I'm not a good lover. In fact I'm very bad lover, but not in the Mae West way. I'm talking about my ability to make my S.O. feel loved, not the ability to please him in bed (we can talk about that another day). One year I made my own helper, a fill-in-the-blank journal that I then filled in and gave him. It was nice. He liked it. Here's what we each wrote after doing it for each other:
An Attitude of Gratitude, by Kate
When was the last time you told your loved one how much they mean to you?
I frequently feel gratitude, but don’t express it often or fully enough. Surely my husband David already knows I love him, right? Complaining is easy and sometimes feels more urgent, but ultimately there is nothing more important than saying "I love you," and nothing more rewarding. I'm determined to do a better job of giving David heartfelt affirmations such as "I love how playful you are with the kids. Thank you for reminding me how fun it is to be silly." He deserves it.
For me, writing what is in my heart is easier than saying it out loud, so I started penning a little journal for David. Once I got going, it felt good. Letting go of everyday grievances freed me to remind him of the many ways he makes my world better, from little things like foot rubs and delicious grilled veggies, to big things like teaching me how to take risks. I thanked him for the many experiences and people that knowing him have blessed me with. Oh, and I may have mentioned how dazzling his hazel eyes are.
Writing this journal made me feel more in love, more connected and more grateful to my husband. It turned out to be quite easy to sing his praises. Now I'm working on maintaining an attitude of gratitude, but I'm also glad David has a written keepsake of how much richer he has made my life.
Receiving and Giving, by David
On our 20th anniversary Kate gave me a version of this book she had filled out for me. Wow! It really knocked me over. We’d collaborated on books before, but this one affected me differently. Here was a whole book applauding my greatness—from the love of my life. It felt fantastic. I flipped through quickly to make sure there wasn’t a What Bugs Me About You section. There wasn’t.
As I settled down in my armchair to read each page, a warm glow came over me—directed toward Kate. After reading it, a little misty-eyed, I hugged Kate tight and told her how much I loved her. I even learned some things she appreciates about me that I never knew before, such as my faithful kisses goodnight and my ambitious kitchen experiments. This is the best gift I have ever received from my wife, not counting our two wonderful children.
For Kate’s birthday, I knew what her present would be. As I started to fill out the book, describing all the ways I admire her, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude that she had come into my life. After two decades of marriage, it warmed me to remember what attracted us to each other in the first place—and continue to bind us together each day. When I saw her eyes light up as she removed the wrapping, I knew I had chosen the perfect present. It felt wonderful to prepare and give this gift of love to my wife.
We decided to share our love journal experience by creating a fill-in version to help other couples organize their thoughts of praise and love as well. We offer you What I Love About You to sing the praises of someone you love. We hope you and your loved ones feel as rewarded by it as we did.
Causes Kate Marshall Supports
Project Second Chance, an adult literacy program run by the Contra Costa County Library system in California.