How To Be In Love

Last week I wrote a post on the dangers of comparing my real life to someone else’s internet life (or as Anne Lamott says, “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides”). Since the post was meant to be an exploration of what happens when we let our insecurities run free, I was really interested in the conversation that followed, and how you guys did or didn’t relate to the situation (maybe I’m the only one who sees gloom and doom whenever her hormones fluctuate?). The comments surprised me in a lot of ways, mostly as they pertained to our perception of what’s real and what’s presentation on the internet (the good is a harder sell, it would appear). But one of my favorite comments came from Tea, who said:

Maybe some of the problem here is that, while media (and you know fairy tales and childhood and the dominant cultural narrative) is shouting BE ROMANTIC at all of us all of the time, there isn’t quite enough sharing about the million individual (and totally worthwhile) ways that romantic can look and feel besides roses filled with chocolates that explode into fireworks and Tiffany’s jewelry and engagements. Then, when we SHOULD be celebrating Manya for figuring this stuff out for herself-we have a collective “Oh shit! That’s what contemporary cool smart lady romance looks like??? I’m not doing that!”

Maybe we need to flood the internets with our own reminders of how to be in love, of the crazy and simple and beautiful and quiet ways that being in love can (but doesn’t have to) look like.

And of course, because y’all are wicked smart, someone chimed in right after and suggested that we should make that our next open thread. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

A funny thing has happened since I wrote my post. While Michael and I always strive to appreciate the little things we do for each other, I started working a little harder to recognize what love looks like in my relationship. And it turns out it looks a lot like having a partner who will step up and sacrifice a Saturday to help me at my job (Michael is a crack shot wedding photographer). It looks like a partner who is growing out his hair to donate to something I believe in (and who looks super hunky with long hair). And it looks like someone who is willing to put aside the fact that sometimes I act totally irrationally, who brought me coffee in bed for the first time this weekend, because my body hurts after I shoot weddings and because it was his way of saying, “your feelings matter, even if they are sometimes misplaced.”

So that’s a small snippet of how my household shows love. What about you?


Photo by Leah and Mark & Co.

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  • kathleenicanrah

    we don’t do sweet talk or big surprises, but we do a lot of asking “is there anything I can do for you?,” a lot of hands lower backs when entering a room, and a lot of public praise for one another.

  • Karen

    I serve (among other things) on the Strategic Planning Committee for my church. When we needed the chairs of teams and committees to attend a meeting but one of them couldn’t unless childcare was provided, my fabulous, amazing, incredible partner agreed to provide childcare. She was there on a Saturday morning with three children under the age of five, even helping one of them with going to the bathroom. Because I asked her to do this, the children’s mother could be at this important meeting. She is amazing. She does all the “little” things too like keeping up with dog hair and helping me laugh when I’m most stressed, but sometimes a big thing like this comes along and I’m reminded once again that I am the Luckiest Lesbian on Planet Earth!

    • My husband does this too!! Well, not provide childcare, but whenever I’m involved in something, and I need someone to help out, he always does what I need, no complaining, no grumbling. It is so wonderful to know I can always depend on him for that.

  • Sara C.

    This morning, being in love took the form of my husband knowing that I needed help zipping up a dress the moment I pulled it from the closet, and then being so excited when he remembered that it’s best to do the top hook first.

    • Meghan

      That is adorable!!

  • I’m on day 7 of a nasty cold and when I stayed home, sick and out of it, she got me cold medicine, groceries and my favorite cookies as a treat.

    We cuddle on the couch and sometimes she braids my hair.

    She watches Project Runway with me with minimal complaint (and y’all, it’s gotten really bad, lately).

    She proofs my papers for class and reminds me that I am not as stupid, worthless and terrible as I claimed. She gets more excited about my good grades than I do.

    • Aw, I proof my husband’s papers, and he’s always bouncing ideas off me. I’ve always taken it as a huge sign of his faith in me (since it’s graduate level work and I’ve only completed a Bachelor’s), but it’s nice to know that perhaps I am serving him more than I assume.

      • Tea

        Ha! My partner and I do very different types of writing, but often edit one another’s work (okay, and important e-mails, and kind of important-ish e-mails). We respect one another as writers a lot, but often approach things pretty differently. My parents sometimes joke that they knew we were meant for one another when they heard us debate a stylistic use of a comma for a good twenty minutes. Hey Hollywood, my love looks like bickering over punctuation marks, WHERE’S MY ROM COM?

        • ItsyBitsy

          This made me so happy! It’s almost a perfect description of my fiance’s parents’ type of love. Except maybe substitute the interpretation of some historical fact with punctuation.

    • Lauren

      This is so funny, because the biggest, most awful fight the fella and I ever got in to was over me editing his papers and him not taking the advice. We have very different writing styles, so we both just let it go. No one edits anyone else’s papers around here anymore!

      • The last paper I wrote, we had a bit of an argument because I was writing coming from a non-profit fundraising background and she was coming from an English degree background. She made me add a lot of footnotes. I was displeases, but it made sense in the long run.

        • KW

          Ooops! Accidentally reported your comment. Sorry!

      • I generally don’t read his papers, but spotted an effect/affect mistake over his shoulder and pointed it out. At which point, he was so done with working on the paper he was like “yeah, whatever, I’ll get to it.” And then I got annoyed because I was really concerned he’d forget to correct it and it was his thesis, so it was a huge deal. . .

        And he did eventually fix it. Then purposefully use the wrong one on my birthday present just to bug me. Cue: eyeroll.

    • Sarah

      Dude, Project Runway has been such a DUD this season.

      • The last couple have been pretty terrible, but for some reason, I keep coming back. (Also, she loves ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding,’ or as I call it, Teenagers Making Poor Life Choices, so it kind of evens out)

      • meg

        Oh! But the right person won! It was ok. Last season was pretty terrible though.

    • Hee! to all of the editing comments. My fiance makes his living as a copy editor, while I occasionally copy edit for faculty members in the depts. for which I admin. He has ages and ages more experience with it than I do, so when I get to a sticky question that Grammar Girl can’t solve, I IM him from the office and he helps solve my problem.

  • Martha

    While I was carefully stamping little birdcages on our wedding favors last night, J grabbed the stamper from my hand, pressed it to both of our arms and told me I belonged to him now. It was hilarious and heartwarming at the same time, even if the stamp was a little smudged.

    • Shiri

      Heart melting.

    • soooo sweet!!!

    • jess


  • We catch each other’s eyes (from across the room, across the dinner table, from our desks across the room from each other) and one of us will change expression–whether it’s a widening of the eyes, a low whistle, or sticking out our tongue–and the other will mimic it, and then we’ll go back to what we were doing. It’s a small moment of “I see you. I love you. I enjoy being with you.”

    We thank each other for doing thankless chores, make pacts to get in shape together so we can live to 150 together, and make each other promise that we’ll never die.

    He picks up my dirty cups and dishes that I leave EVERYWHERE (he literally just came and collected my syrup smeared breakfast place from my desk as I type this) without complaint. I pick up the damp towels he leaves on the bedroom floor and grumble only to myself.

    • One More Sara

      Thanking each other for chores is big around here. If he doesn’t say thank you within 5 minutes of being home/me doing a chore, I subtly ask him “HEY DID YOU NOTICE I EMPTIED AAAND LOADED THE DISHWASHER???!!?!” Which is always answered with a thank you, a smile and usually a big hug too :)

      • Oh thank gods, I’m not the only person who does that. “HEY, DID YOU SEE THE KITCHEN? AND HOW YOU HAVE CLEAN LAUNDRY? THAT’S AWESOME, RIGHT?”

        • Breck

          Oh god, I’m terrible. I even announce when I take my hair out of the shower drain, which I think is just standard manners when you shed like a sheepdog.

          • One More Sara

            I don’t always remember to take my hair out of the shower, but when I do, I announce it very loudly.

          • Oh, the shedding! Our tub doesn’t have the type of drain where you can put a “hair-catcher” in so it has to be fished out with a coat hanger every once in a while.
            I’m pretty sure I announce my good deeds to people even outside of our home when that happens.

        • Caroline

          I demand thanks for most chores. “Did you seeeee, I did the dishes.”

        • Amanda L.

          You are not the only one. He is the main chore do-er, thanks to his mild OCD, so he never mentions what he does. But when I do something, I HAVE TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED. I have put my clean clothes away with 24 hours of washing. I have emptied the dishwasher, I have put all my shoes in the closet!!!

      • Maria

        I definitely demanded (and received, with love, hugs and laughter) gold stars for vacuuming the tiny bit of carpet we have.

  • My grandmother passed away last Monday. We were very, very close, and she’d been sick for a very long time. I was in London, on a much anticipated work-trip/solo-vacation when she passed away, and I made the painful decision to stay and honor her love of travel.

    My partner took the day off work and went to the funeral for me, to pray at my grandmother’s casket, to hug my mother for all the times that I couldn’t, to love my huge, crazy family, to bring me back a rose and a mass card and stories about all my little cousins being cute little kids. He took care of me that day, but he also took care of my mom and my whole family; it was the most generous thing I could ever ask for.

    • Shiri

      This is so lovely. I’m so sorry about your grandmother (and totally recognize you from ESB lurking, by the way) and I’m glad your partner could be there in your stead., both for your family and for you.

      Sending (very APW style and not very ESB style) big hugs.

      • Aw, thanks! All that esb kindness really pulled me through a challenging week. (APW & ESB are basically the only two blogs I read everyday.)

        • Shiri

          I’m so glad it helped. I think it was the nicest I’ve ever seen the ESB commenters (something about that comment section gets makes me snarky sometimes, too, even). They’re my only two daily blogs, too!

          • jess

            I recognized your story from ESB too. I’m really glad your partner was able to make you feel loved and supported, even though it must have been really hard for both of you. Hugs here as well!

    • Another Meg

      Oh this is amazing. It really shows that your family is his family.

      I had a smaller version of this moment when my grandpa died. Banjo sat in between my little sister and me at the funeral, and when my dad started keening (only way I can describe the absolute wails of pain that echoed throughout the quiet church), it set off my little sister. Banjo put his arm around her and she grabbed his waist and sobbed into him. He just held my hand and rubbed her shoulder. Which obviously set me off and then he was holding both of us as we soaked his suit.

      Family is so central in that kind of moment, and it’s no small thing that your partner stepped in for you. It shows the best kind of love.

      • Wow, that’s so beautiful (and in no way “smaller). It’s in times like these that I realize how important weddings actually are. We have all these ceremonies to commemorate when a loved one dies; we need the parallel celebrations of being alive. It’s remarkable how many families members have gushed about their enthusiasm for our wedding, as a happy, celebratory spot on the horizon.

  • He vacuums the apartment because he knows I hate to vacuum.

    I tried to think of something else to say, but the sentence above really explains what I think our love feels like. Yes, we hold hands sometimes, and kiss sometimes, and go out dancing sometimes. And in a lot of ways we look like a very romantic couple. But when it comes down to it, I love him because he does little things that mean a lot to me, because he loves me. It’s the little things that really matter.

  • Sarah

    My classic “non-romantic” realization of my husbands love went a little like this.
    Husband: singing a silly song about how my orange jacket made my arm look like a carrot
    Me: We need more romance. Why don’t you say romantic things to me??
    Husband: totally confused look on his face – “I just sang you the carrot song!”

    It was then that I realized that my “traditional” ideas about romance were crazy and didn’t really have a leg to stand on in my real-life relationship. So now, when my husband calls me insane pet names, or walks the dogs without me asking, or goes to the park eventhough he hates the sun, I feel incredibly loved and romanced.

