Happy couples regularly say "I love you," but those three little words alone aren't enough to keep the spark alive through the ups and downs of a long marriage.
To that end, we asked relationship experts to tell us the most important phrases husbands and wives can say to each other. Read them below:
1. "I am so lucky I married you."
"We all need affirmation and appreciation. We want to know that our spouse is in love with us and that they're happy they made the decision to be with us for a lifetime. We like to think that they're thinking about the marriage from time to time. And when this phrase gets blurted out every now and then, it makes a partner feel very loved." -- Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology and certified sexologist
2. “How can I help you?”
“People married for a half-century or more tell us to avoid the temptation to step in and try to solve your partner’s problems. Stop thinking of yourself as the 'white knight' who can fix everything. The key is to really listen to your partner and learn if he or she wants help – or just to be listened to. 'I’m there for you' is more effective than 'Here’s what you should do.'" -- Karl Andrew Pillemer, family sociologist and author of 30 Lessons for Loving
3. "I want you."
"Letting your spouse know you desire them in every way, including sexually, makes them feel seen and alive and keeps the flame burning between you." -- Celeste Hirschman, sex therapist and relationship coach
4. "What do you think?"
"This simple little phrase is surprisingly powerful, especially when talking about heated issues. I think of it as an invitation, setting the stage for an open-minded dialogue. 'What do you think?' says, 'I'm curious. Your point of view matters as much as mine.'" -- Winifred Reilly, licensed marriage and family therapist
5. "What would I do without you?"
"When you are sad or doubtful about events in your life, delivering this phrase to your partner is one of the most loving gifts you can give in a marriage. You are telling the person to whom you vowed to be with 'till death do we part' that you meant what you said -- that he or she is a necessary force that helps you feel happy and whole." -- Iris Krasnow, best-selling author of The Secret Lives of Wives
6. "You are so beautiful/handsome."
"Even though we do not want to be wanted only for our looks, we still want to be admired and sexually attractive to our spouse. Even if it's something like, 'I love when you wear that dress' or 'You look so handsome in that color,' a little remark like that can send a shiver through your partner even after many years of marriage." -- Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology and certified sexologist
7. "I'm sorry."
"When was the last time you heard someone say that to you? 'Sorry' has become a word we rarely hear today. Too many people are so protective of their image that acknowledging a mistake is impossible for them. Healthy marriages are built when two imperfect people are admitting and accepting of the mistakes we all make." -- Kurt Smith, therapist who specializes in counseling for men
8. “Tell me all about it.”
"If your partner has had an interesting experience, or gone on a trip, let him or her talk about it without interruption. Show genuine interest in that great conference she attended, his fishing trip with college buddies, or whatever it may be. Let your partner really tell the story – we all love being listened to!" -- Karl Andrew Pillemer, family sociologist and author of 30 Lessons for Loving
9. "I was wrong. You were right."
"This phrase is always successful in making your partner feel better about whatever conflict has just transpired. I use this phrase a lot -- even when I know my husband was wrong and I was right!" -- Iris Krasnow, best-selling author of The Secret Lives of Wives
10. "I accept you as you are."
"So often we see couples who think marriage is about changing your partner into the person you want them to be. Yet the most sustainable relationships are actually built on acceptance. It is only when you accept your partner for who they are that they feel safe enough to blossom. Plus, acceptance breeds honest, open communication and deeper intimacy." -- Danielle Harel, sex therapist and relationship coach
11. "I forgive you."
"Pretty regularly I hear partners in marriage counseling say their partner can recall every wrong they've ever made. When you can recite such a list, forgiveness hasn't happened. Forgiveness doesn't mean having no memory, but it does mean letting go of the hurt and the need to cite the wrong again and again." -- Kurt Smith, therapist who specializes in counseling for men