P. S. I Love You

Saying I love you doesn't have to be a burden. Yet if you do an Internet search, you will find that many of us need help in expressing love. John Lennon said it well in 1967, "All you need is love, love. Love is all you need." But let's assume that you have the love, you just don't know what to do with it.

Learn to be multilingual

Learning to say I love is a lifelong quest that grows with the loves of your life. There are as many ways to express love as there are people and moments of time. Expressing love is an intimate glimpse into your own heart, and it emerges with self-acceptance and letting go of fear. It is not based on the economy of giving so that I can get, but rather on freedom, generosity and mindfulness.

You can learn to say I love you in many languages. This is fun and adds spice and nuance to your communication. But your actual words are not as important as how you say them. Expressing love is about embedding words into a context of unconditional love.

Learning to say I love you means learning skills of lovemaking. We do a disservice when we limit saying I love you to three words, or lovemaking to genital sex. If we want to become multilingual lovers, then every moment provides us with ways to express love.

I love you picture
Love is expressed in a context of relationship, memories, experiences, and current stressors. It is not enough to "do unto others what you would have them do unto you," although that is an excellent start. Expressing love emerges from careful study of your loved one, observation, experimentation, and attentive listening.

The context of your declaration of love goes far beyond the current context, although time and place are important considerations. Choose an unhurried time and uncluttered space, literally and figuratively.

Paying attention to context includes the life of your lover, but also your own ability to love and accept yourself, and to swing freely in the risk of expressing love for another. Your courage and care will be visible in your open facial expression and body posture, your warm eye contact, and your caring tone of voice.

Ways to Express Love: Learn the Love Languages

Gary Chapman has given us a basic paradigm for saying I love you in his bestselling book, The 5 Love Languages.
We are drawn to people who have a different love language than ours. We often find ourselves at cross-purposes when it comes to speaking and hearing love, like we are speaking foreign languages.

Chapman believes that there are five main love languages. The more languages we learn, the more proficient we become as lovers. We need to learn our own love language so that we can help our lover express love in a way that we can hear and receive it. We need to learn the language of our lover so that our love is heard (Find Love Language assessment at http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/love).

1. Words of affirmation and appreciation:
The people you love need to hear the words, "I love you," and all of the reasons why you love them. It's not hard to say. It's not dangerous to say, either. So: Just say it!

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones" (Bible, Proverbs 16:24).

- Tell them in detail what you like about them
- Tell them in detail how you see them.
- Tell them what you appreciate about their accomplishments.
- Tell them how they bring love to your life.
- Be lavish in your praise.
- Ask questions about what they think and feel.
- Compliment them in front of others.
- Send text messages of love.
- Write them poems.
- Quote the words of great love writers.

2. Quality time:
We lead busy lives, and many of us are hungry for love to be spoken through time spent together.

- Be an attentive listener with full eye contact.
- Take a walk together.
- Watch an old movie together.
- Sit together before a fire in silence.
- Read books to each other.
- Watch a sunrise, a sunset, or the night sky in quietness.
- Linger over a candlelit meal.
- Take a picnic of wine, bread, and cheese.
- Shop for holiday gifts together.
- Chose to say no to work and yes to play time with your lover.
- Go dancing together.

3. Receiving gifts:
For some, gifts speak your love much louder than saying I love you.

- Send (make your own) romantic and funny cards. Send an online card.
- Surprise your lover by placing notes in their suitcase, briefcase, or underwear.
- Give flowers, plants, bulbs to plant, and herbs to eat or cook.
- Reflect their interests and preferences with a personalized gift.
- Take them to their favorite restaurant for no reason at all.
- Develop interests together with tickets to the theater, opera, ballet, art show, or sporting event.
- Bring them mementos from your travel, or from your daily life: a stone, a leaf, a work page doodled with hearts.

4. Acts of service:
Your loved one may hear you saying I love you when you do things for them. What are the chores that they find most difficult or distasteful, or procrastinate about? Do them!

- Take out the trash.
- Clean the apartment.
- Do the bills.
- Wash and gas the car.
- Food shop and cook a healthy meal.
- Bake bread or cookies.
- Paint a piece of old furniture.
- Repair a broken clock.
- Cut or color their hair.
- Do the bills.
- Fight with customer service providers for them.
- Bring lunch or coffee to their place of work.

5. Physical touch:
From infancy to old age, we all need physical touch and fail to thrive without it.

- Enhance your repertoire of non-genital touch with hugs, holding hands, and all sorts of kisses.
- Learn the art of massage and include regular focal massages. Try the scalp, the face, the hands, the - feet, the buttocks. Use different oils and lotions.
- Experiment with different depths of touch from a light caress, to slow, deep kneading.
- Give them a manicure or a pedicure.
- Don't be afraid to ask and experiment.
- Put on your own "show and tell" class!
- Observe carefully for good touch/bad touch feedback. Remember and practice!
- Try out "PDA," public displays of affection.
- Consider your loved one's body as a vast land of exploration.

Expressing Love Nonverbally: Lessons from a Dog

My dogs have loved me well over the years. Though they cannot say, "I love you," they are man's best friends because of their expertise in expressing love. For many who have been wounded in love, human language and touch can be a wobbly mode of communication. Not easily trusted, needing to be tested.

But pets bring laughter and healing in old folks' homes and acute care settings. Autistic children ride horses. The bereaved and disabled swim with dolphins. Miniature horses guide the blind. Dogs snuff out cancer and cats signal impending death in hospice care.

My dogs have modeled hospitality to me, welcoming me no matter what. Their unconditional love humbles me. They have sung and leapt for joy, wetting themselves in gladness at my arrival. They have grinned and kissed me lavishly.

When I leave, they have mourned me, clinging to me, trying to slip out the door with me, scratching and crying. Their loud, unashamed laments at my absence have been heard outside.

My dogs have taught me how to comfort and be comforted. My old beagle-dachshund howled when I cried, his nose raised to the sky in a mournful moaning. Dogs do not argue or preach or try to fix; they are silently present in our pain. They quietly inspect and lick at our sores.

My dogs have taught me to say 'I love you' and receive love through touch. Although he cannot speak, I know very well what pleases my rescued and adopted dog. His eyes and body glow with the touch that he likes. He prods my hand with his nose. He moves his body insistently to get me to scratch him. He teaches me to express love.

Expressing Love: Just do it!

Saying I love you is not an exact science. It is not a rigid set of rules to be memorized in order to get a good grade. There are an infinite number of ways to express love.

Perhaps the biggest secret to saying I love you and expressing love is love itself.

Practice makes perfect. Accept yourself. Accept your lover. Exercise forgiveness. Take the risk. Alfred Lord Tennyson said it best:

"I hold it true, whate'er befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; 'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

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