The Overuse of ‘I Love You’

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It’s wonderful to hear the phrase ‘I love you’. Whether it’s from your child/children, your spouse, a family member or friend. It’s almost magical the way it makes you feel. You are special, you are appreciated…you are loved. It’s even more special when you hear it for the first time from someone you also love. It’s a wonderful feeling to give and receive.

I feel like there comes a point in your relationship, whether it be dating or marriage, where overuse of the phrase ‘I love you’ starts to happen. It becomes as casual as ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’. We say it every time we see the person and on every phone call. We say it so often that it becomes habitual. We say it quick and even mumbled, we use it as an apology, we say it when we’re angry, we say it when we’re needy or need something, we say it because it was said to us first and sometimes we say it when we don’t feel it. The importance of the phrase becomes diminished, less important and all too common. It loses its magic, its importance and its meaning.

Yesterday my husband and I got into an argument. We both went up to bed together but didn’t talk. I said goodnight to which he followed with ‘goodnight, I love you.’ I waited to say it back. I was angry. We didn’t resolve the conflict and I felt like he said it just to say it. I felt like he didn’t mean it. I know he did and he does, but in the moment, it felt fake. I mumbled it back in my unhappy voice and went to bed.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to use this phrase. It’s important to tell those that we love how we feel because you never know what could happen to you or them. The feelings of unconditional love that you share with your family are foundational. They are the pillars which you build your lives upon and around. They are the words that give you hope, strength and the ability to fight through difficult times. But there are also words that when said, do the complete opposite. The phrase is used as a weapon. We use to get what we want. We use it to make our partner feel bad. We say it just because. We say it just to hear it back. We spit it out like word vomit and we selfishly take it in without gratitude.

I’m grateful my husband says I love you, even when I feel he’s saying it just to say. He never fails me there. I remember the first time he said it to me standing in our old kitchen hugging. I couldn’t stop smiling. I still get butterflies when I think about it.

Love is a beautiful thing. If you love someone, tell them…tell them often and always, just mean it. Really, truly mean it. Don’t say it to get out of an argument or to get something that you want. Don’t use it as a test or a punishment. Life is short, love the ones you’re with. One of my favorite sayings is a Swedish proverb, “Love me when I least deserve it, for that is when I really need it.” I’m lucky I have a husband who does this and through it all, I know we will always love one another.

Tantrums: The Breakdown

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Temper tantrums. Everyone has them…babies, teenagers, adults, the elderly, you name it! They come in different forms and various terms (frustration fits, temper tantrums, toddler tantrums, hissy fits, crying fit, conniption fits, nervous breakdown, meltdowns, the list goes on), but it all usually comes down to the same thing: I am frustrated, I am angry and I am expressing my frustration and anger. While this is not the case for every individual (some tantrums are the result of medical illnesses, etc.), I am speaking generally and in ‘tantrum slang format’ (i.e. using the word tantrum to encompass all levels of anger and frustration expressions with regards to children) which I realize is not medically correct, but I’m not a doctor so let’s continue!

This is my daughter’s face after a crying fit in her high chair. As you can see, she’s clearly still upset to which I snapped this picture then immediately comforted her (I know, bad parenting on the picture part!). I am told by the pediatrician that this is the age when babies will express their distress or frustration based on the situation. These can be called ‘frustration fits’ but I know that many people interchangeably use ‘temper tantrums’ or ‘complete meltdowns’ despite the child’s age (as I am doing here).

So, why was she upset? Well, she couldn’t get the puffs in her mouth. She got a few on her own so I stopped putting them in her mouth for her. Once she couldn’t get the others in she started crying, then arching her back moving up and down and then yelling (yes, all while strapped into her high chair). I gave in and fed them to her. She still cried. It was time for her nap so I put her down. She cried some more. She fell asleep ten minutes later which is a new record from the time it usually takes her to go down these days (about 30 minutes!) and I fell on the couch in my own distress. I think she was just overly tired…or maybe she wasn’t…maybe she was just having a tantrum.

