Monday, 17 September 2012

Say 'I Love You' Now Before It's Too Late

Say 'I Love You' Now Before It's Too Late

By Dr. Benna Sherman

"If one were given five minutes warning before sudden death, five minutes to say what it had all meant to us, every telephone booth would be occupied by people trying to call up other people to stammer that they loved them." - Christopher Morley, 1890-1957

Although the quote is a bit dated ("telephone booth"), the sentiment is, I believe, timeless. We've seen the evidence. For example, before that 9/11 plane was crashed into a field, when people really did know that they were likely to die, passengers with cell phones were calling loved ones all over the country.

Mostly, and fortunately, we are not going to experience sudden death.

Mostly, and unfortunately, we are also not typically in the habit of routinely expressing our love for the people about whom we care the most.

Here are five reminders of when to say, "I love you".

1. The most obvious one - in times of extreme danger or terminal illness. Basically, this is the one where you're running out of time to do and say the important things. This is the case where you do it now or lose the chance to do it ever. In this kind of situation you know with confidence or certainty that you will not have another opportunity. Reticence, shyness, inhibition, or habit need to give way to the reality of limited time.

2. When you are about to part for a lengthy separation -- Your last words to your loved one before a long time apart will carry the weight, in his or her thoughts, of the recency effect. Memory most accurately and vividly retains the last thing heard. The last words that you say before you part are the words that will be the most memorable by your loved one. Do you really want those last words to be something like, "Don't forget to mow the grass"? Or would you prefer your partner be able to carry the warmth and assurance of words of love and caring, like, "I love you" or "I'll miss you"?

3. When a loved one's anxiety is high or their confidence is low - You may not be able to ensure a successful or benign outcome, but expressions of love and caring at such times can help to balance the discomfort, pain, or fear of the circumstances. Those expressions of love and caring act as a protective shield or comforting balm that provides comfort and security even when you can't protect your loved one from some unpleasant reality. Hearing that you're loved won't necessarily make bad outcomes okay, but it always makes them better.

4. When you wake up in the morning - every day is improved, both for the sender and for the receiver, when it begins with an expression of love. It is so easy to focus first on the demands and stressors of the day ahead. It fundamentally realigns your thinking and your feelings when you intentionally start your day with a connection to and an expression of love. Choose to start your day with love.

5. When you go to bed at night - whatever else may have happened during the day, if you ended your day with someone to love you're a fortunate person. We know that gratitude is directly related to happiness and well-being. What is more valuable for which to be grateful than having someone in your life whom you love? For many people going to bed is the time when they review the events of the day past or prepare for the events of the day to come. While that kind of housekeeping may be useful, it does nothing to bring you closer to your loved one. Make your last acts of the day the expression of and gratitude for love.

Oh, and by the way, any other additional time is good too. Don't wait for imminent catastrophe. As Nike says, "Just do it."

Dr. Benna Sherman has been a Licensed Psychologist in private practice in Severna Park, Maryland, for over 20 years. She has a specialty in Marriage/Relationship Counseling and writes a biweekly newspaper column on relationships. Her book, "How to Get and Give Love - Relationship Maps", is now available on in both paperback and Kindle.

Learn more about Dr. Sherman, subscribe to her free newsletter, and read more of her articles at

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