One of my favorite all-time movies (and plays) was Cyrano de Bergerac, the story of a romantic poet who, embarrassed by his large nose, romances his true love by proxy. My take-away from the story was not so much about guys with big noses, but more about how some men just know the right things to say. And here are eight of those right things to say that, as far as I'm concerned, I can't hear enough now that I'm post 50.
1) "I'm glad you called."
We are a family that tracks our movements by phone. When one family member departs a location, we call another to say we've done so. Every day when I leave the office, I call my husband and tell him I'm in the car. I like that he says back "I'm glad you called." It suggests that he thinks about my safety, my well-being, and if the cell signal doesn't crap out, how my day at work went. Our kids have heard him say it often enough that they now say it too. No, I don't feel this endangers my independence, belittles my status as an adult. I also don't feel it encroaches on any freedoms I have. I like that there is someone out there who wants to know that my plane landed safely, who will worry if I don't arrive at my destination. My husband, a guy whose four obsessions are the Cubs, our family, where to buy the cheapest gasoline, and traffic conditions, has of late taken to forwarding me text alerts about freeway congestion. I actually like that too.
2) "Thanks for doing that."
The pleasure of being thanked can't be overstated. It means you aren't taking things for granted, that you noticed the effort. I'm pretty much willing to move a mountain for you if you let me know afterward that you recognized and valued my effort. I like being thanked for making dinner, for changing my plans so I could do something you needed done, helping you with whatever you needed help with.
3) "I appreciate you."
Appreciating and thanking may be first cousins, but they aren't identical twins. Appreciation is less task-specific. It comes when I'm not expecting it. Coming home to a bouquet of "just because" flowers with no occasion attached is appreciation.
4) "Let me help."
Women of my generation are used to doing things ourselves. Accepting help isn't always something that comes easily for us. I love when someone breaks through my "I got this, no worries" exterior and just grabs the damn groceries from my arms. One of the nicest things my husband did for me recently was take over planning a vacation last June. I had spent entire evenings online getting more and more confused by deals and websites. He finally just said, "Let me help." Marriage is a partnership and for the most part, the division of tasks is set in cement pretty early on. But there's no rule that says once in a while you can't cross out of the "I cook, he cleans up" mentality and just offer to help. There are days when the three words I most want to hear aren't "I love you," but rather "Let me help."
5) "I love you."
If you need to be told that people want to hear you say "I love you," you are spending too much time reading online lists like this one and perhaps need to see a relationship counselor. Everyone wants to be loved. I know I am loved and I know there are many ways to show me I am loved. I like this way the best.
6) "You look nice."
There isn't a soul among us who doesn't occasionally want to be told we are attractive. "You look good," has a nuanced sexual overtone, so that works too. "You look great!" will bring a smile to my face. "You're looking hot" will bring an embarrassed grin (and please say it anyway).
7) "I missed you."
Separations make the heart grow fonder. They are especially beneficial when you've been spending too much time under the same roof together and just need a break. The funniest time this line was ever delivered was on about the 20th hour of a cross-country car trip. We had stopped for gas and I went in to use the restroom in the adjacent fast food restaurant. Yes, I was a bit pokey, not being particularly anxious to perform another stint in the driver's seat and feeling every muscle in my lower back aching. So when I returned, my husband deadpanned that he had "missed" me. It was hysterically funny at the time; you've heard of road giddiness, right?
8) "I'll drive."
This one is music to my ears. It says to me that you will shoulder the responsibility of things for awhile. I like it said when we are in an actual car, but I also like it said when we are planning a vacation, deciding who has to take the lead on math homework, figuring out the week's meal plan and grocery list. "I'll drive" says you are stepping up to the plate.
Earlier on HuffPost50:
A Good Friend
Better yet -- a few: one who makes you laugh, one who listens without judgment and one who challenges you.
A Good Book...
...always on hand to return to.
At Least One Great Love Of Her Life...
...and preferably more than one. Letting go of the idea that there is a "one and only" person out there for you is a sign of maturity. By opening your mind and your heart to the possibility -- the reality -- that you can fall in love again, you remove a big obstacle to happiness.
A Go-To Purse...
...that's never out of style.
Great Black Boots...
...to go with everything.
A Comfortable Bed and Bedding
A Good Vibrator
A Treasured Hobby
A Secret Crush
A Regular Exercise Routine...
...ideally one that involves friends.
At Least One Amazing Travel Experience
The Grace To Accept A Compliment
A Recognition Of Your Strengths...
...and how to use them.
A Handle On Your Buttons...
...and how to deactivate them.
An Appreciation That Gratitude Is The Basis For A Happy Life
The Experience To Know That Loving Is An Act Of Giving, Not Receiving
The Understanding That Money Is Not Happiness, Power Or Security...
...but just a tool to help you get the things you value; and that you can often get many of them without a lot of money.
A Love Of Life-Long Learning
Life ends when your mind shuts down, not when your body fails you.
The Smarts Not To Be A Victim
Self-sufficiency is part of wholeness.
The Awareness That The Grass Is NEVER Greener On The Other Side Of The Fence
The Ability To Laugh At Yourself...
...and with others. A sense of humor is a great tonic for the mind and soul.
With decades of experience under your belt, you know how to move forward with courage and confidence.
Belief In, And Support Of, A Cause Higher Than Oneself
A Quiet, Verdant Place...
...to disappear and appreciate Mother Nature.
Eight Hours Of Sleep On A Regular Basis!
The Ripe Report
"That You Really Didn't Have To Put Up With All That Bs...
...and you are perfect just the way you are." --Esther Petrilli-Massey
"Hopefully A Wonderful Relationship...
...and 'true' self confidence and self esteem." --David M. Logan
"All Of The 'Stuff' Doesn't Matter."
"The big house you wanted...well, as you get older it gets empty. Then you want to downsize and purge the stuff!" --Patti McGee Thompson
"Know That Spark Inside That Connects You To What Really Matters."
"If you let it take the lead, you'll deepen toward more honesty, creativity, meaning, purpose and joy." --Christine Castigliano
"Their Own Bank Account"
"That Beauty Is Not One Size Fits All!"
--Patricia Crisafulli, Huff Post Blogger
"The Ability To Say 'No' Without Guilt."
"Successful Adult Children Who Do Not Live At Home."
"An Expensive Piece Of Jewelry That Was Purchased By Herself."
"A really good sex life with a least one partner (past/present) a knowledege that info. constantly changes and we have to keep moving with it." --Linda
"Have The Courage To Stand Up For What You Believe In Without Fear Or Apology."
"A Relationship With The God Of The Universe."
"Reconciliation With 'MOM' Whether She Is Alive Or Deceased."
"What Other People Think Of You Is None Of Your Business!"
'Don't Sweat The Small Stuff', Don't 'Spin Your Wheels' Over The Insignificant....
"The ability to prioritize what is important, will truly impact your life, or has significant negative consequences vs what is just an 'issue' that gets under your skin, or a perceived problem that is more trouble than it truly is worth. We often tend to get wound-up about things that really aren't as important as we think they are. If we stop and think---'Will this truly have a positive or negative effect on my life (or others'), or is it just something that is bugging me and I'm spinning my wheels trying to deal with it?'" --Chris
"Her Own Income."
"How To Keep Her Heart Healthy."
"Having The Confidence To Take Your Own Self Out To Dinner...
...when no one is available to go with you." --"Lucy and Ethel"
"By 50 A Woman Should Take A No Guilt Day At Home In Her Jammies Whenever She Needs One."
"Regularly Scheduled Manicures, Pedicures And Fresh Flower Deliveries."