From “I love you” to “I’m sorry”, these familiar phrases will do more for your marriage than you think. BY SASHA GONZALES.
VANESSA MARIN, sex and relationship therapist based in the United States.
DANIEL KOH, psychologist at Insights Mind Centre.
CINDY LEONG, relationship coach at Relationship Studio and author of Suffering or Conquering – Happy Marriages in Singapore.
1 “I Appreciate You”.
Many of us tend to focus on our partner’s mistakes and flaws instead of what they are doing right. Vanessa Marin, a US-based sex and relationship therapist, says expressing appreciation for your husband will make him feel valued and loved. And, when he knows that what he’s doing is pleasing to you, he will do more of it.
Be specific about what he does that you are thankful for. For instance, say “I appreciate you cooking for the kids last week when I was sick” or “I appreciate that you work so hard for our family”. Focusing on the positive is also a good way to remind yourself that you have a good thing going.
2 “Let’s do something, just the two of us”.
If work and the kids are keeping you and your spouse busy, chances are you don’t have a lot of alone time. But part of keeping the spark alive involves spending quality time together, says Vanessa. When you say this, especially when your spouse least expects it, it adds an element of fun, excitement and spontaneity to your relationship, something that busy couples need more of.
Many couples don’t say this often enough to each other. If you have hurt your partner’s feelings, acknowledge it instead of sweeping it under the carpet or telling him to get over it. Cindy Leong, a relationship coach at Relationship Studio, says this phrase shows humility, sincerity and vulnerability, qualities that are crucial to emotional intimacy.
4“Let’s work on this so we can move on”
Do you sulk or give your spouse the silent treatment after an argument? Instead of exhibiting passive-aggressive behaviour, Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, suggests using this phrase to show that you are willing to work through the problem with your spouse and move forward as quickly as possible. More importantly, it shows a willingness to forgive and a desire to solve your problems as a team.
5“I love you for who you are”.
Show your spouse you accept him wholeheartedly by saying this, says Daniel. Many of us feel pressured to live up to certain standards in our relationship, and this phrase can help take some of that pressure off. When your partner knows that you accept and love him, it boosts his feelings of self-worth and makes him feel closer to you.
6“I love you”.
It’s such a simple phrase, yet many of us forget to say it. Don’t just save it for birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions. Say it whenever, and for absolutely no reason. “These three little words will build your partner’s self-esteem and self-worth,” says Cindy. “Knowing we are loved is reassuring and helps us thrive.”
7“I’m proud of you”.
Instead of saying “That’s great, honey!” when your partner has scored a big achievement, tell him how proud you are of him. It will make him feel respected, and nothing is more of an ego boost to a man than knowing that his wife respects and admires him, says Cindy. And don’t stop there. “Telling others about his accomplishments in his presence will also put a smile on his face.”
8“I’ll stand by you, no matter what”.
This is one of the simplest ways to express your loyalty and commitment to your spouse and marriage, says Daniel. Reminding your husband that you’re on his side, especially when he is going through a rough time, will help strengthen the bond you share as a couple, and make him feel more secure in the relationship.
9“I want you”.
“Couples claim to want more passion in their relationship, but then feel bashful about expressing their desire for each other. It’s important for your partner to know that you’re still attracted to him,” Vanessa points out. Spring this phrase on Hubby when you’re both watching TV and the kids are asleep, or in the middle of the day if you’re feeling frisky.
10“Let’s go with your decision”.
This is guaranteed to make your husband feel good and improve the bond you have with him. It’s not about being a doormat or giving him total control over every decision, says Cindy, it’s about showing that you trust him and the choices he makes.