The language of love is universal.
My girlfriend does this amazing thing. I call it amazing because that's how it makes me feel, not because it's some grand romantic gesture. In fact, it's quite the opposite. It's the tiniest little thing, but it means the world when it happens.
She says, "I love you, too." But not just after I say those words to her first. She says them after I cook dinner, or rub her shoulders, or any small gesture on my part that says "I love you" without opening my mouth.
The first time it happened, it was one of those epiphany moments where you realize a universal truth that was right under your nose the whole time.
When you do all these small things for each other, we're really saying "I love you" with our actions (which definitely speak louder than words). Not only that, but you realize you're doing these things in the first place because you love that person.
When you think of it from that perspective, cleaning up a dish or opening up a door no longer become a chore, but another way to show your partner you love them.
Her acknowledging that fact in a way I haven't seen before is supe- gratifying. It's not because I'm concerned with getting "credit" for my actions per se, but because it feels great to know that my little efforts aren't being taken for granted.
And feeling appreciated goes a long way. Feeling like all your efforts are in vain can make any relationship feel a little one-sided. It's so easy to say "I love you" with your actions, too. Paying attention to your partner's needs, wants and desires and then fulfilling them is all there is to it.
Of course, this presumes you actually DO really love them and want to show it. If you don't really give a f*ck deep down, this is one of the first things to go in a relationship, as well as the little extra efforts that a person who's not in love can't be bothered with.
But if you do care, it comes naturally with a little practice. You just have to make a conscious effort until it becomes second nature.
Really LISTEN to your partner. We blurt out things we want or need all the time. You just have to realize when that's happening and deliver on it.
"Ugh, I HATE cleaning the bathroom."
"I'll be home late tonight. I have a meeting after work."
These are just opportunities to say "I love you" by cleaning the bathroom, or having takeout ready when your partner gets home.
Eventually, you get good at picking up signals they don't even mention. Maybe they're sucked into their favorite show and you bring them a drink or cleanup their dish. All it takes is a second to sit back and think, "What could make him/her even a tiny bit happier in this moment?"
In the end, a thousand tiny efforts over time are worth way more than a grand gesture here or there.
And when your partner does the same for you, just remember to say, "I love you, too."