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The 14 Rules of Long-Lasting Relationships

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Recognize the Signs

How do you show your partner you love them? Do you give them flowers or chocolates? Do you take them out for a meal or cook a special dinner for them? Do you tell them half a dozen times a day, "I love you"? Do they do the same for you?

If you're feeling guilty, just hold on for a minute. I might be about to let you off the hook on this one. I remember talking to a couple of friends once over dinner. They were having a (mostly) friendly banter about the fact that -- according to her --- he hardly ever showed that he loved her. He replied, "That's not fair. What about all those morning cups of coffee I make you? What about the weekends when I mind the kids? What about the times I wash your car?" She was firm in her response: "That's not romantic. Those are just favors." He looked completely baffled, and asked, "But why do you think I do them?"

We have a very narrow idea of what constitutes a romantic gesture. Flowers, chocolates, dinner, and saying "I love you." Those are the obvious ones. In fact there is an infinite number of ways to show someone you love them. Every little thing they do that they didn't have to, that they only did because they wanted to please you, is their way of saying, "I love you."

If you want to know how much your partner cares, don't just focus on flowers and chocolates. (Although those are fine too, at least in my book.) Think about the last time they changed the sheets when it wasn't their turn, fetched you an aspirin when you were feeling ill, or made a phone call for you because you didn't have the energy. If those mundane, banal, unromantic-sounding things aren't gestures of love, what the hell are they? What was the point of doing them?

If you learn to recognize these signs for what they are, not only will your partner feel their love is appreciated, but you'll also feel even more secure and happy after you realize that every cup of coffee is just a secret code for "I love you."

Next: Be the First to Say Sorry

More on: Marriage and Divorce

From The Rules of Love Copyright © 2009, FT Press. Used by permission of FT Press, and Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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