The nicest four words my husband ever said to me were not “here, have some wine”, although those do come in as a close second. What he said was “I really like you”. This wasn’t in the flirtation phase of our relationship, or during the “honeymoon” period. This was well into our relationship and our marriage. We had spent the weekend relaxing in the pre-baby days, having a long lunch, talking for hours and when we got home, he just said that to me, out of the blue. It sounds strange, doesn’t it? I mean, I know he loves me (or at least I hope he does), but those words meant so much more.
We find ourselves using the words “I love you” very often, it’s almost automatic and comes naturally when we say goodbye in the morning as we head our separate ways or in the evening as we get ready to go to sleep. It’s a common way to hang up the phone or finish off an email. It rolls off the tongue without much thought. It’s the same with sisters, brothers and close friends. But how often do we tell the people we love that we actually like them? And the more difficult question to answer is: do we always like everyone we love? Looking back, I can’t remember the last time I told someone I love that I like them, or what it is I like about them. Can you imagine how nice it would feel if people regularly told each other what they believe makes them special? If the words are sincere and really show that you are paying attention to the small things the person is doing, the effect could be magical. Whether we admit it or not, people thrive on being noticed and appreciated. I read a saying in a book the other day that I loved “people grow towards the sun”. Our words could be the sun. Our words have the power to provide light, warmth and a safe space for people to grow. Why do we keep those words to ourselves then? I find that we are better at doing that with our kids, in an effort to reinforce positive behaviour. Saying things like “that was a very kind thing to do”, “you were very generous and I am proud of you for sharing your toys”. We don’t do that nearly as often as we should with adults. The funny thing is we probably think those things and too often we think a simple “I love you” says it all. Well I think it doesn’t.
Now back to the more difficult question. Do we always like everyone we love? As you grow and evolve into the person you are today, it is only safe to assume that everyone around you is also growing and evolving. What if those natural cycles, instead of bringing you closer, take you further apart? What if you wake up one day and realize that you love someone very much for the memories you built, for the history you shared, for the time you stood by each other, but today find that you no longer share the same values or that you have taken different directions in life? Is it then possible to still love this person, but not really like them anymore? I guess this question is for each of us to answer and for each of us to reflect on.
For now, what we can do is look around us, be mindful of the people we surround ourselves with and remember what it is we like about them, and more importantly, tell them.