Words or Deeds: What Says, 'I Love You' Best? Why it’s important to match and balance your behaviors with your words to show how you truly feel towards one another. BY DR. NOELLE NELSON
To fully express your love you must balance your sweet words with thoughtful actions.
“ People's actions are what will tell you whether a person's words are trustworthy or not.”
He says, "I love you," and you believe him. She says, "I'll be faithful to you forever" and you believe her. You assume what you hear is truth.
When your husband then calls you "stupid," "bitch," and "dumb," you are in shock—how could he say this if he loves you? When you glance at your wife’s Twitter feed and realize she’s flirting shamelessly online, you're appalled. Why is this happening? What's going on?
You've been trapped by the power of words. It's as simple, and as potentially devastating, as that. We've all been conditioned to believe what we are told. Indeed, life as we know it couldn't go on without our ability to rely on what people tell us. So most of us go about our lives believing what we hear, trusting that it is "for real."
The problem lies not in our willingness to take what we are told as truth, but in our failure to consistently evaluate what we are told against what we see. People's actions are what will tell you whether a person's words are trustworthy or not.
All of us want to believe that our husband or wife loves us when they say, "I love you," but, "I love you" is a meaningless phrase unless it is backed up with loving actions. There is nothing loving about being called demeaning names. Your wife's promise of fidelity is just fantasy on her part unless she indeed behaves in a way consistent with her words.
So what to do? Never trust anything you hear? Become paranoid and stop believing your spouse? No. Simply balance the extraordinary power of an individual's words with what you observe of his or her actions. Listen and watch, watch and listen. Pay attention.
If your husband's actions are loving, then his, "I love you" is sincere and can be trusted. Otherwise, his words may reflect his feelings, but if he can't express those feelings in appropriate actions, his words—as lovely as they are to the ear—are nothing but empty promises. Similarly, if your wife refrains from inappropriate flirtations, then her, "I’ll always be faithful" is genuine. If she doesn’t, it’s not, no matter how soulfully said.
Words create expectations of behavior, expectations we then act upon and live by, which can be hurtful if those words are without the bedrock of matching behavior. Talk with your spouse about what feels loving and what does not.
Help each other match your behaviors to the words you speak, so that both reflect the truth of how you feel about each other. Your hopes and dreams may then indeed be fulfilled and you will enjoy the happiness you deserve.
Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of nine best-selling books, including "Your Man is Wonderful" and "Dangerous Relationships." Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. For more, visit www.noellenelson.com and follow her on Twitter @DrNoelleNelson and Google+.