I know she is technically ‘too young’ to be having an actual temper tantrum (they say it doesn’t really happen until they’re around one years old) but whatever this expression of dislike is, I DISLIKE IT! If she doesn’t like something she will let you know. She will move and kick and arch her back and cry and yell. She will literally THROW A FIT (and a few toys). My husband says “she’s definitely your daughter.” I thank him for the compliment with my go-fly-a-kite grin. It’s not my favorite phase that she’s going through, but it’s all part of her learning, growing and coming into her own.

In the moment, tantrums are the worst. I actually want to start having one of my own when she is! But then I have to stop and think, this poor little peanut, she can’t communicate any other way. She can’t talk to me and tell me what’s wrong or why she’s upset…this is all she can do. She is a baby. She has off days. She gets frustrated and angry just like everyone else does. She is human. And what am I? I am her mother. I am here to comfort and console her, to guide and nurture her. Sure, I am also here to discipline and teach her, but above all, I am here to love her. I am here to give her all the love that she needs.

In this moment, this tantrum-fitting moment, I am not here to judge, to get frustrated with, to get angry at, to get annoyed over or any other part of me that wants nothing more than to pull my hair out and have a large glass of wine (you know, that whole bottle in one glass kind). I am here to be her mother, and that means unconditional love, support, compassion and understanding. We may not have these unconditionals for many people in our lives, but we must have them for our kids. We must. Because if we don’t, who else will? Who else will give them all they need to survive in this world? To be raised right in this world? To truly understand what it means to be loved in this world?

She had a ‘temper tantrum’…and you know what I did (yes, I took a picture, but after that!)? I loved her. I loved her and I hugged her and I told her it was going to be okay. She squirmed and she cried but I still gave her my love because sometimes, no matter how old we may be, love is all we need. We all have tantrums, we all break down at one point or another, and when we do, it’s nice to know you have one person who will always be there to love you. I hope my daughter knows she forever has me.

Keeping Your Marriage Alive

Having kids changes things. It changes everything. But the one aspect of your life it changes the most is your marriage. The minute you bring that little bundle of joy home it’s longer the two of you, but the three (and maybe even eventually four or five or six!). It’s no longer reckless responsibilities, sleeping in, hangovers that leave you useless on couch all day, leaving the house on a whim and overall your sense of freedom.

You are now attached to another human being for the rest of your life. You are responsible for their well-being, their upbringing and their overall morals and values and their overall safety and security. You are their provider, their protector, their teacher, their guide and their unconditional love. You are their parent and no one can ever take that away from you.

The beginning months of parenting take a took a toll on my marriage quicker than I would have ever expected. We fought about the unknown, the fears, the insecurities, what we each felt was right or wrong and all of the changes we didn’t fully know how to handle. We were sleep deprived, scared, stressed out, frustrated, exhausted and overwhelmed. But we were also incredibly blessed, crazy in love, excited, grateful and overjoyed.

The good definitely outweighed the bad but it didn’t take away from what the bad did to us. We neglected our marriage and each other. We put our relationship on hold. We lost some of the love. We knew we needed to get out, it was just a matter of when. As much as it made us nervous (and me, super anxious!) to leave our little angel, we knew it was time. We ended up having a night out for our anniversary in August. Emma was a little over three months old. It was then we reconnected. We talked, we laughed and we even got ga-ga over pictures of our peanut. But most importantly, we found our love again, our spark. We found the reason we fell in love because it seemed to have gotten a little lost as we transitioned into parents.

I recommend that every couple who are parents go on a date night. And no, not a night to celebrate a friend’s birthday or a work event, but an actual date just the two of you. This is time to get away from the kids, the technology, the laundry, the dishes and everything that keeps you from noticing and spending time with one another. A night to celebrate just the two of you and really express how much you appreciate one another.

My husband and I recently had an overdue date night. With a few other big changes happening in our lives, we needed to get out. We needed to reconnect. And we did. It was amazing! I felt like it was one of our first dates all over again as we held hands and kissed in public.

The strength of your family lies in the foundation of your marriage. The love you have for one another will pour into the way your children view relationships. Life is short. You never know when it one of you will no longer be here. Cherish your love and one another. Never stop trying and never give up. Remember the day you two said “I do” and remember to take the time for just the two of you.