Words of love, so soft and tender, won’t win a girls heart anymore:  The Mamas And The Papas (1966) 

man and woman holding hands walking on seashore during sunrise
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When I was in the service, I would try to write my wife as often as I could, relating where I was and what I was doing. These usually contained expressions of my love for her but the envelope, oh the envelope, I would adorn it with the number 143. That was my code for the number of letters in the words I love you. One cruise she was pregnant with my daughter and I wrote the 143 vertically and put a smaller 143 inside the 4. This represented my wife carrying my child.

As a family we have many ways of expressing our love for each other. If we happen to be holding hands, 3 gentle squeezes mean I love you. This will be followed by 4 gentle squeezes in response meaning I love you too. Another way we express our love for each other is by flashing the ILY a sign from American Sign Language which means I love you. The sign originated among deaf schoolchildren using American Sign Language to create a sign from a combination of the signs for the letters I, L and Y and is our personal “gang” hand sign.

Another way we say I love you is by saying “Owie”. This developed from a daughter who as a very young child and was just learning to talk responding “owie” every time we said I love you to her. Again this is a family specific way to let each other know how we feel about each other without yelling I love you in a crowded room.

One time I used a label maker to put I love you on the lid of the wash machine so every time my wife did laundry she would see it. This had a very humorous side effect one day when my furniture was in storage at my parent’s house after I got out of the Navy. A repairman showed up to fix the damage the moving company caused to the washer and when he opened the lid he said “I love you”. My mother was aghast until the repairman explained he was just reading the lid.

When I worked, I used to call my wife in the middle of the day to chat and tell her I loved her. There are many ways to say I love you and we say it to each other frequently. I tell my wife I love you several times a day and she says it to me but I also try to have fresh flowers in the house because she likes them and it is my way of saying I love you. She on the other hand, always ensures I have clean clothes. I frequently remark on my magic underwear drawer that seems to fill itself up whenever it gets low. She always makes me delicious meals and desserts. This is part of the reason I have gained 90 pounds since we married 48 years ago. That’s 90 pounds of love she gave me.

When my wife had a minivan I found some red rubbery hearts that I stuck on her rear view mirror. Every time she looked at it, it was like I was telling her I love you. When I bought her the new minivan this was one of the first things I transferred.

The love we show has spilled over to our grandchildren and they will frequently end a text to either Nana or me with a 143. We have several paper hearts that our granddaughter made sprinkled throughout our house. She stuck them on the bathroom mirror, the television in our bed room and many other places. Every time we see them we know we are loved.

We recently watched an 11 year old for a month this summer. We watched her from the time she was 7 weeks old until her family moved to North Carolina. One day she left me a note saying”Love Ya” on my end table. This is now taped inside my laptop where it reminds me of her every day.

It is easy to let someone know you love them. Write on the bathroom mirror with a small amount of hand soap on your finger and when the mirror steams up you will leave a little love message! On your way out in the morning, draw a heart in the snow. Telling someone you love them doesn’t have to be a grandiose gesture. It can be as small as a squeeze, a word, or just doing something nice for a person.

The Mamas And The Papas got it all wrong. Words of love will win a girls heart.

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