Alternates to 'I love you'

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

In the furor since Valentine's Day, I thought this would be something nice to reflect on.


As a control freak, who's slightly OCD and a tiny bit neurotic, I struggle some days with the ways my family gets through life on a daily basis.

For example, I've realized there are two types of people in the world - the morning birds and the night owls - and they almost always marry each other. So while my husband is up at 5am doing a workout, I'm trying not to hate him while struggling to piece together thoughts and looking for my morning coffee so I can focus.


When I'm focused though, I start to gripe about things. So finding this list last year when E was away at university and I had to get my [also night owl] grumpy four-year-old up for school every day, was the saving grace of my sanity.


In my previous post on toxic traits and self-care, I talked about the subtle messaging behind self-care and looking after your mental health. I remember when I used to classify 'self-care' as restraining myself from yelling at the fun-size version of my husband and myself all day. That is so totally not self-care and was more me trying to control every single thing around me, including what my kid wore or how he combed his hair. So with that, a bit of time for self-reflection.


I really do recommend you read the whole article here if you also find you struggle to control everything around you. But if you don't have the time, the author wrote some really powerful words to help you calm down and re-phrase yourself. She called them her 'soul binding words', and I've translated that personally into my list of 'alternates to I love you'.


What are Soul-Building Words?

“I will wait for you.”

“Take your time.”

“You make my day better.”

I say those words to my slow-moving, happy-go-lucky, noticer of life child.


I watch as grateful eyes light up and tiny shoulders relax.

Those words are Soul-Building Words to her.



“Mistakes mean you are learning.”

“It doesn’t have to be perfect.”

“Okay, you can have a few more minutes to work on your project.”


I say those words to my driven, contentious planner and pursuer of dreams child.


I watch as pressure escapes from her chest and aspirations soar higher.


Those words are Confidence-Boosting Words to her.




“I appreciate you.”

“I’m listening.”

“You matter.”


I say those words to my hard-working, often underappreciated love of my life.

I watch as tensions loosen, eyes meet, and conversation comes easier.


Those words are Affirming and Connective Words to him.




“It’s good enough for today.”

“Be kind to yourself.”

“Today matters more than yesterday.”

I say those words to my own perfection-seeking, worrisome heart that tends to replay past mistakes.


I watch as my clenched hands open and tears fall as scars come to the surface.


Those are Healing, Hope-Filled Words to me.



The words “I love you” should never be underestimated, but every human being has a few words that make his or her soul come alive."

- Rachel Macy Stafford



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