Give awkwardly specific compliments. (advice from a couples therapist).


I recently read an article about how saying “I love you” to your significant other isn’t enough.  As I often tell the couples I see in private practice, it is important to be specific about the behaviors that you admire and appreciate about each other.

This specificity probably rules out the “your eyes are the sunshine of my soul” stuff that has always perplexed me (A guy wrote me a song one time and I was all WTF does that even mean.  Then I married someone better suited for me, a chemical engineer who never speaks in bullshit abstractly).  ….So, anyway, fret not if you lack the skills of a poetic wordsmith, because when it comes to making someone feel loved, concrete examples are pretty important.

And yes, I am certain that I melted my husband’s heart with this beautiful note:

Dear amazing husband of mine, there are so many things that I admire about you. 

You’re not an asshole at all.  You stood there smiling like the Cheshire cat the whole time my mom kept asking you questions about how to post her jewelry on ebay that one time.  You poured no beer on her laptop, not even a little bit, even though she was making you miss lots of parts of the Penn State game.

Your score on the Hare Psychopath Checklist would probably be zero.  You thought about my feelings when you were looking at the girl with the green bikini in Mexico, and pretended you were reading a sign about kayak rentals instead.  One time, at Chick-fil-a, you asked if you were supposed to leave a tip for the man that laid down placements for the kids.

You mostly nod and smile, but aren’t averse to the occasional, “bitch pleeze” either.  You said, “That was so wrong.  How could she,” in your best Jerry McGuire voice when I was irate about the kindergarten teacher saying “Duh” to the kids.  But you also told me to simmer down when I was so angry about the guy who brought Ebola to Texas; You didn’t think he knew he had Ebola.

You are hard-working and generous.  You make the kids and I breakfast and clean the kitchen on mornings when it is my turn to sleep in.  When it is your turn to sleep in, I keep the TV on, and curl up on the couch so the kids that I am ignoring bang down our bedroom door and wake you up.  You work 11 hour days for money for the family, and you never ever question when I stop at Nordstrom Rack on the way home from work and get tons of stuff I don’t need.

Which reminds me, one time I went to Kohl’s and got you some sweaters and socks, and you gushed with appreciation.  That made me not ever care that neither those clothes nor any of your other clothes ever make it to the laundry hamper.

You’re a wonderful father.  You thought our babies’ poop was cute, and wondered aloud if all parents think that.  You do a little double-check to make sure the kids haven’t snuck out of bed to spy on us before you dare turn on “Walking Dead.” You listened to a long and boring puppet show where the puppets only kept saying “Hi; What’s your name?” over and over.  You wore a Ninja Turtle mask and chased the kids around with plastic nunchucks.  Our kids are the only ones on the baseball team that consistently need to use the tee instead of hitting from the pitch, and a couple times Charlie started running bases in the wrong direction–  but after the game you just ask, “Did you have fun, Buddy?” 

Your are like 94% dependable. You change the light bulbs and make sure our yard does not become an overgrown wilderness, and take out the garbage every week, and even though you wait until the last-minute and get an extension from the IRS every year, taxes are your job and we have not ever once been arrested for tax evasion.  When we bought the house, you completed every single piece of paperwork, and I’m pretty sure we do in fact own this house.

You are funny.  One time I told you that I like when you have a take-charge attitude, and you said, “Get in the kitchen and make me a sammich right now.” And when I read you a study that explained that husbands that help with housework get more sex, you immediately made me dinner and Swiffered the kitchen. So you’re the good kind of funny, meaning you have never dutch-ovened me while snickering to yourself even once in all these years. For that I am grateful. 

You aren’t defensive.  You admitted to being selfish that one time; You apologize first 64% of the time; And whenever I say “Polish your halo, dude,” you say, “You’re right; I don’t get to be a martyr here.”  I’m pretty happy about that because when I was 9, I wrote in my diary that I never wanted to marry a defensive man. 

When you hug me, I feel peaceful, and also, I enjoy the feeling of my cheek on your chest. When you kiss me, I sometimes am still thinking about what to put on the grocery list, but then when you keep kissing me, I stop thinking about that.

So, my handsome, mesmerizing, sunshine of my soul; My world would be incomplete without your magical presence, my effervescent light of my life.  Plus, you hardly ever smell like B.O. and you almost always put the toilet paper back on the roll.




So if you want your partner to feel loads and loads of love, apparently THAT is how it’s done.  Now everyone get out set aside your perfumed scented paper and calligraphy pens, and get writing! 

Seriously, I would like to hear your specific letter, and post it (the clean parts anyway.) in a segment featuring “couples in real love.”  Don’t be shy! Message me with your letters! 

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook for more stuff about relationships, parenting, and psychology.






6 thoughts on “Give awkwardly specific compliments. (advice from a couples therapist).

  1. Love this idea! In fact, I decided to try it out myself and will be posting my letter on my blog today (linked to your blog article, of course!). Thanks so much for such an awesome way to compliment our spouses!

  2. Pingback: An Awkward Love Letter To My Husband - MIDLIFE MAYHEM

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