    • This reminds me of Marshall and Lily on How I Met Your Mother. Sounds so much like what Marshall would do!

      • Paranoid Libra

        I actually read that line like Marshal the first time through. Glad I’m not alone.

    • alyssa

      “I just sang you the carrot song!” totally adorable. and very, very romantic :)

    • My husband does this too and it’s hilariously adorable. Makes me all warm and fuzzy thinking about it.

    • Rebecca

      THIS!!! My fiance and I have all sorts of weird little songs and nicknames that we use with each other. This is the kind of stuff that I always use to illustrate how our love looks. It makes me so happy to hear about other couples who love in similar ways.

      • Amanda

        Totally agree with this. We also have so many weird nicknames and inside jokes. His last song to me was about hummus. Glad we’re not alone!

    • Hannah K

      I love french bulldogs and I think their screaming and howling is hilarious. Thus, my comedian boyfriend daily improvises versions of pop songs as though they are being sung by french bulldogs about french bulldog things (wanting to eat meat, having hip dysplasia, screaming when they don’t get what they want, getting infected face wrinkles), in a ridiculous french bulldog voice, because he knows it will make me laugh til I fall over. He does other nice stuff too, but that’s definitely the most…personalized form of romance we’ve got going…

  • Ashley

    I would say my favorite way we show each other we love each other is always saying I love you back. So even during a fight, when things are going a little rough, one of us will say “I love you” and then the other, sometimes begrudgingly, will say “I love you too”. It goes both ways and it feels like our own little pact – that no matter what the circumstances we choose to love each other. On a less serious note, lately he is really good at dressing up my food in cute ways – putting my blueberries in a happy face on my yogurt or writing I love you with hot sauce on my taco plate. He is also very good at the every day thoughtful stuff like picking me up a favorite beverage on his way home (which I kinda suck at). I tend to send him texts or give him cards that say how much I appreciate him. I haven’t read the love languages book, by I imagine I show love by my words, and he shows love by everyday actions.

    • I have this habit of meekly saying “I love you” during a lull in an argument, and David always says it back in this slightly annoyed tone of voice. It used to make me feel worse, but then I decided to turn it around and look at it the way you describe. We are choosing to love each other. Even when we’re annoyed. VERY annoyed. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

      • Irene

        An awesome couple I knew did this all the time, to the point that I once heard “I’m loving you more and more by the minute!” in a loud and irritated voice.

        • Ashley

          That is so awesome – if I can keep my humor about me during our next argument I will definitely use it!

    • ItsyBitsy

      We do this, too! Begrudging “I love you, too” included (usually on my part). It is totally something that he started and that I also used to get annoyed by, but I’m trying to see it for what it is: Loving each other even when we’re not liking each other.

  • i build her shelves and closet space and do the dishes.
    i am learning, slowly and badly, to bring her tokens (like the mango, which was not on the grocery list) and cards (i get pretty ones, but then i leave them blank).

    she brings me flowers (grown, not bought!) and draws me picture books about her love. she is also learning to make coffee and tell me i am good at building shelves and doing dishes.

    it has been a learning experience, this “what does love look like” thing.

  • JC

    For me, love looks like a fiance who texts me at 5pm to ask what I want for dinner, when I won’t get to leave the hospital until 8, so that he can have dinner ready for me when I get home; who insists on having his car examined before he lets me drive it cross-country; and who does all of the laundry so that my arachniphobic self doesn’t have to go into our creepy, spider-infested basement.

  • How we show love: we say please and thank you. I let him listen to bluegrass in the car. He always puts the right amount of cream cheese on my bagels. We read aloud to each other. We cook together. We send little texts throughout the day and sometimes accompany them with selfies. We are working really hard at bridging the gap between logical and emotional.

    We have started directly asking for the things we want from each other (“I would like to have sex tonight, but first I need you to hold me for a little while and say nice things to me.” or “I want to talk about this situation that is upsetting me at work, and I want you to listen, but I don’t want you to try to fix it for me.”) It is SUPER romantic, even when the asking feels awkward and scary.

    We always kiss hello and goodbye.

    • Yes, yes, YES to asking for things! There’s this terrible, pervasive, insidious idea that if someone loves you they can actually READ YOUR MIND and just telepathically know what you want in any given moment. (Perpetuating this idea is maybe the worst thing about rom coms, imo.)

      But there’s something so delightfully freeing about asking directly and kindly for what you want, and then–getting it! It’s easy for everyone; everyone wins!

      Sometimes I like to give my partner a warning, “I had a hard day, and when I come home I’m going to need a really big hug right away.”And he always, always takes care of me when I let him know the best ways to do that.

    • Breck

      Yes, on the directly asking for things. I’m a hardcore planner, so when we go out to eat I usually wade through Yelp reviews, weighing the pros and cons of $/type of food/walking distance/whatever and send him a few suggestions, then we pick. I was starting to do that the other day, when suddenly had an overwhelming urge to not have to do any of the leg work. So I told him I wanted him to take me out on a date. We’re going out to dinner somewhere on Saturday, and all I’m doing is showing up (in our living room… hah) in a dress and lipstick. So excited!

      • YES! YES! YES! on asking for things. This is the biggest thing I have learned about marriage–to ask for what I need.

  • There’s almost nothing we wouldn’t rather do together than by ourselves. To us, that’s what love looks like. Or co-dependency. But it works for us! :)

  • Sara W

    Whenever we as a couple get something accomplished, we always fist bump with our left hands/wedding rings. Sort of a, “By our powers combined” we rocked this task!

    • Love this! For us, someone sings that line from “F*ck Her Gently” by Tenacious D, “That’s f*cking team work!” If we’re in public I substitute “Eff” to protect the innocent.

      • Autumn

        We do this too! I love that others are singing that to each other as well.

      • alyssa

        We do this too! Haha

      • We do this All. The. Time. We also have a hand signal for how awesome we are when we support each other, b/c we are dorks.

    • carrie

      We do this too and we do the exploding hands after each one. Along with the PSHHHH sound effect.

      In short, I love both of these comments muchly.

      • Tricia

        We sing that song too!
        …and high five after particularly good romps ;)

    • Slade

      That is the cutest fucking thing I’ve heard in the last ten minutes. And the last ten minutes have been spent reading this thread, which is the cutest thing I’ve heard in the last day, since I read APW yesterday. You guys are fucking adorable. :)

    • jess

      We do this too!

    • Jen AB

      We do a variation of this: the fist-bump, accompanied by blowing on our rings as if they’re whistles, a la Lisa and Bart Simpson (“only two members of this family have special rings!”).

  • Abby

    He’ll reach out for my hand. Waiting for our orders at a restaurant, meandering around the mall, driving (at stop lights!)– he’ll take my hand and simply hold it. Our conversations continue as they were, but the physical contact is how he expresses his affections and shows his support for me.

    It’s such a strange and wonderful thing for me because, since I could remember, my parents never held hands. Physicality was not part of their love and thus, for a long time, it wasn’t part of mine. Still, it’s a little thing he does that I hope he never stops doing, and I hope he doesn’t misinterpret MY lack of hand-holding initiation as rejection.

    • I know how that is!

      My parents have been married 36 years but they don’t express affection through touch at all. I’ve never seen them touch. No kisses, no hugs, no hand holding. It’s just not them.

      So I’m not used to much physical touch.

      My finace is always holding me and touching me and holding my hand and I love it! I can’t get enough :)

      • Kimberly

        My husband’s family is like that and it has taken him a while to warm up to me, who shows physicality as love. In fact, one of my favorite moments is at Christmas when my whole family is packed into my grandmom’s house and we are all touching each other as we pass and hugging and high-fiving and just being a big, goofy lovable family.

  • Today: I trapped a spider under a glass in the bathroom this morning, and left a post-it on the mirror asking him to take care of it. I went back home for lunch and the spider is gone :-)

    Two Weeks Ago: “Thrift Shop” came on the radio when we were driving home from a vintage/recycled fashion show. I asked him to drive around the block so we could listen to it, and he did- he has the perfect baritone for the chorus. It truly is f*cking awesome.

    The Day after our First Date: He still kissed me hello. We had a great date, ended up drinking too much beer while we talked for hours, then made out at my apt door for a while. I was worried that I shouldn’t have drunk so much or made out with him right away, and that he’d just want physical stuff. But the next day, when I saw him before class, in a crowded hallway, he still kissed me hello.

    • G always gets my spiders for me! If that’s not romance, I don’t know what is!

  • I don’t even know where to begin with this!

    Since he lost his job, he just out of the blue started doing all the cooking, cleaning, ironing, tidying and he does it all with incredible cheer. I get to open my underwear drawer an have clean underwear without ever going near the washing machine!

    Sometimes when I don’t feel like getting out of bed at 6:00 am to take my dog outside to pee, I poke him and he does it for me even though she is my dog (I had her for five years before I met him).

    When I’m sad, depressed, miserable and I haven’t washed my hair in a week, he holds me and strokes my arm and tells me that I’m beautiful. Then he makes me his herbal “happiness” tea that he got at a hippie tea shop.

    I text him and ask him to run an errand and he always does.

    He lets me eat more of the ice cream.

    When I don’t feel well, he finds remedies for me.

    When I’m getting attacked on the Internet, he tells me why they’re all wrong and I’m awesome.

    He never loses his temper or gets angry. He is kind, calm, compassionate.

    He talks about meditation with my dad.

    There’s at least a million other moments I’m not even thinking of right now. I think my fiance is a hugely romantic person.

    • Louise

      “I get to open my underwear drawer an have clean underwear without ever going near the washing machine”

      Right?! This is the best!

      • Rebecca

        This is one is my job. I do all of the laundry always. As in, If M needed to do laundry himself he would probably need to read the manual because he has never operated our current washer and dryer! I don’t mind because he does the dishes most of the time. I just leave them by the sink and he does them even though it’s not his favorite thing. So, I get a kick out of folding his underwear and announcing that his underwear drawer is “fully stocked”.

    • Catcat

      “When I’m getting attacked on the Internet, he tells me why they’re all wrong and I’m awesome.”

      I love this. Even if you know objectively that mayyyyyyybe you were also a little wrong, or (more often) you are overracting to something a stranger said on the Internet, it’s the most amazing thing to have him be like “What a doofus! You are obviously right! Ugh!” He has your back and you are a team, even on the Internet!

  • Quinners

    My fiancee makes really labour-intensive meals/baked goods for me just because I like or want them; I sit up with her all night in the hospital. She writes lovely blog posts about me for relationship milestones; I keep a list of things I love about her and give her pieces of it on special occasions. We bring home movies that we know the other person wants to see that are not on Netflix. She knows to tell people to give me gift cards for books on my birthday; I knew that she would actually like being given an intangible goat for Christmas.

    We say thank you for everything.

    She spent ages trying to figure out exactly the right way to propose. I arranged for a magician to put her engagement ring into her hand at a magic show because she loves magic.

    On one of our first dates, which was on a regular Monday afternoon, the waiter asked us what we were celebrating. The answer was nothing, but it could have been that we already knew we wanted to spend our lives together.

    I don’t know – I think we’re just always trying to be considerate and appreciative of one another. We both count ourselves lucky to be in this relationship, so we try not to take each other for granted.

    • I know it’s not quite the same thing, but…you could donate a goat to a poor family in her name!

      • Quinners

        That’s actually what I did! :) I said “intangible goat” because I bought her a goat, just not one she could touch, and phrasing it that way is the sort of thing she and I find funny.

    • Angie

      “On one of our first dates, which was on a regular Monday afternoon, the waiter asked us what we were celebrating. The answer was nothing, but it could have been that we already knew we wanted to spend our lives together.”

