that’s said without thought or feeling. It should be said because it’s appropriate to the person and to the moment.
By applying what I’ve learned and forming the right “I love you” habit, I must say that this time I believe I’ve reached my objective. While striving to be better husband and dad, my family knows that I love them and that my love is unconditional. Hopefully this insight helps them start the day with more happiness and a positive attitude.
If you’d like to get your hands on Joshua’s e-book, “Simplify”, you will find a link below to get it.
Also read: Unconditional Parenting
Happy “I love youing”