My husband and I are one of those sappy couples filling our social media timelines this month with public gestures of love. On our anniversary this past year, I snapped a selfie of us kissing in front of “our church,” the place we got married in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park over a decade ago. We’ve also sought out the help of strangers to take photos of us as we posed, making a heart with our joined hands. We don’t shy away from expressing our love in a public fashion.
Of course, expressions of love in real life don’t always look like our social media highlight reels. Jay and I started dating fifteen years ago and have been married for over thirteen of those years. Our love most often gets lived out through our small, daily interactions. My personality type craves order and organization, so his efforts to keep our house tidy go a long way in saying “I love you” without words. While I love the way he plans adventures and vacations down to the last detail, I truly feel his love when he does something as small as putting his dinner plate in the sink.
When I changed his name in my phone contacts list from “Jay” to “My Darling Love,” I did it from a place of frustration, not sappiness. As I tried to establish a work-life balance, I grew frustrated with phone calls interrupting my workday, asking questions I felt didn’t convey the sense of urgency an interruption should. I took the small step of updating his contact display to remind myself of my love for this man. Answering the phone with the words “Hello, my love” may garner eye rolls from others who may be listening, but this habit reframes the way I begin any conversation with him.
Over time, we have also developed a shorthand. We have a way of communicating that only makes sense to the two of us. Jay has always been a night owl. He is a real estate agent, which allows him to set his own hours more often than not. Early in our marriage, I would kiss him and say “I love you” as I headed out the door for my 8-to-5 job. In his half-asleep state, he would mumble “Yeah you.” Not totally present in the moment but still responding out of love. These days, “Yeah you” has evolved into a regular way we express our love. In just two words, we share our life, experience, and what it means to grow together as a couple.
As the fog of seasonal depression hit this winter, I’ve tried to remind myself that expressing my love for God doesn’t have to look Pinterest-perfect. Most often, my morning Bible study and prayer time includes in-depth study materials and a detailed prayer journal. However, as the dark and coldness of the season set in, my concentration and ability to comprehend the Scripture waned.