      This made me cry a little bit. It’s just so romantic and lovely!

  • It’s him quitting his job and launching his own business in preparation to follow me and my career around the world. It’s also me taking an entire continent out of consideration for said career because the infrastructure won’t support his remote work.

    Plus he always picks up the dog poop.

    • Alicia

      All diplomatic spouses deserve a big high-five! My husband gave up his career for mine too. I can’t explain how much that sacrifice means to me.

    • Laura

      He scoops my cat’s poop. Every. Day.

      (Most spoiled cat ever.)

  • 1. He washes the dishes even though he hates it after I’ve had a long day.

    2. Falling asleep in each other’s arms, tangled and warm, safe and content.

    3. Buying/making/finding each other coffee everyday.

    4. We clean together. And sometimes we don’t clean together.

    5. Knowing when and how to run interference with each other’s families.

    6. No morning starts without a kiss on the way out the door. No evening ends without a goodnight.

    7. Lots of sex. And frank conversations about sex. And sometimes just hands. And sometimes a pass on those nights when someone can’t keep their eyes open. Make-up morning sex.

    8. Back rubs smooth over many kerfuffles.

    9. Support in sickness and in health, through new medications, ER visits, unexpected hospital stays, chronic illness, and anxiety disorders.

    10. Over-communication: Seeking to never miss opportunities to affirm, to communicate grievances/frustrations in a timely and calm manner, to talk through big decisions, to verbalize feelings, to voice fears, to explain one’s thinking, and to ask good questions to understand where the other is coming from.

    • KTH

      “Knowing when and how to run interference with each other’s families.”


      • “Knowing when and how to run interference with each other’s families.”

        He’s told me that sometimes he and his parents(metaphorically) make the most overly strong coffee ever, and sometimes I need to come in and act as the cream.

    • ItsyBitsy

      #5 – YES YES YES YES YES.

      #6 – Us, too!! Even when we’re angry or frustrated. I felt silly at first when I realized that I had unconsciously made it a rule, but for us it just makes life better.

  • Teresa

    After our dinner every night, my husband turns to me and thanks me for cooking. When I am rushing in the morning, me makes my tea in my travel mug and packs my lunch for me, then walks me to the door. Last night, when I was stressed and scared, he waited patiently for me to be ready to talk about it, even though I was being kind of a jerk. He takes out the garbage and does our laundry. He gives me honest opinions about my outfits. He read all seven Harry Potter books b/c I love them–if that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

  • Last week I spent two days pranking my dear Mike with the CAT FACTS text prank. It made him insane for two whole days until he finally blocked the number. Then I changed my number and started again. I sent enough CAT FACTS that I maxed out two different Google voice accounts. This doesn’t sound much like love does it? Well it is and here’s why: *everyone needs a good laugh * pranks are only funny when they are done with love * he genuinely loves cats, so I thought he might appreciate the facts * that last one is totally not true * when building a long life with someone, memories count * memories count a lot * especially that time when I blew up your phone with CAT FACTS texts.

    It’s already become a loving joke between us.

    Let’s say love is like a house. It’s all about the “foundation” right? But then what? What about the bricks? I like to think of those as the memories you build as a couple or family. Just one after another.


  • Breck

    What a lovely open thread.

    We watch The Daily Show and Colbert Report (the news) every night together over dinner. Most of the time, we can barely finish watching them before it’s bedtime because we have to pause the shows so many times so we can stop and talk about whatever is going on. Then we inevitably start talking about something else, and on and on. I love how we never run out of things to say to each other.

    • Caroline

      We do that with Call The Midwife. “Wait is that a real thing? Is that how it’s treated today? Is there really no treatment? Is that how this should be handled? What causes it? How do you prevent it? What the heck is that?” he asks me. A long discussion follows, often involving pulling out one or several of my midwifery textbooks. (I was going to be a midwife for a whole and studied a lot, and still have all my textbooks.)
      *side note: I just realized there are kind of a lot of birth complications in call the midwife, although it’s way more normative of birth than most TV.

      • EKS

        Call the midwife is a great show, and I too think the topics it brings up are so important to discuss!

  • Erin

    I couldn’t figure out how to upload Microsoft Word onto my computer. I complained about it one evening to Adam. The next day, I took my computer out during class and opened it. On the front screen was a word doc that said, “Here Erin. I downloaded MSOffice. I love you.” That was pretty much the most romantic thing that anyone has ever done for me. Sexy or not, I’ll take it!

    • Sian

      That is so sweet and thoughtful!

  • Emily

    Last night, after I got home from a long, scary drive in the rain, my husband told me how happy he was that I was home. He was visibly happy to see me, too. Then he said that when he’s happy with our relationship, everything else in his life is better.

    I’m working at home today, and I took lunch for the two of us to his office (partly, though to get a break from grading papers!). It gave us a little half hour together that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

    Being in love is so many things, but the simple words and the simple gestures go a long way.

  • Moe

    My husband just texted me to tell me he’s working late tonight and I won’t see him until 9pm. This makes me sad. I’ll make sure there’s something for him to eat when he arrives.

    My husband walks the dog in the morning because he knows I don’t have the time to do it.

    He frequentlly updates my iPod for me.

    We sometimes surprise each other with cash because a I rarely carry it or he needs it when work is slow. We call it a husband/wife bonus.

    A local donut shop makes ham and cheese croissants but you must arrive early before they sell out. We take turns going to get some on Sunday mornings.

    I load cash onto his Starbucks card from my iPhone so he can have iced tea. (Ok, then I get to redeeem the free drinks)

    Perhaps my favorite gesture of his was when we were dating and something was wrong with my dog. He picked her up at home and took her to the vet for me before the office closed so that I could rush from work to meet them there. My girlfriend texted me “Girl, that man loves you. Marry him NOW.”

    • marbella

      7 years ago, my childhood dog was getting on in age and eventually she got a large inoperable tumour that got too much, and we had to put her down. We were all really upset. While we all cried inside, my now husband dug her a (pretty large) grave out in the rain in our garden. I was already in love with him, but that incident pretty much solidified what an amazing partner he was and I have never forgotten how I felt about it.

      • Moe

        I know the day will come I won’t have little pup with me anymore and I can’t even imagine how I’ll handle it, but I know I’ll need my husband and he’ll be there for me.

        After we got married I overheard him talking to someone about “his” dog and I knew that he had committed to her as well as me.

  • Rachel

    Eric and I just speak our own language. It consists of quotes from 90s and 2000s songs, French words that we badly mispronounce, and other odds and ends that make perfect sense to us but are just weird to outsiders. And we can literally talk for hours. I never met someone who wanted to talk to me as much as I want to talk to them…when I realize we’ve been going for an hour on some random, obscure topic, it makes me feel all warm inside. We email each other every single day from work and I love the emails we send. Every time I get a new email from him, it makes me feel loved (and extra loved when he emails me first).

    Speaking of language, a few years ago, when my brother was a baby, he started referring to me as “Zsas” (as in “Zsa Zsa Gabor”…but actually after the sound of the hair dryer, which I guess he associated with me as a young child)…he never called me by my first name and he still doesn’t. Well, Eric calls me Zsas now too and every time he says it, it makes me feel all warm inside. I can’t explain it but it’s like a whole love letter put into a single word.

    • I am really super glad that we are not the only couple that seems to speak in their own language. I swear we have so many weird random phrases it could fill your average dictionary sized paperback.

    • He and I call each other names. Sometimes lovey dovey ones, but more often totally strange ones: “Sweet Pear, Sassafras, Littlest Chicken, Aardvark.”

      We are rebranding our wedding photography business and naming it after our most common nicname, so we’re becoming “Smitten Chickens.”

    • Rachel

      Rachel: This is funny – my name is also Rachel, and my little sister always (inexplicably) called me ‘Sassafras’ (or Sas, for short) when she was little, which sounds similar to Zsas. I was already thinking that was a funny coincidence, and then I saw the comment below yours from Sarah saying one of her nicknames is Sassafras. Small world.

      • Rachel Wilkerson

        Ahhh…even weirder, Eric calls me Sassafras sometimes! (Mostly when I’m being cranky or snarky.)

  • Amy

    My husband does the dishes, daily, even though he teases me for trying to use every pot and pan in the house while making dinner.

    Kisses are necessary as soon as we see each other after work.

    Cuddling, mucho, all the time, everywhere.

    • ItsyBitsy

      “My husband does the dishes, daily, even though he teases me for trying to use every pot and pan in the house while making dinner.”

      That is our life. So awesome.

  • LILY

    As we’ve been decorating and furnishing our new house, he makes sure that with every project I learn a new skill or master another tool. And he tells me how awesome it is that I come home and pick up the power drill right away, still in my work clothes. Also, whenever I am driving us somewhere, he keeps his left hand on my leg. It’s a lovely gesture and always makes me feel loved and protected. And he encourages me to visit my family more often when he can tell that I’m homesick.

    • Another Meg

      Love this!

      Making sure you keep learning is pretty great. Banjo always teaches me how to do whatever it is he’s doing for me, so next time I can do it myself. Or still ask him to do it because I just don’t want to, but at least now I have the choice. I’m working on making his wedding ring right now, so I’m going to learn how to use a Dremel and I’m pretty psyched.

      Banjo also encourages me to visit friends and family more often. One of my best friends has lupus, so sometimes she can’t really leave her house for a span of months. He’s the one encouraging dates at her place with movies and pizza. I try to do this for him as well- I got one of his best friends to drive in from Oklahoma for his birthday, then sober-drove them out to burgers and bars.

      I know he’d do the same for me if my friends all lived out of town. We make each other better people, which takes my cake.

  • Louise

    He makes me tea and runs me a hot bath when I’m having a bad day.
    When I decide the world is made of Bad Things and it’s much safer as a duvet burrito he makes tuna-melts and we watch bad Arnie films or both mess around with internet geekery. He accepts that I’m a terrible editor of his scripts because I’m too busy fan-girling. He consistently believes in me and what I can do if I try even if I don’t. Even when his pep-talks make me get even more irritated because of the self recriminating silliness that is me in my brain. Far more patience than I would exhibit if I were him.

    I need to remind myself of the small awesomes more often (mostly when I’m grumbling about half finished chores and not being very subtle about it…)

  • carrie

    David always moves my towel to the hook closest to the shower after he showers (he showers first on weekdays).

    I always help make his lunch if I’m around – he makes sandwiches (he does lunch for two days at a time) and I pour out applesauce and pack his baby carrots.

  • CC

    I sing songs with his name in them. He cooks for me, especially my favorite foods. I love how the results are always so much better when we’re working on a project together.

  • Lena

    After 7 years love for us looks like:

    He brings me cold diet cokes because he knows it will brighten any mood.
    I remind him of all his family/friend holidays (and usually pick out the gift as well)
    He packs picnics for us just because
    I cook him dinner
    We hold hands whenever we can
    I scratch his back when he is tense because he loves it and it relaxes him
    He holds me through my ugly sobbing panic attacks
    I tell him how awesome he is (with reasons) when he is down
    He hangs out with my Dad when I am out of town so he won’t be alone
    We split cheap beer at pretty places
    He goes antique shopping with me, with minimal grumbling
    I share my candy stash, even if I do grumble about it
    We cuddle because he knows I need it
    He sends me texts when he is out with his friends, telling me how lucky he is
    We watch awful tv together always making sure part of us is contact with the other
    He gives me his jacket, even when he is cold, even when I said I didn’t need one
    We still kiss hello and goodbye
    He lets me eat some of his fries, even though I said I didn’t want any
    We fight about who has to die first when we are old , since the other wouldn’t be able to stand it
    We tell eachother “I love you” multiple times a day, because sometimes you need it spelled out for you

    • “Hangs out with my Dad” got me pretty teary-eyed. What a sweet and wonderful list . . . and better yet, a wonderful relationship. :)

  • Karen H.

