I have noticed a trend among my friends and coworkers of ending every conversation with any family member with “I love you”. While there is nothing wrong with this practice (other than being a little jarring sometimes when overhead at work) I’m not jumping on board.
I’m not saying you should never say if or even that I don’t. I do make a point of telling my husband I love him every night at bedtime at the very least. I have told me niece I love her- not that she understands or responds. I tell my cat I love her frequently. But that’s about it.
“But Becky” you say to me “What if a loved one dies suddenly? How would you feel then if you missed an opportunity to tell that person you love them?”. Funny you should ask- that’s already happened to me. When I was a freshman in college my paternal grandfather died suddenly and unexpectedly the morning after attending my band concert. But you know what? Gramps wasn’t upset with me for being young and wanting to be with my friends. And even more importantly, had I spend more time with him the night before I wouldn’t have told him I loved him anyway. Sadly, it took me over 20 years of crying every Thanksgiving (Gramps died the morning before Thanksgiving) before I figured that out with help from my sister and husband.
My family isn’t a demonstrative group. Other than in the context of “I’m doing this before I love you” I can probably count on my fingers alone the number of times my dad has told me he loves me. But I have never ever doubted it. Dad shows his love by taking us on family vacations every summer even though we really couldn’t afford it, by surprising me with a brand new clarinet when I was 16, by coming to every band concert I was in from elementary school through the community band I was as an adult before moving out of state 7 years ago and by so many other ways. He doesn’t have to say the words for me to know it- just as his father was with him. It’s not that we don’t love each other, we just don’t feel the need to say it out loud.
My husband is the same way. Yes, we do say “I love you” daily, but not on every phone call or text. He shows his love in quiet ways as well- arranging his schedule so we can spend time together almost every night, sharing funny stories, gossip, etc. with me, by bringing me home my favorite treats from the grocery store and so many other non-verbal ways.
Let’s face it- anyone can SAY they love you. Only the ones that really do will show you without needing to use words.