How hard is it for you to say those three little words – I love you? And if you do say them, what do you mean by them. Who do you say them to?
My friend, Judy, suggested I write a column on saying “I love you.” It seems that many folks really have a hard time saying that to someone – even to a family member.
Years ago, 1960 to be exact, when I was a senior here at Mineral Wells High School, I was dating a helicopter pilot trainee named Jake who was from Iowa. He was a very sweet man. He went to church and was a friend of my parents. He had taught a year before he enlisted in the Army, and his parents were also teachers.
His two best friends here were named Dean and Don. Dean was from Kansas, and Don was from Virginia, and at one point Jake drove Dean and Don back to Iowa to see where he lived and to meet his parents. Jake had not been home in over a year.
Don, the southerner, was horrified during the trip, and when he returned he related this story.
They drove straight through from Mineral Wells to Ames, Iowa, and arrived just in time for breakfast. Jake led his friends into his parents’ kitchen where his mother promptly turned and asked them what they wanted for breakfast. She never said “Hello” or “Good to see you,”or any of those phrases a parent might say to a child who had been absent for a while.
The men were in Ames for about four days, and Don related to me that he never saw any affection whatsoever – no hugs, no kisses, and no “I love you.” Being a southerner, he was absolutely stunned, and, when he finished his story, I was quite sad and dismayed.
I never spoke of this to Jake, but, since I am now married to a damn Yankee (you know, one who came and stayed), I have discovered that many of my northern family and friends go out of their way to be affectionate and to say “I love you.”
So, I don’t believe this is a regional affectation, and I do believe that many more people are using the word love more openly than they used to – but not all!
When I phone, text, message, etc., my family and friends, I most often end the message with “I love you.” Now, obviously I don’t say that to everyone – while I hope in a Christian way I do love everyone, there are some folks I just don’t feel close enough to say that to.
Sometimes at the end of a conversation with my daughters or grandchildren, they will say ”I love you‚“ first, and I feel guilty that I didn’t say it first! Childish, I know!
But I don’t believe we can say “I love you” too often to those people we really care for. It’s important both for us to say it and for them to hear it. It’s the last thing Raf and I say to each other at night before sleep overtakes us, and, somehow, I think it give us a more peaceful rest.
So, if someone tells you they love you, how should you respond? Don‘t be uncomfortable to allow your feelings to show.