    My husband and I work significantly different hours, and have since we’ve been out of college. He leaves before I get out of bed in the morning, and every day for the past 6+ years he’s kissed me good bye and told me he loves me. He started doing it when we first moved in together. A few weeks after he started, he asked me about it saying he felt guilty waking me up, but wanted to tell me he loved me, and asked if it was OK to keep doing it. Honestly it’s my favorite way to wake up in the morning. Who doesn’t want to hear that they are loved?

    I leave little handwritten notes for him on post-its in places I know he’ll find them. Just saying things like “You’re awesome” or “I believe in you” or “That shirt looks hot on you.” Sometimes they’re just around the house like in his tool box or a book he’s reading, but sometimes I leave them on the front seat of his car or in his work portfolio if I know he’s got something coming up the next day. I pretty much always try to sneak one into his luggage when he goes on business trips.

  • Megan

    Gratitude is huge in our house, so I second (third and fourth) the above comments about saying thank you for chores and small acts of kindness. Also hands on lower backs when entering/leaving a room – yes! And we spoon every. single. night. Not long after we moved in together he mentioned that this was one of his favorite things that we do.

    And two weeks ago – my Mom is in town, to visit and to attend the wedding shower his aunts are throwing for us. I’m psyched to see her, but drowning in work and preparing for an upcoming international trip and generally being stressed and hateful. He says, “Do you want me to go pick up your Mom at the airport so you can have another hour to get work done?”

    When we first started saying I love you he said “I love you back” and I decided I liked that much better – it somehow seems more active and present than “I love you too.” So every morning before we leave for work that’s our exchange.

    I travel a lot for work, and before I leave I hide notes all over the house telling him how much I love him (and/or describing the naughty things we’re going to do as soon as I’m back!).

  • Paranoid Libra

    The fact that when we go grocery shopping he will force me to put my purse down into the cart because I always eventually do, but now he just grabs it as soon as we get into the store. He also offers to carry down my laundry basket since last year I had a horrendous nerve pain attack in my arms that for a few weeks I couldn’t even carry my coffee cup from my car into my cubicle without using both hands to support it and it still hurt let alone a heavy laundry basket. The fact that he continues to offer to carry down my laundry and also grabbing it whenever I ask without huffing at all just warms my heart.

    And there are 2 songs both by a band called Thrice that just always make me think of our love. One is called ‘The Weight” and the other is “Anthology” and that one line I feel is something we are all doing:

    “But I’ve still got badges to earn
    So keep sifting my soul ’cause I think that I’m starting to learn
    To love you that way”

    We are all trying to learn how we show and are shown love with our partners and I think it’s something any lasting relationship goes through because there are so many different ways to show love whether it’s by random flowers, being brought your favorite comfort food or drink, taking the dog for a walk when it is really just driving you up a wall as you try to do something, or however it is shown. All of us are learning how to continue to show love to our partners and how they show us their love back and that is awesome to have a community as a whole acknowledging the little things that show us love.

  • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

    My atheist partner sits beside me in worship every Sunday when we’re in my town. (And even gets up extra early on Easter to help make and serve breakfast between the major services.)

    • Lauren

      YES. My atheist fella goes to church with me when I ask AND we are having a Christian service. That is so much love I can’t even begin to fathom.

      • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

        It’s incredible. Whenever I go to one of his things that might not be my favorite, I remind myself that he’s spent way more time being there for me. It’s important that I be with him too.

    • My Deist partner goes to Catholic Masses with my family every time we visit them for the weekend!

  • FAJ

    Love this post and question! Since being newly married (going on two months) this question has been one I’ve struggled with. Especially since everyone seems to want to know how we are doing now that we are married. There is a difference, for sure, but that inquiry makes me feel anxious to produce this grand response that includes all the wonderful things I’m discovering about my partner and myself. All of which must be rosy. Honestly though its not rosy, its not bad, nor is it boring. It just is a combination of all those things and much more that makes me feel like I’m growing more and more in love with my husband.

    For us its always been about being honest with each other and what we need. That has been the cornerstone of how we show love. It can be very vulnerable and challenging at times but I feel much more myself in my relationship with him than I have in any relationship. I feel completely loved and it opens my heart to show him even more of who I am.

    • “but I feel much more myself in my relationship with him than I have in any relationship. I feel completely loved and it opens my heart to show him even more of who I am.”

      Bravo! I feel like I could have written this myself because I feel just the same. It’s pretty awesome if you think about it.

  • Shiri

    Totally honest: he makes me breakfast on the weekends, he does the dishes, he brings me food/drinks/cats when I’m too sick to stand. He does the laundry, he asks me if I’m ok when I can’t admit I’m not, he stands up for me to the people who hurt me when I’ve given up on doing it for myself.

    I cook, but beyond that, I really don’t know what I do that makes him feel loved. I try to tell him I love him every single time I can, and I let him put his big hairy, icky boy feet on mine in bed. I try to always cuddle.

    What made me worry in response to Manya’s piece wasn’t the sense of “what if we’re doing this wrong?”. It was “what if he’s doing this right and I’m doing this wrong?”.

    • I had an inkling of this, too. . .I know for sure that he is happy in our relationship (he wrote me a heartfelt letter for my birthday two months ago) but when I was thinking of how I show him love, I couldn’t think of what little things might speak to him most. So I emailed him the Five Love Languages quiz. And I will remind him at home to complete it.

    • Shiri, I used to worry about this. A lot! (Just as my therapist!) Here are a few things that I think now:

      * Sometimes the things we do that make the other person feel truly loved are so subtle or so second nature to how we operate in the world, that we can’t actually always see what we are contributing. For example, I eventually realized we have great communication in large part because I have helped to build that foundation. That was easy for me, I wasn’t “trying hard” to bring that to our relationship. I was just being myself, so I wasn’t giving myself credit for it! But those lovely moments you described are also just your partner being himself.

      *On that note, my partner once told me he felt a crazy rush of being in love with me and feeling loved…because I was peeling the carrots for a salad in a peculiar way. True story! Sometimes you make someone feel happy in ways you don’t even realize/don’t actually make a lot of sense.

      *I also think it’s important to trust people when they say that they love you & that they feel loved by you. There’s this insidious voice in our heads that says suggests we’re not “good enough” to have this kind of love, and that voice is a liar, and a really destructive one at that. Trust that you are worthy of love and trust that when your partner says he loves you that he means it. His voice is more truthful than that mean little voice in your head.

      *I still sometimes feel like our relationship is unbalanced, that he has all these active ways of showing that he loves me, and I am still a bum about doing the dishes. When all else fails, I just try to never take that for granted. I try to always thank him for the awesome little things he does, and always treat them like special moments, even though (or especially because!), like making dinner, it’s something he does almost every night.

      I guess this is a long-winded way of saying: I think that’s a normal fear , one that actually demonstrates how much you love your partner, so try not to worry; you’re doing alright.

      • Shiri

        “Sometimes you make someone feel happy in ways you don’t even realize/don’t actually make a lot of sense.”

        Yes, yes yes. In my better moments (which I think the above was NOT), I know this to be true. It’s just that he’s so good to me, that I feel like I couldn’t possibly be as good to him as he is to me, you know?

        • It helps me to flip it around, too: I love him for WHO he is, which is the root of what he does. So I have to believe the flip is true too. He’s in love with WHO I am, and what I do is just an extension of that.

        • I do know! I have asked that exact question before. And I think it’s a lovely sentiment, full of gratitude and awe and love. As long as we don’t fall down the self-deprecating rabbit hole, that is. :)

          • Shiri

            Ha ha, yes!

  • We have a million tiny and strange inside jokes. Some of them have been going on so long, we can’t even remember how they started. The family of celebratory voles who lives in his (very curly) hair. The tiny rhinoceros that charges at him. Starting a phone conversation or VM message with, “Hello, it is I, Firstname Lastname, your fiance…” Doing something unflattering and/or weird and following it up with “you’re marrying me” in a squeaky voice…

    We are seriously goofy together. I love our in-jokes. (Though I try to make sure we don’t annoy other people with them.)

    • ItsyBitsy

      “Doing something unflattering and/or weird and following it up with “you’re marrying me” in a squeaky voice…” I love this! We do it, too, and it always makes me giggle & a little giddy. Somehow the silliness of it makes it more real, I think.

      • Yup, a silly, goofy (and loving) “OMG, what are you signing on for?” where we both know that we love each other because of, not just in spite of, many of our quirks.

      • You get to do this post-marriage too!

        My husband will do something weird/goofy/gross/inexplicable (tapping me on my shoulder to get me to turn around, only to then lick my face from chin to scalp comes to mind), and then follow it up with “… REST OF YOUR LIFE!”

    • Amy

      When we do the weird/unflattering thing, we follow up with a long laughing look and “until you’re dead!”. Which is another one to restrict in mixed company, I think…

  • Flitwick

    When I hear the dangerously quiet yet soon to be loud whimpering of a puppy that needs to relieve himself but I had a bruise inducing soccer game just a few hours prior and my fiancé gets up to take him out.

    When he throws my name into popular song lyrics even though its totally weird

  • R.

    He makes the best waffles in the world.

    • Leslie Knope, is that you?

  • Emmers

    He’s nice to me when I have meltdowns and says things like “what have you eaten today?” If I haven’t eaten much (typically a contributing meltdown factor), he offers to bring me a sandwich from Wawa.

    • One More Sara

      OMG WAWA! I miss it so much now that I’ve moved away. I’m going back in 2 weeks and I’m so excited to order a sandwich with a touch screen again.

    • Kate

      I ask my partner “what’ve you eaten today?” all the time! Last Thursday we were running around trying to make my best friend’s birthday happen and I insisted he get a sandwich wrap when we picked up some cheap wine. Though no one should have to play psychic in a relationship, it can be great when you start to anticipate or recognize the needs of your partner and respond accordingly (the wrap came in handy).

  • I have gotten five parking tickets since moving in with R. On Sunday night I got home late and tired and parked in the first available spot I could find. Monday morning R. went to work about an hour before me, and just as I was getting on my bike I noticed my phone. He’d left me five messages in a row, all of them saying, “Move your car! Move your car! I won’t stop calling you til you move your car!”

    I moved my car and I love him all the more for it.

  • thislittleredcat

    In a lot of ways I think my relationship looks a lot like Manya’s. We are a very romantic pair. Lots of cuddling, touching, making out in public, taking care of each other.

    One thing we do differently is that we don’t say “I love you” a lot. My family is all about the L word- it’s a greeting, hello, goodbye. In my hubby’s house, the word love was saved for special occasions, recognition of success or comfort in hard times. In our family, we save the word love for when we are really feeling it. When I look at my partner and am overwhelmed with love, I tell him. When we snuggle close and he feels moved, he tells me. We have a million ways of showing and telling each other we love each other every day, but there is a magic in keeping the word love for special moments. It still thrills me to hear him say it, and I know that every time we tell each other we love each other it comes from a deep place.

  • SarahT

    One of the most loving things my now-husband has ever done happened when we were first engaged. We took 6 of our 8 kids (all teenagers) out for a go-cart/pizza night and we were riding back home in our very crowded, very loud Suburban. The kids were still getting to know each other and were trying to outdo each other in being obnoxious. I was getting irritated and also a little anxious-did he really know what he was getting into? Did I? Were we foolish to even attempt this madness? At that moment he reached over in the dark and just held my hand. It was a moment of pure solidarity, of him showing me he was all in. We’ve had many moments like that since-giving grace to each other and each other’s kids in the messy, sometimes painful process of combining two families. It is usually loud and crazy and often obnoxious. But we are in it together.

