The Littlest Words Can Mean the Most

August 1st, 2011

My husband and I, 2009

This past weekend, my husband and I each learned a very important lesson on the power of saying, “I love you” and “I’m sorry.”

On Sunday, my husband said to me, “I realize I need to actually say ‘I love you’ more.” I told him I would like that very much and promised I would try harder as well. So this week we have tried to make more of an effort to actually say those words as well as showing them through our actions.

Don’t get me wrong, I know my husband loves me. He is very good at showing love through service and touch (it’s his love language!). By the simple act of doing the dishes or taking care of the baby while I take a nap, I know he loves me and cares for me. But actually hearing those words, wow! They can make a huge difference in our relationship.

I’ve realized that for me, any act of service, physical touch, quality time or other love language is completely trumped when my husband says sweetly and sincerely, “I love you!” The other acts of love are extras that solidify the point, but I still get butterflies in my stomach when I hear the actual words.

But saying “I love you” is only part of the equation to a loving relationship. You also need to be humble enough to realize your mistakes and say sorry. I learned this lesson the hard way after I snapped at my husband the other night. I was trying to design an invitation using a new program that I was unfamiliar with. My husband tried to teach me some things on it but instead of being patient and listening, I just got frustrated with him and told him he was making it worse. I told him I could do it on my own and sent him to bed feeling rejected while I stayed up late getting more and more frustrated.

As the time got later, I started feeling really bad about how I treated my husband who was only trying to help me. I told myself I would apologize in the morning and maybe get up early to make him a big breakfast. But guess what happened instead? My husband got up early and made me breakfast instead! I felt so ashamed that I would snap at him the way I did and yet he would still want to serve me. I also felt completely humbled by the experience and sincerely apologized for my actions the night before.

Once I could objectively look at the situation and realize my mistake, all I wanted to do was go to my husband and say “I’m sorry.” It was amazing the amount of love we could share once I apologized instead of insisting I was right (which is probably what usually would happen).

I’m sure there is a lot of research that supports the importance of saying “I love you” and “I’m sorry.” I usually try to bring in the good research in these blogs. But sometimes a story, even a little one like this, is just as effective as citing the research. Those little words, “I love you” and “I’m sorry,” seem like very simple acts to utter but they go a long way. There doesn’t always need to be grand gestures of love or huge gifts to accompany an apology. Just saying those small words can mean the world!