18. We love each other.
So I have written two posts about how my wife and I treat each other respectfully.
I have also written about how we treat each other as desirable and romantic.
Next I need to write about how we treat each other as loveable.
Why? Because people have three metaphorical "water skins" that when filled cause full happiness and wholeness: to be respected, to be loved, and to be desired.
Between spouses, loveable mostly means deserves to be spoiled. Most of how my wife and I love each other—how we show the other that he or she is loveable—is by spoiling each other. We make each other laugh. We give each other our undivided attention. We encourage each other. We prepare yummy food for each other. We give each other surprise presents. We sometimes give each other expensive and ephemeral luxuries (she usually wants flowers, I prefer very dark chocolate). We serve each other with domestic tasks that reduce the other's menial laboring. We leave each other little notes expressing thanks and affection. We support each other's hobbies. We put up with each other's annoying habits. We give each other long backrubs in front of a warm fireplace.
Loveable also means deserves to be appreciated. We validate each other's concerns and needs. We compliment each other's accomplishments. We appreciate each other's presence. We are very grateful when the other cares for us when hurting or weak. We trust each other with our vulnerabilities.
Finally, loveable for spouses is also about sexual intimacy. There is a reason people call it "making love" and not just "having sex" when done properly.
Tangentially, all that is why most books about improving marriages are half-baked. Those books tend to focus on showing love and say very little about showing respect and desire. (Also, I just listed a lot more than five "love languages"!)
Similarly, most advice about making a positive first impression is half-baked. You need not say the right words: any words will do. You need not "be yourself" (whatever that means): it is not about you. You need not worry about whether you will succeed: you cannot fail if you make someone feel respectable, loveable, and desirable. (But do minimize the desirable unless you intend to initiate a romantic relationship. Between friends just a single handshake or shoulder touch that communicates "you are not too icky to touch" is quite sufficient.)
UPDATE: I checked an in the previous seventeen parts of this series I never once mention loving my wife. That probably seemed very odd to a reader that did not know I was "saving up" the issue of love for its very own essay.