  • Love looks a lot like my fiance stepping up to slice the ham at my grandparents’ house when Grandpa was too ill to continue the tradition.

    Random, perhaps, but I got tears in my eyes when I saw my guy with the electric knife. He was chatting with my grandmother. To walk into their house and find him already there, helping in the kitchen and cheerfully laughing with Gram, made my heart explode. After a tough few years for the family, I actually thought, We’re going to be okay.

    And though we’d already been engaged for months with deposits on a dozen wedding vendors, I looked up at him with love and respect and extreme gratitude and thought, “I’m going to marry this man.”

    • I feel a little teary just reading this.

  • KateM

    I have noticed that the expressions of love have changed as our relationship changes. Sometimes I miss some of the things that he did while we were dating or engaged, but I realized that what he does now is really so much more meaningful and appropriate. During my first trimester of pregnancy, he took the garbage out every night, and ran the dishwasher after I went to bed because the smell bothered me. He painted a dresser that I hadn’t gotten to, even though he thought it was silly. He learned how to cook fish a couple different ways so that he could make it for me once a week since it is good for me and the baby. He opens the shades every morning when he gets up because he knows I love to wake up to the sunshine in the room. I married someone way more thoughtful than I am, it can be very humbling. He always remembers when I like something and he will come back later and buy it as a small gift for no reason.
    I have always been incredibly independent, I have learned to let him do things for me because it allows him to express his love for me. I have definitely made the effort to learn his love language as his is not natural to me, and he appreciates that I give him affirmation, even if I don’t do it all the time, but because it doesn’t come naturally to me.

  • Mandy

    Reading the other comments, nothing struck me to be quite so romantic as the way my husband loves me, which I guess just reinforces the idea that I’ve found the right guy!

    Things I love about our love:
    * He accepts and supports my dependence on both chocolate and coffee, neither of which he can personally relate to
    * He insists on calling me beautiful, no matter how rugged and un-lovely I am feeling
    * He doesn’t rise to the energy of a fight when I start getting emotional; this gives me time to gather myself and sort out and pinpoint what has me so kerplunkled in the first place
    * We make up new names for things and new words. They evolve and change out, like how our beagles are regularly called the bagels or the bellies. Within 2 or 3 uses of a new word, it is mutually integrated into our vocabulary.
    * Great sex. Trusting, generous, adventurous sex.
    * We complement each other. Our strengths ebb and flow, and when one of us caves a little under the pressure or stress, the other provides support.
    * When he joined the US Air Force, I moved across the country for him, and found not disappointment or loss, but possibility and adventure
    * I have never doubted his respect for, or loyalty to, myself.
    * I have never doubted my respect for, or loyalty to, him.
    * He shows me songs out of the blue that he thinks I would like. This is a fairly rare behavior, and I never see it coming, but the songs are always sweet, and always good!
    * Before bed, we graze our fingers over each others arms, backs, chests, necks. This tingly, soothing, sweet sensation has been dubbed: Nicies.
    * And once in a while, I even eat fast food with him.

  • Samantha

    The summer I was studying for my Master’s Examinations he made me dinner every night so I could study after work everyday – that was about the most romantic thing he could have done. He once took a plane, a train, a bus and a subway to surprise me in another state, where I was in grad school, and keep me company on the drive home for Christmas. Whenever he leaves (mostly to go to base, Air Force Reservist) he hides little notes throughout the house for me. Sometimes he brings home flowers or plants. He makes dinner still 95% of the time. He does laundry most of the time and cleans. He scratches my legs while we watch TV. We hold hands. We do “Gentlemen’s Agreement” hand shakes like on HIMYM. We kiss and hug and cuddle. I crawl onto his lap and get in his face and kiss him when I feel like getting some attention or making him smile. Lots of back massages and scratches. Lots of sex. I give him hair cuts. I was the dishes whenever he makes dinner and vice versa. We make silly faces, wink at each other, stick out our tongues at each other and talk in weird voices. I sing him ridiculous songs about how great he is and do fancy dances to make him laugh. We do our “bathroom dance” while we get ready for bed, which is just basically the routine that we formed after doing it together for so long. He gets up early to have breakfast with me on the days he doesn’t have to be up and I get up early to make him lunch when he goes to school. And a million other little things.

    This is a great exercise because it is making us each look at what we love about our partners. <3

    • jess

      Loving the Gentleman’s agreement shake!

  • Rachel

    He cooks dinner for me so I can work on my master’s thesis and still have time to hang out with him before bed. He chases our cat around the apartment to make me smile. When we go on road trips, we blast the music and sing along at the top of our lungs and laugh when our voices crack. We hardly ever call each other by our real names, and we can have entire conversations consisting of lines from sitcoms.

  • Katie

    He takes our dog out at 6am EVERY.SINGLE. DAY. I never ever once have had to get up early to take her out. That might be love for our dog, but I’m pretty darn sure it’s really love for me.

    • The only times I have ever had to take out the dog in the morning my husband’s been in another country. Definitely love.

  • Melise

    Being the perfectionist that I am, writing thank you notes after my shower made me extremely anxious. After holding me for a while to calm me down, he wrote out a lovely fill-in-the-blank template for me to follow for the rest of the notes. It wasn’t a huge thing, but it made me feel incredibly loved. Also, he wrote my return address on all of the envelopes.

  • MM

    There are always kisses hello and goodbye, accompanied with an “I love you”. He takes care of our (my) dogs in the morning because he has more time. He comes home from work in the middle of the day for them too. I bake yummy treats for him. He holds my hand whenever we’re in the car. I go to watch his hockey games. He makes sure the dishes get done. I research the hell out of the places we go to find stuff to do, or where to stay. He tries to make me laugh while I’m brushing my teeth, which results in a horrible mess because I have a sonicare toothbrush. We send eachother photos of us with the dogs whenever the other is out of town. He makes sure we have plenty of podcasts to listen to on roadtrips. We fall asleep on eachother every night. We watch awful tv together (and don’t judge eachother for the shows we watch apart).

    I love the every day things because that is what I missed in the 2 years that we were doing the long distance thing.

    • YES: “I love the every day things because that is what I missed in the 2 years that we were doing the long distance thing.”

  • So, I’m like eighty-five percent brain and find having a body really annoying, but my wife is so good at taking care of my physical self, making sure I eat like, meals, and have clothes and don’t live in squalor. She keeps me grounded when I get anxious, and still surprises me into laughter. She is always silly with me. I’m pretty effing lucky.

  • april

    What a romantic morning looks like in our household:

    I snap awake, freezing, because he’s somehow managed to roll himself up in all the covers like a burrito (again). I stumble downstairs, turn on NPR, then make some coffee. I enjoy the first half cup alone (I like having a couple of quiet moments to myself in the morning) then–when I can’t wait for breakfast a second longer– I go back upstairs.

    Me: (in an annoying sing-songy voice) “Time to waaaake uuuup.” Him: (unintligible grumbling). Me: “Come on– I made coffeeee.” Him: (more unintelligible grumbling). Me: (after giving him a quick kiss on the forehead) “Come on, you. Time to get up.”

    Then I go downstairs to finish my first cup of coffee. As I pour my second, he appears in the kitchen, looking dashing in a t-shirt and boxers. After giving me a quick hug, he asks if I want eggs. Of course I do. And if one of the yolks breaks while he’s preparing our sunny-side-ups, he’ll keep that one for himself and give me the ones that set perfectly — he always does :)

  • Love for my fiancee and I looks like me giving her back rubs and cooking for her while she pays the bills and supports me through mental and emotional turbulence.

  • Kara

    My husband cleans out the litter boxes and vacuums (I don’t enjoy vacuuming). He also takes care of things before I get home from work (he gets home from work about an hour before me).

    I take care of the dishes and cook for us. Also, I remind him of friends and family birthdays, anniversarys, and important dates.

    We alternate who takes our 96 lbs German Shepherd out in the morning because neither of us are morning people.

    We say we love each other before we leave, before getting off the phone, and every morning and night.

  • Tea

    Reading this thread gives me a million warm and fuzzy feelings. I love how it is so evident that our relationships are beautiful and non-societally prescribed and quirky and individual and right, and also how many moments of recognition there are between us. So much smiling over here.

  • amy

    Love is dancing to Blind Melon’s no rain after a long frustrating day of work.

  • This is the sweetest open thread I’ve ever read. I love APW for encouraging us to brag about the good. And I love that there is so much good!

    My husband shows me that he loves me in a thousand different ways:

    Because dirty dishes absolutely disgust me, he wrote it into his wedding vows that he’d always wash the dishes. And he does.

    We have our own language, like a lot of other couples, and recently we’ve begun communicating in weird little noises like bats. We’re so bizarre but I love it.

    He fills up the car when it needs it, and brings me my medicine in bed when I’ve forgotten it for the day. He takes care of all of our money stuff, paying bills and starting a retirement plan and paying off student loans so that I don’t have to think about any of those dumb details. We say I love you all the time: happy, sad, in the middle of a fight, in the middle of having sex, and always always before we fall asleep or one of us leaves the house. We just think of each other in every day things, whether it’s refilling each other’s water bottle or folding the other one’s pants on the floor. As much as I love the long love letters when I get them, I’m embracing all of the little things he does for me too, because that’s the stuff that means the most to him.

  • ali s

    We are in love because:
    He lets me call him Marker in front of other people
    After proposing 3 days before my grandfather passed away, he was a pallbearer at the funeral
    He does the dishes
    Our first dance song is a secret until the reception
    we have a special spot on each other’s face to kiss when we’re feeling particularly lovey
    I wake up with him in the morning to make sure he has his lunch, even though he gets up hours before me
    We lost the booklet from our priest where you pick all the readings and prayers, and both have just decided it’s funny and we’re totally avoiding asking for a new one

  • Claire

    I really like these open threads, and this is my favorite one yet. It’s so uplifting (and rare) to just share the good in our relationships.

    He rearranges his life so my nieces can spend the summers with us.

    Sometimes when he cooks for me, he has me sit in the womb chair in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine or a cocktail, so I can just relax and talk with him while he makes dinner.

    He very generously and patiently shares my time and attention with my family when we visit my hometown and encourages me to spend time with others without him.

    He welcomed my brother to come live with us and put up with his constant presence during his long period of unemployment.

    He cleans up the dog’s puke without hassling me about it.

    And so much more…

  • He looks for the Annie’s White Cheddar Mac & Cheese that I like so much every time we are at the grocery store, even though they seem to have stopped carrying it.
    And then the last time he made a Target trip, he brought home two boxes.

  • jobonga

    Last night I fell asleep on the couch and when he came to wake me up I startled and drooled a HUGE drool and he laughed and said he loved me and kissed me on the head.

  • jules

    Being in love means that he joined me at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival just because he wanted to spend the day with me, even though he has absolutely no interest in anything related to knitting or crochet. And he didn’t complain, huff, look annoyed or ANYTHING. Such a sweetheart!

    • jess

      Hahahahahahahaha! YES, just for Rhinebeck!

      My guy has no interest in actual learning to knit, but as a programmer/guy who likes to know how things work, hes fascinated by how I make yarn do different things.

      He also got me a swift for Christmas. It was the BEST!

