Every love story has that ONE element that’s unforgettable. The moment when true feelings are revealed through one big step of faith: The first I love you.
It’s the point of the story when true feelings are finally unveiled. And there’s no greater way for those feelings to be expressed than with that one simple phrase.
On the show Frasier, it took Niles seven years to finally tell Daphne how he felt about her.
On the show, The Office, Jim had secretly been pining for Pam for several years. Their friendship continued to grow, even as Pam was engaged to Roy. He finally tells Pam how he feels about her, on Casino Night!
The funny thing about the first “I love you” is that it always includes the element of risk. What if they don’t feel the same way? What if you completely misread all the signals? Love always involves risk. The risk of exposing what’s going on inside. The risk of being completely vulnerable. The risk of taking the next step, not knowing exactly where it will lead.
Do you remember when you first expressed your feelings to your spouse? I’ll never forget the first time Debbie told me she loves me. She was actually the first to say it.
We were juniors in high school and had been “an item” for a few months.
One of the things I had described to her in great detail was how much I loved baseball. I went on and on about it on our first date – my illustrious little-league career, our team in high school and my plans to take us to the state championship, and everything in between. I had lettered in baseball the year before and was proudly displaying it on my school jacket the night of our first date.
Things were going well (as well as can be expected for a high school romance) and we got to know each other better as the weeks progressed that fall. Even though she was keenly focused on her studies and preparing to get into the college of her choice, we still spent a lot of time together – both in school and outside of school. We were just kids and only beginning to learn about love, but what we were experiencing was real – even if we were only 16 years old.
Our feelings for each other were expressed in a variety of ways – notes, gifts, holding hands, occasional kissing, walking home from school together, etc. We were officially a couple in the eyes of our friends at school, which as you know, is a big step.
But the truth is, I didn’t have any clue what the next step was supposed to be. I had overcome my fears in several ways – calling her, meeting her, asking her out, the first kiss (even though she deserves the credit)…and I wasn’t sure what my next move was supposed to be. I didn’t realize that she knew exactly what the next step was for our young relationship. The first “I love you.” And the way she did it was brilliant.
The baseball stadium where we played all of our league games was actually located between our respective houses. We lived only a few blocks from each other. Actually, we grew up only a few blocks from each other and never knew it. She knew how much baseball meant to me and she planned something very meaningful and very romantic. I’ll never forget it.
On one dark, cold, wet, late fall evening in Erie, Pennsylvania we walked over to Ainsworth Field and snuck onto the field. She was leading the way and I didn’t know what was going on, but it was clear that she had something important in mind. We walked onto the infield and right up to the top of the pitcher’s mound. We were standing there, facing each other, looking into each other’s eyes. She took me by the hand and said, “Stephen Buckner, I love you.”
That was a defining moment in our young relationship, and in my life.
About a week later, I told her I loved her as well. I didn’t want to tell her the night at Ainsworth Field. I wanted it to be totally real, without any sense of obligation, since she said it first. We were at her house playing ping pong. Well, we started out playing ping pong, and ended up kissing. I remember feeling overwhelmed with emotion – feelings I had never experienced before. I knew it wasn’t the most romantic setting in the world (her ping pong table was in the basement!), but I felt like it was the right moment. Sometimes the moment overrides the setting.
And we’ve said, I love you to each other thousands of times since.
What about you? Do you remember the first “I love you’s” between the two of you?
Why not take a few minutes, the next time you have a chance, and go down memory lane together.
More importantly, when was the last time you said “I love you” to your spouse in a meaningful way. Try this: look them in the eyes, take them by both hands, wait a few seconds for their full attention, and say I love you slowly…using their full name.When you say I love you, look them in the eyes, wait for their full attention, and use their full name Click To Tweet