In this series we’ve been doing on honesty in relationships and marriage, it’s easy to get stuck on focusing too much on all the tough, hard-to-talk-about stuff. Sometimes — more times than we think — we need to focus on communicating the positive honestly.

So on this Valentine’s day, a great day for expressing what your loved one means to you, I thought I’d share some tips for doing just that while also sharing my own note to Corrie.

Every year I try to come up with some unique way to give a note, so this is my attempt to be different this year. I know this might come across like my examples (notes to Corrie) are just for training purposes, but they are honestly what I’d write to her in any other note. Of course, I can’t share everything about how great she is with everyone. Some things about your relationship should be sacred — just between the two of you. But one of our purposes for this website is to share our lives as openly as possible. We believe real life, real stories, real examples have the most impact.

1: The positive is easily overlooked, so spend some time looking.

Observe your relationship. Think through the big-picture stuff and ways you’re thankful for who your significant other is on an everyday level.

Note to Corrie

Big picture, I love that you aren’t as focused on the big picture as much as I am. I appreciate how you bring me back to the moment and help us enjoy life together in the present. Through all my ideas, successes, and failures, you’ve been my biggest fan. I know I can count on you to advocate for me and to always want the best for me. Thank you for being there for me.

Everyday, I appreciate your willingness to love me in everyday kinds of ways. Cooking especially comes to mind. You’ve spent hundreds of hours making meals for us (some just for me because we have different tastes). I love your cooking. I’m also glad we’ve grown in enjoying different kinds of food together and that we both focus on being healthy in our diet. Everyday, I appreciate that you help me laugh at myself. And I have to admit that I have fun laughing at you too. Your smiling spirit affects everything and everyone around you.

2: Recent life is most easily remembered. Use that truth to express your very present love.

We walk through different seasons of life. Your recent experience in life together might call for positive words of thanks, excitement, or honor.

Note to Corrie

Wow, we’ve had to journey through a lot of emotions the past few months! We’ve gone through so much in a short period of time, and you’ve been so strong through it all. But more importantly, you’ve shown me a different way to process; you’ve helped me remember to take time and to feel deeply. I believe our difference in the area of processing is for the benefit of our marriage, and I’m thankful for who you are. I admire the way your heart is moved. Like I always tell you, God has a special relationship with you, and I believe part of the reason for that is how He has created your heart to respond.

Thank you for celebrating with me and mourning with me during this season. Thank you for being willing to have so many conversations about my ideas and thoughts about the future. I know it’s been overwhelming lately (even for me), but you’re so willing to listen and think through things with me. That means more to me than you know.

3: Every person is different. How you communicate positively to each other should be different.

Each man or woman is different in what they like to hear or how they like to receive positive words. As a general rule, men want to know they are respected and seen. Women want to know they are loved and recognized. Everyone wants to be honored.

Note to Corrie

I tell you this a lot, but everyone should probably know: You are the best. You are beautiful. You are above the rest, and you always will be.

At times recently, your eyes have captured me like it’s the first time.

4: Remember that communicating the positive isn’t just for holidays; it’s for every day.

We talk a lot on this site about the importance of being open and vulnerable in relationship. A lot of times, people struggle with being able to open up to each other. But some of that difficulty stems from the lack of positive words spoken in the relationship. So it’s all connected in the end.

Note to Corrie

I know this is a holiday, so it’s easy for me to focus on the positive. Sorry for my lack of focusing on these things at times. I want you to always remember that my love for you is every day, every hour.

Hopefully this note is a simple reminder of that truth.