    • Hintzy


      and the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival is awesome… just sayin :)

  • My G builds things for me. He tore down and rebuilt our kitchen. He is now rebuilding our deck and our back fence, and he acknowledges that me standing there holding the measuring tape is actually help. Further, he is super thankful when I make dinner and just as thankful when I don’t and he suggests ordering pizza.
    Every morning, I wake up before him, make coffee and usually bring it to him in bed. He told his co-workers that this was the most amazing, wonderful thing ever. There is something extra awesome about knowing that he announces how awesome I am to his friends.

  • Rebekah

    I’m going to post my comment before even reading the others, because I know they’ll make me cry at work and also because I want to go through and be made aware of all the beautiful ways others have love uniquely, without thinking “Oh yeah, well we do that” or “Oh no! We never do that.”

    My SO is not a verbal person. He’s very much of the mindset that “If I say it once, it’s true until I say it’s not anymore,” so we don’t exchange I Love You’s all that often.

    However. We make each other laugh all the time, mostly by being ridiculous, but also by being funny. We are not humble in private and often mention how one or both of us is awesome. Sometimes he will do all the dishes for me while I’m at work. I make sure to thank him. Every so often he mentions how lucky he is. The other day he said, after his roommate had a fight with his fiancee, “You know you’re the only one for me” because he was concerned that the fight made me worry about our status. Silly guy.

    If we’re apart for a few days he makes sure to call me, sends me emails with links he thinks are interesting, always kisses me goodbye.

    We have also developed a unique and not-for-public celebration of a certain outcome of a certain sporting event.

    Some days when we’re particularly busy or distracted, I’ll climb on his bed and request 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to just be together, and he gives it to me.

    He knows I love him because I tell him, make him laugh, buy groceries (and other things I notice would be beneficial, like curtains or a new belt or a bigger trash can), cook (which I love), clean up (because my standards are different than his), buy cards for birthdays/holidays for him to send, give impromptu backrubs, and pepper him with spontaneous thoughts/questions about our future.

    My primary Love Language is Time, and his is Acts of Service. It’s not always easy, but we sure are happy.

    • Rebekah

      I forgot: Traffic really stresses me out, so he talks to me to divert all my emotional attention when we have to go places in rush hour.

  • marbella

    He cleans the kitchen without being asked and carries our massive overflowing tub of laundry down the stairs for me.
    He folds the clean laundry because I hate hate hate it.
    He will figure out how to fix anything.
    He walks the pup on his own without complaint when my hips/back are hurting and or I am too lazy to go.
    He goes to lunch with me or we have car picnics.
    He fills my hot water bottle when my back hurts/the dreaded cramps arrive.
    He built me a beautiful dining table for our patio.
    He helps me with all math problems and spreadsheets, and only laughs a little bit at the very un-mathematical way I solve problems.
    He no longer eats lasagne (his favourite food) in restaurants because he says it’s too disappointing that every one is inferior to mine.
    He encourages me to take care of myself.
    He catches any errant crane flies that come inside to attack me.
    He always holds my hand.
    He lets me put my freezing cold feet on him.
    He asks my opinion on things and always treats me as an equal.
    He supports me running my own business and encourages me in it.

  • jess

    I feel like my partner and I have a very solid grasp on what love and romance feels like to us. It’s communicating it to others that seems to be the problem. A long time mutual friend/coworker of our asked for our proposal story. It involved a bar, being a teensy bit too drunk, deciding we should sober up a bit, me telling him kneeling and asking wasn’t a thing cause we were deciding together, place holder rings for both of us (the one I was wearing on another finger for me and a piece of a faucet for him) and taking a few pictures of ourselves while our friends fell over each other drunk on the other side of the bar. She had started her questioning by asking if our story was romantic, and about halfway through my retelling, cut me off in an almost pitying way and says “That’s not romantic!” No matter how much I tried to convince her that yes, in fact, it was, simply because it was with the guy I love and love to be with, and now I get to be with him forever?! How can that *not* be romantic.

    My day is filled with so many hugs and kisses and silly faces and texts…and more silly faces…lots of those…that its very easy to know what love feels like day to day. So this is all my very long winded way of saying, I agree with the comment that prompted this thread. I love that my life doesn’t have to look like a rom-com to know that I and feel loved.

  • Celina

    It was my turn to cook dinner last night, but I also had to prepare for a meeting that I had today. He was at home most of the day yesterday, cleaning and grooming himself so he was tired. I asked him what he wanted for dinner and he said Shrimp Etouffee. I really wasn’t in the mood to cook it, as it is more labor intensive than I had the time or energy to deal with. I told him that I would do it but he offered to peel the shrimp for me. I was in the office working while he was peeling the shrimp. After a while, I forgot that I was even supposed to be cooking. When I remembered, I went to the kitchen to discover that he was cooking the entire dish. Thanks sweetie! It was delicious!

  • sara p

    He warms me up every night when I get in bed, no matter how cold I am.
    We discovered early on that we both had loved “The Emperor’s New Groove” as kids, and speak squirrel at each other for fun.
    He runs with me, even though I am super slow and he’s pretty fast.

    I cook and try to clean better/more because that’s important to him. I’m learning not to yell (really hard!!) when I’m mad. We talk about the future when I pester him enough (living together, not engaged, in talks…).

    • Rebekah

      You owe me a new acorn.
      Squeak squeak squeak, squeak squeaker squeaken.

  • Lea

    When you think about it, everything we do to maintain our life together– all the way down to remembering to buy the toilet paper– is an act of love. For me, it’s all about communicating that to each other. Saying things like, “I got the kind of froyo you like, even though I hate it, because I thought it would make you happy.” or, “The reason I’m over here clipping coupons is for our future house and future kids and future life.” There is almost always a huge loving gesture behind even the most basic tasks, because performing those tasks means you are participating in your shared life, showing up for your relationship. We should recognize that.

    Coupons? Totally give me warm fuzzies.

    • Tea

      “There is almost always a huge loving gesture behind even the most basic tasks, because performing those tasks means you are participating in your shared life, showing up for your relationship.”

      Just beautiful.

      PS We are not couponers, but we’ve been working on cutting down on our grocery bill, and I too find it pretty darn sexy. It says, hey you, I want to save up for the life we’re building together.

  • This thread gives me a happy, particularly when I’m missing my dude.

    – moving to a country he doesn’t really love to be with me all the time

    – Staying in a job I hate to be able to provide financial sponsorship for him

    – never saying anything bad about my driving WHILE I’m driving, because he knows it just stresses me out

    – gladly giving up my quiet Sunday mornings to the soccer

    – taking me to my favorite restaurants and bringing me tea (and ocassionally champagne!) in bed

    – getting up early and ducking out to get him breakfast tacos, his favorite food

    – always holding hands, even when we’re talking to different people
    – always catching each other’s eye from across the room
    – texting each other nice things when we’ve had bad days

  • jess

    What our love looks like: In jokes that make us smile butwe have nooooo idea where they came from anymore….they’re just like we’re speaking our own language of noises, all referencing something in our history.

    This one is super weird, but we make the WOMM-WOMM-WOMM dubstep bass sound whenever we switch positions. We either do it when we are already switching sides (like if we’re walking down the street and he’s holding my left hand and I want or need him to hold my right) or we use it to indicate that we would like to switch. Also applies to crawling over each other on the couch, rolling over each other on the bed to reach the phone charger, etc.

    So yeah, no idea where that came from anymore. We think it had something to do with “dropping the bass” being similar to “dropping back” so the other could cross in front? But it always makes me smile, knowing that even something as regular as walking can be silly and fun when it’s us.

  • YetAnotherMegan

    If I have a dish set aside that needs to go to the kitchen, he’ll just pick it up and take it for me without saying a word.

    He will spontaneously reach over and start rubbing my neck. I’m trying to remember to return the favor more.

    On mornings that he needs an extra boost to get up, I’ll get out of bed and open the curtains, refusing to get sucked into his cuddling for too long so that he’s not late.

    When we’re in a playful mood, one of us will ask the other a variation of, “you still plan on marrying me right?” Depending on the situation, the answer may vary from a simple yes to a “I’ll consider it,” followed by giggles and hugs and kisses.

    He knows what chocolate I like, and will sometimes surprise me with it, even if he’s not in the mood for chocolate.

    I’ve lost track of how much time I’ve spent at the copy & print desk of a certain office supply store picking up supplies for his cds and then assembling them with him.

    He puts up with my shows. I put up with the fact that our second bedroom is a music studio.

    He doesn’t know this yet, but I just ordered 2 pounds of coffee from his favorite coffee shop back home for his birthday.

    My parents come to visit – a lot. He doesn’t complain and helps me get the apartment ready.

    He listens to me rant when my mom drives me batty. And my aunts. And my family in general.

    It’s become a running joke that when one of us doesn’t understand what the other said, the response is “I love you, too”.

  • C R

    Just have to say that this is a lovely thread — so many wonderful ways of seeing love in the big and small ways :)

    I could write a huge long list here — but I’ll just say that, as I’m laying here recovering after knee surgery, my fiancé has shown me a whole new side of his love for me in the last few days. From holding my hand when I was sick from the anesthesia to doing a late night run to Target for another ice pack (and other, far more embarrassing items), from setting up my kitchen and bathroom so I can cook and shower on my own (since I’m on crutches for the next month and he lives 2 hours away) to sitting on the floor with me while I do my exercises (and have a meltdown about how the hell I’m going to move, change jobs, and finish wedding prep in the next month while on crutches), he has been just wonderful. He’s always amazing — but these last few days have really made me feel like we’re truly ready to take on life together as a team :)

  • Brandi

    He makes the coffee everyday, and brings me a cup so it’s ready for me when the wee one is done nursing.

    We roar at each other for encouragement and support. It helps more than expected.

    We have made up words, it feels special to splurp on the couch with him.

    He thanks for me dinner every night, I thank him for doing the dishes.

    He’s leaving work early to tonight and is stopping by the store to pick up something he will cook for dinner because I had asked what he wanted. He wants to give me a break this evening.

    He’s very encouraging of the band I am in. We suck, but he loves it anyway. I love him for that.

    Sometimes, him expressing how much he loves our child bowls me over with love for him. He’s an amazing father, and the deepening of our connection that came from having a baby still surprises me.

    He makes me laugh until I cry (quite an ugly cry) randomly, or he makes it his mission if I’m having a rough day. It always works.

    I try my hardest to live up to the partner he deserves. I apologize when I can’t. He does the same.

  • KeriLouise


    Sweet Fella holds my hand when we fall asleep, picks up books he thinks I’ll find interesting on the regular, makes the bed just because he knows I like it made and constantly reminds me to adventure (even when it’s inconvenient or raining).

    I buy Mother’s Day cards for both of our Moms, leave silly/fun/love notes around the house, promise not to get rid of his (god-awful) armchair while he’s away and sing in the church choir because it’s another way to spend time sitting near him.

  • Not Sarah

    I’m happily single, but I just had to say that reading through all of these posts has really made me smile today. Thank you all for sharing your little bits of good!!

  • Brittany Alexander

    He takes me to work in the mornings he has off at 6:30 so I don’t have to ride the bus.

    He always brings me new flowers when the ones I have are starting to wilt, so as to never have an empty vase. And every time says “pretty flowers for a pretty lady!”. I blush and grin every single time!

  • Love in my relationship looks like:

    – footrubs just because we’re sitting together on the couch
    – he’s teaching me how to drive
    – kissing “quick like a bunny” at stoplights
    – coffee/tea delivery when I’m still in bed and when he’s at work
    – doing our separate hobbies together in the same space
    – falling in love with the same motorsport
    – I clean the kitty litter and feed the cats, because they make him angry
    – he feeds the dog, because his food is nasty
    – snuggles every night in bed
    – a joint favourite place to get busy
    – he eats vegetarian meals when I want, I learned to cook venison for him
    – burping and farting. because it’s so gross but it’s part of our private dialogue.
    – he brags about me to his friends
    – he never asks if I’m on my period if I’m flipping out, even when he’s thinking it. but he tells me the next day that he was thinking it and he’s always right. (the man knows my hormones well!)

  • Meghan

    When my cat sprained one of her hind legs this weekend, he carried everywhere she might want to go that morning; to her food dish, to the box, to my lap. He even set up a comfy little box nest for her on the ground so she wouldn’t need to try and jump up on the couch. He’s a true-blue dog person, so every time he does something special or affectionate for her he’s doing it for me.

    He makes breakfast for me every. single. weekend. morning. He knows my special “weekend mug” (the big Seattle Seahawks one!) and exactly how I take my tea.

  • sarahmrose

    1. He gets me chocolate when I am sad (70% cacao, obviously) and I add milk to his tea.

    2. We are allowed to ask what the other one is thinking — no matter the mood or the situation — and the other person will answer honestly.

    3. When we are driving, I have a tendency to yell greetings or commentary at people/animals, and he has taken to doing this too. We pass Highland cows every day on our way into town, and every day one or the other says “GOOD MORNING SHAGGY COWS!” I suppose this might not sound like an example of being loving towards each other…but it is for us. That and he notifies me if there are any baby foals or calves in the vicinity so I can properly squeal.

    4. I make sure we both take care of our teeth; he makes sure we both work out.

    5. He moved to the U.S. and then to France for my studies; I moved with him back to his home country when he was unhappy there.

    Love this thread, so much. It is so heartwarming to read about all the different ways people express and experience love.

    • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

      Your #4 makes me feel better about my constant, “Have you brushed your teeth?” Also, my “have you used your neti pot?” when he starts complaining about being stuffed up.

      I like you better when you’re healthy. I like me better when I’m healthy too.

    • amaranth16

      Very very late to this party, but I just had to say: “GOOD MORNING SHAGGY COWS!” makes me so happy!

  • Zoo

    Today, love looked like this on Google chat:

    Me: Gah! Stress. Too many projects.
    Him: I think you need a break. Why don’t you stay home and relax tonight?
    Me: Ok, I guess you’re right. Thank you for being so supportive.
    Him: You’re welcome. It’s about half of what I want to do with my life.

  • Katy

    My fiance is an officer on a ship, which means that he is gone for 4 months at a time. We have been together over 4 years, and in that time, there have only been 2 days that I have not heard from him (sometimes the satellite email goes down). He works 7 days a week, 14 hours a day, and often gets woken up in the middle of the night to work some more. Despite all that, I get an “i love you” every. single. day. Even though he’s gone a lot, he loves me and makes time for me, and that is enough.

    • My family is a fishing/boat family, and this just made me “awww” out loud.

  • Last night, our love looked like him leaving work at 6 even though he’s behind on patient notes because he knows I’m home alone a lot these days and me telling him how much I appreciate that, but don’t want him to feel guilty for doing his job. This morning he pulled the covers up over me before he left and I waited until he was gone to kick them back off because it had been really sweet of him, but I was roasting! He’ll reach over and pull me close during the night, make me coffee if he’s up first on weekends even though he doesn’t drink it, and make the chicken piccata that’s my favorite. I’m working on upping my spiciness tolerance so we can share more food without it having to be so much more mild than he likes it. I never, ever complain or give him a hard time about deploying because while I know he doesn’t like being away from me, I know he loves doing his job. I tell him in private how much I respect and admire how hard he works and all that he’s accomplished since he would hate it if I did this in front of people. He brags about my writing and has pulled up specific blog posts on his phone to make people read them. He takes the time to talk to my little nieces with me on Skype because they think he’s hilarious. I make the bed because he likes it done, even though I think it’s completely pointless. He texts me when he lands so I know he’s not in a fiery grave. I make his overnight oats every night when I make mine. We fist bump and say “Go team.” when we accomplish something together. We always say thank you for the small household tasks, for meeting each other’s friends, for going places together. I still thank him for dinner when we go out, even though the money comes from the same place no matter who pays, and he still thanks me for going with him. It’s a little thing that makes it feel like we’re still dating.

    • k

      I make the bed because he likes it done, even though I think it’s completely pointless.


  • I do all the laundry because he hates matching socks.
    When my car breaks down, he rearranges his schedule to get me to work.
    He somehow finds me attractive at 38 weeks pregnant.

    I make a request for something I need from him, and then I wait for it, silently stewing, imagining what I’ll say to him if he doesn’t follow through, how pissed I’ll be if he doesn’t help me in this one little way, and then just before I go off, HE DOES IT, and he does it so perfectly that I realize AGAIN how silly I was to doubt him for a second.

  • ItsyBitsy

    I have a huge (read: 70+ people) family on my dad’s side who I’m close with and see at least once a year. At the first family gathering I brought him to, my he walked off on his own to get to know my people. Back when we were “only” dating! He also seems to have made it a life goal to learn everyone’s name & relation without having to ask, which is quite a feat.

    He learned (through trial and error) the best ways to help me calm down when I get scared/sad/upset.

    He laughs it off when I turn into a really annoying backseat driver.

    He doesn’t judge me for loving really terrible TV.

    The first night in a new apartment after we moved across the country I was nervous and homesick. He’d anticipated this and surprised me with a muppet doll from the most recent muppet movie because he knew it had made me so damn happy. I love that he knows what kind of dork I am and it feels awesome to know that he loves me for it.

  • My husband is not a big vegetable lover (he would be fine just living on meat and potatoes forever). When he buys me broccoli at the grocery store it makes me feel SO loved because I know he’s done it out of love for me (and how much he knows I love veggies).

    Sometimes we look at each other and just say “Thank you for loving me.” Those words remind me of all of the ways we care for each other day in and day out and that we both see and feel those things.

    He tells me he is proud of me and the work I do.

    He listens as I tell dramatic stories about my students and their antics (I’m a teacher).

    Morning snuggles

    He sings loud, crazy opera songs to me when he knows I need to be cheered up.

    He tells me how much he misses my family too (we live in his home country).

    Slow dancing in our living room while the pub next door to our apartment blares salsa music

    He cares the heavy grocery bags up three flights of stairs

    He sends me text messages that simply say, “Xoxo your husband”

  • Caroline

    He always cleans up the cat vomit, even when the cat has a hairball at yaks at 3:30 am multiple nights in a row, because he knows it makes me sick, and wants to spare me the gagging.

    He moved halfway across the country to a city where he knew no one but me and my parents with nothing more than a suitcase and the clothes on his back, without a job lined up yet, to be with me. It hasn’t always been smooth (especially career-wise, we’ve had our ups and downs), but it’s been so much better together. And what courage that took, at the age of 22, never having lived apart from his parents, to move here with nothing.

    He brings me flowers sometimes just because he hasn’t gotten me flowers in a while.

    He sets the table for shabbat every day he’s home before I am.

    He does shabbat with me, and comes to services when I’m leading services, and at holidays, even though he really hates religious services and religion. (He even kind of likes shabbat as a family ritual, although coming to services is purely because it makes me happy to have him a part of my community a little more, and to have him there when I’m leading.)

    Likewise, he’s agreed to raise our kids Jewish.

    We spoon every night, and kiss in the morning and the evening at least.

    We have our own whole silly language and stories and inside jokes.

    He pokes my belly, with a big grin on his face (it’s one of those inside jokes).

    He buys me my favorite chocolate.

    He tells me I’m beautiful and gorgeous, often when I’m feeling my most frumpy.

    He’s so excited to have children with me.

    He is even more excited than I am about my birthday in a few days.

    He always wants to hold hands or link arms when we walk.

  • I’m late to the party! (Or perhaps early to it, since I wrote the original (and surprisingly controversial) How to Be in Love post. I LOVE THIS so so much! This is exactly what I was picturing when I wrote my piece–all of those special little specific somethings that warm our hearts up and make us feel seen, known, and so loved.

    I have two more to add:

    1. I hate filling in forms. My life is filled with filling in forms for shit and I have baggage around it because my ex-husband used to fill in ZERO forms. We would go to the airport and I would literally fill in 8 forms–2 for each of the people in the family while struggling with two small children and carrying tons of bags. Brian always fills in the forms for me. He travels a lot, and when he goes to the airport he picks up extra entry and exit forms. Before I go on trips, he fills one of each in for me and tucks it into my passport, ready to go. He also gets online to do early check in for me, and finds me the absolute best seat on the plane.

    2. The week before our wedding I got my finger bitten by a baby elephant (long story) and it got dislocated and crushed. I was the only one who knew how to drive a stick shift on the left side of the road, and so I had to drive my entire family across town to the restaurant where we were having a pre-wedding event. Brian showed up at the restaurant with ice, ibuprofen, disinfectant, wrapping tape and popsicle sticks to bind it. But the truly sweet thing was that he also brought me my favorite jeans and a comfy sweater and shoes to change into. I was wearing something cute, but uncomfortable and he knew that if I was in bad pain I would want to be comfortable. Just writing about it brings tears to my eyes.

    This is a wonderful, wonderful thread. I will bookmark it and savor!

  • This is all so sweet to read!

    We show love in different ways, simply because our schedules are different…

    I tend to do the buying of food and cooking, so I always buy him his favorite chocolate and make him dinner. It’s “traditional,” I guess, but I love knowing he’s coming home from work to a hot meal.

    I have a habit of leaving things open, all the time. He goes around closing all my toothpaste tubes, tupperware, etc.

    I also love how we support and help each other with work things–writing emails, drafting responses to people. And when we accomplish something, we always high five!

    I also make him lunch every day, which I love, because I know he’s getting a healthy lunch and I always put a piece of his favorite chocolate in it.

    More than all that though, is the love he shows for my family. He adore my grandparents and would do anything for them, and for that my heart swells.

    • When we moved in together, we lived in an apartment and I always cooked because he worked longer hours. One day he said, “You know what makes me happy? When I come up the stairs, it always smells good and that smell is always coming from our apartment.” More than enough reason not to worry about being too traditional!

  • Lib

    I’m a little late, but I still want to say (type) this out loud.

    We do many of the things Manya listed, so I identified with her post a lot.

    Specifically, I knew I loved him because I trusted him almost immediately, instinctively and I have a very hard time trusting.

    He brings me flowers for no reason, and for special events. He calls me beautiful and sexy even when I am a hot mess or doing something unflattering, and he means it. He tries to help ease my work and life stress. He listens when I tell him “that’s not how to help me,” and he adjusts his support tactics accordingly. He listens actively when I rant, whether about the world or my needs. He responds appropriately. He is silly as hell, but only with me.

    We cook each other dinner, and pack each other lunch every day. We clean up together. We always kiss hello, goodbye, good morning, etc. and say ‘I love you’ a million times a day. We can always tell when one of us has something on their mind that they don’t want to talk about and either give them time to process or weasel it out of them, depending on the situation. We teach each other about our passions, and try new things together. We work out together. We have evolving pet names. We snuggle and spoon constantly. We talk about every single thing and keep no secrets.

    I write him notes or cards occasionally to express my feelings (I am by far the less emotional one). I go to all of his gigs. I listen to music he loves and while he explains the unique genius of particular obscure artists. I let him help me with things, even though I am fiercely independent. I am standing up to my parents because it is important to him.

  • StillSmiling

    Me moving across the country to be with him. Him working so hard to make this new city home for us.

    Him putting his hand on my knee while he drives. Me kissing the top of his head whenever I walk by him while he works in the living room.

    Me making up silly songs that narrate our life (“It’s Saturday, and we’re waaa-aaalking the dog!”) and him always laughing and kissing me in response.

    Him working so hard on our wedding, even though his job is super stressful and busy, because he knows it’s really important that this be *our* wedding. Me trying hard to make sure our planning takes into account his introverted-non-center-of-attention-loving personality.

    Us delighting in our adventures together, even if that adventure is as simple as going to the grocery store. Us enjoying our city and our senses of humor and our shared interests in every way possible. Us brainstorming lesson plans together (we’re both teachers). Us team-working this life that is us. Us being us.

    • Yes, finally! I’m not the only one who makes up silly songs to narrate our lives! After all, life is a musical. (At least, that’s what I tell him when he rolls his eyes goofily at me while I’m song-and-dance shuffling through the frozen foods section of the grocery store.)

      • Katelyn

        Thank you! My hubby always gets mildly embarrassed by my tap dancing in the aisles. I can’t imagine why. I mean, if I don’t have a problem making a fool out of myself in front of the grocery store clerks, why should he? :)

  • RachaelRei

    For years, before we moved in together, every single morning he would text me a long message about how much he loved me on his way to work. Now we live together, I work out of my home office, and we are getting married in 45 days. He kisses me every morning before he leaves and tells me to have a great day.

  • js

    For the longest time, I thought my husband could never know the mysterious, complicated woman I am. Then, recently, we were both drunk at his brother A’s house and I started talking about how I was still embarrassed at the way my first meeting with A had gone, seven years ago. His brother had moved him in with me and I had gotten drunk, ended up sobbing about his mother (who was taking his move from MI to WI very hard and being very mean to me) in the hallway of the hotel where A was staying, then passed out on the floor. My husband said, “..Now that I know her, I know that was all really about me moving in with her.” I sat there, stunned. Until then, I may not have even realized that was what it was about myself.

    My whole life I have only ever wanted someone who cared enough to want to know me. Who would know that my emotional outbursts and our arguments have nothing to do with whatever it is we are currently fighting about. That I was not so complicated or mysterious after all.

    “I know her.” To me, that is the most romantic statement in the world, and because he knows me, he knows how I want to be loved. I am more in love with him now, then I was on the day he moved in, seven years ago. I was crazy in love with him this weekend, when he put on a sombrero and a fake mustache and let me call him Pedro for our daughter’s Cinco de Mayo birthday party. I was in love with him this morning when I picked out his clothes (yes, he can do it himself. But he likes it when I do and I like knowing what underwear he has on under his conservative clothes. Hehe.) I will be trying to show him how much I love that he knows me for the rest of my life.

  • Somehow, suddenly topical:

  • Alexa

    -We eat dinner together whenever we can (this means a lot to me in particular) and marathon tv shows together (taking turns with the recommendations).
    -We talk through (work/math/programming) problems with each other.
    -We argue passionately about random meaningless things (like if we are closer to a whole number or whole number and a half years away from our not actually specified anniversary) and calmly, patiently talk out any and all actual problems/concerns.
    -We buy one another treats (his favorite is ChocoTacos) when we go grocery shopping.

    Recently we were at a friends birthday with a lot of people we didn’t know. At one point in the night someone asked, “Oh, are you two together?”
    My husband presented the back of his left hand (in Beyonce/Single Ladies style) and said, “Yeah. Permanently.”

    (Also, he rolled with me on the ridiculousness that our vows became, which I think says a lot about us and our relationship. It’s a long story, but I explained it in my OBB post

  • Hintzy

    Reading through this thread is so great, so many different responses – many of them along the same veins, but different, happy happy stuff :)

    There are too many things for me to write here – just way too many – so I’ll offer a few memories in no particular order as they have appeared in my head while reading

    Last night I was begrudingly finishing the laundry, dreading putting away the clothes I had put on the bed earlier, determined not to have a floordrobe for the next week, (and kinda certain that as I was moving the loads around he had already pushed the clothes onto the floor to make room for sleeping) and when I came back into the room he was neatly folding stuff and had most of the clothes put away already. I mentally ate crow, and loved him for it.

    He’ll immitate Stitch from the Disney movie to make me smile, because we watched it together on the long flight home from Germany where we first met on a high school exchange program. it works every time.

    I drive any time we’re covering any particularly long distance, because he gets antsy in the drivers seat and hates tunnels and bridges. I wash the dishes because I have steady hands and he is afraid he’ll drop something and break it. He takes out the trash because it doesn’t squick him out, and mows the part of the lawn that’s on a hill because I have trouble pushing the mower. we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

    I suppose that’s really the biggest thing for me, we know (and continue to learn) each other’s strengths and weaknesses – and we use that knowledge to help each other out. It’s great… and now I’m a bit verklempt in my cubicle.

    • Rebekah

      Floordrobe. I love it. That will now be part of my vocabulary.

    • “I suppose that’s really the biggest thing for me, we know (and continue to learn) each other’s strengths and weaknesses – and we use that knowledge to help each other out.”

      I don’t know that I ever could have articulated that, but YES. THAT. So, so important.

  • I was in a similar vein of thought when I read “How To Be In Love” and the follow-up post. I was like, “Well… we don’t look like EITHER of those. That’s okay… right? Right?!?!” Hah. And of course it is! But, yes, for us, “being in love” looks much different than the traditional Rom Com. Thank GOD.

    For instance…

    He listens to me read articles offline that I found interesting that day, or snippets of/entire blog posts that I’ve written that day to explain “how I’m feeling”.

    He chooses an anime/tv series he thinks I’ll like, and we watch at least one episode together every night when he gets home from work.

    I stand behind his computer chair and rub his neck and back as he reads me science articles, Cracked articles, and xkcd cartoons.

    I make the bed every day because it’s just not something he sees.

    He takes me to the grocery store every week and buys me what I need.

    He doesn’t let me lift my walker out of the trunk bed, or carry/lift things that are heavier than I am “supposed to”.

    I draw him silly cartoons and leave them in his truck handle to find on the way to work.

    He smooshes my face together with his GIANT hands and calls me his little scrunchkin.

    I listen to all the explanations behind his tabletop RPG exploits and the homebrew system he’s developing, asking questions when appropriate.

    Different, but… we love each other. Madly.

    Also, sex.

  • Hannah

    Once David visited me at college and I had terrible menstrual cramps. We took a picnic blanket to a nearby park and laid down and he rubbed my stomach for a few hours. We were already engaged at the time but I think that’s when I *knew*. <3

  • Sara

    Even though we have a difference of opinion on the subject, he remembers that I think dessert is always spoon food, not fork food. He serves it with the right utensil every time.

  • Jennifer

    He cleans the cat poop for me because he knows I don’t like to do it. He walks with me to class in the morning even though he doesn’t have class until the afternoon. He cooks dinner when I’m busy with work or school and I do the same for him. When he is really stressed out and can’t sleep, I talk him off the ledge and tell him he’s awesome. We talk in muppet voices to each other and my cat loves him. He edits my essays for me even though I do not take criticism well and I get up early to make him coffee when he has been up all night doing homework.

  • Heather

    I think my partner and I Have learned over the last six years- different ways to give each other the love we need- learning and adapting together is what we r most proud of. 
    My hubby to be:
    Cooks for me. Healthy well balanced delicious meals. I am working full time while in grad school and if it wasn’t for him I would probably be eating cereal and ravioli everyday. 
    We leave each other notes on the bathroom mirror and in books we each are reading to remind each other how much we care. 
    He usually gets home from work before I do and when he hears me coming up the stairs – I always hear him call out to our dog- yay ur mama is home, lets go say hi! Makes me smile every time
    I tell him on a regular basis that he is the perfect end to a long day. 
    I fold his socks when I am putting away his laundry cause he generally misses the bus looking for a match. 
    I also wash his fruit and pack his lunches. 
    Ok I have one more thing that he does that I absolutely love- B/c I started having to go to bed before him during the semester. He started this tradition of tucking me in at night so we still have a chance to say good nite to each other.

    He whispers in my ear when we r in public and rubs the small of my back- it makes me giggle like when we were first dating.  

  • Nicole

    Recently love looked like my fiancé stopping in the middle of the desert on our way home from vacation to dance. We had recently talked about the fact that in the year plus we’ve known each other, we had never danced together. So off the 15 freeway with cars whizzing by, we danced to Maxwell’s “Stop the World.” It was perfect.

  • Hope

    When we drive to work in the morning I give my husband lotion for his dry hands. He takes off his wedding ring while he puts the lotion on and I hold the ring on my thumb. When he’s done I put his wedding ring back on his ring finger and he says “I do” and I say “Me too!”
    We have so many of these little routines but this one reminds me that we choose each other every day.

  • Sam

    When in the morning, standing in the closet, staring at the overflowing laundry pile I sigh, ‘I REALLY needed to do laundry last night,’ and he replies, ‘Put together a basket and I will do it for you,’ look at him and say a heartfelt thank you.
    And he calls me his favorite.

  • Catcat

    My now-husband and I met in grad school. I loved taking photos of our ridiculous grad school parties with my huge DSLR but I didn’t have money to buy extra memory so I was always having to either delete photos or only take a few at a time. One day I went to my folder to get my school mail and found an envelope with a memory card and a sticky note: “I like the pictures you take. Now you can take more pictures. Love, Me.” I still have the sticky note.

  • Kate

    I love love this thread! I’m currently on my honeymoon two weeks into my marriage (but have been together nearly nine years and lived together for seven years, so have accrued a fair amount of the fabulous examples already shown. Am reading examples out to him whilst we’re watching the tropical rainfall :-) (and he is teasing me, calling me soppy!)

    In addition to all the stupidly brilliant stuff he usually does (copious coffees, spider removal, lots and lots of hand holding, telling me I am beautiful when I’m insanely hungover, leaving a trail of mini eggs from our door leading to a bubble bath after a hard day at work) there’s one thing that sticks out in particular.

    About six weeks ago, I went to pick up my wedding dress with my Mum and it was all a bit fraught and I had to go stay over at a friend’s place straight after. I must’ve looked pretty frazzled. He took one look at me and just held me for a really long time. I felt better straight away. I realised he had a way of understanding and comforting me in a way that no one else could.

  • Kimberly

    My husband kisses me every morning before he goes to work, even when I’m being extra lazy and sleeping in.
    He lets me be extra lazy and doesn’t make a big deal if he comes home and the kids are in PJs and I didn’t do the dishes or much of anything.
    He emails me pictures of the baby with his eyebrows (super bushy) and him with my eyebrows (barely there).
    He forced me out of my self-imposed withdrawal from society after I lost my job and got me to volunteer with an awesome non-profit, which has given me hope for my future as well as an improved resume.
    He does the dishes after a long day at work.
    He let me keep the pregnant stray that I found even though he’s allergic and is a dog person.

    I stay home with the kids, cook his favorite meals, listen to him talk about silver and politics that I don’t always agree with, buy him little gifts and always tell him how much I love him and how very sexy he is.

    In short, I think he understand me like no one else and vice versa.

  • Katelyn

    I let him drive my car because he enjoys it / he drives because I hate to.
    I always reassure his wardrobe choices because he is insecure / he lets me approve his clothes so he knows he’s wearing something I like.
    He has taken to making the extra effort to greet me (i.e. rise and say a proper hello or even kiss) because I made a small stink about it.
    I will sometimes be the “little spoon”.
    We indulge each others’ fantasies and interests (i.e. reading recommended books, listening to the other ramble).
    He gives me foot rubs even though he works the far more laborious job.
    I let him choose the restaurant.
    I do the laundry and he does the dishes because I hate dealing with food.
    We laugh at each other.