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Do They Love Me? 20 Signs Your Spouse Is Still Head Over Heels
Experts break down how you can really tell they love you, even after all these years.
If your relationship with your significant other looks different today than it did when you first got together, you’re not alone. Regardless of when you started dating and subsequently tied the knot, there’s likely been changes in the activities you do together, the things you say to one another, and the overall dynamic between the two of you. And while it’s easy to remember the early days fondly and maybe even with fear that your partner is falling out of love, the good news is, there are plenty of signs to look out for that show your spouse is still head over heels.
According to Stan Tatkin, a psychologist and author of Wired for Love, the evolution of long-term marriages can lead to more subtle expressions of love compared to the passionate courting stage. These quieter demonstrations include everything from their body language, to how they argue, to thoughtful contributions around your home. They’re easy to miss, especially if you’re waiting around for those first-date butterflies or bold, impromptu romantic gestures, but that doesn’t make them any less meaningful. Here, Tatkin and other relationship experts explain the subtext behind these low-key signs that your partner is still madly in love with you.
As every relationship evolves, so too do the individuals in it. "The right partner is by your side for whatever new endeavor you take on. Whether it's a new hobby, or a career change, in a healthy relationship your partner will encourage you to grow and take risks," Dr. Morgan Anderson, relationship coach and clinical psychologist, tells Woman's Day. If they're continually curious about who you are and who you want to become, it’s a sign they really do care.
Even if you lost track of how many times they've said “I love you” years ago, you probably never get tired of hearing those three little words. According to Jaime Bronstein, a relationship therapist, coach, and host of “Love Talk Live”, saying these words isn’t just a force of habit.
“Many husbands out there get tired of saying 'I love you' and eventually stop, or they say it a lot less frequently,” Bronstein tells Woman's Day. That means that when they do express this genuinely, they know how important these words are, and what it means to you to hear them.
Not everything will be the same as the early days of the relationship, but Bronstein points out that it’s special to continue some gestures throughout the years. “When you're in the middle of your busy day at work, you get called to the reception desk for a 'delivery' and get surprised because your husband has sent you a dozen roses just because it's 'Tuesday,' you know that he is still head over heels for you," she says. By returning to early traditions, they're showing you that they feel just as strongly about you now as they did back then.
Initially in a relationship, it seems like both people are constantly doing things to make the other person happy, but sometimes this can fade. If your spouse is still making a conscious effort to be thoughtful, then you know they're still madly in love.
As Bronstein tells Woman’s Day, “You know that your man is still in love with you if he picks up your favorite latte at the out-of-the-way coffee shop (and he doesn't even drink coffee) just to see the smile that it brings to your face!”
When your spouse shows that they want you to feel protected, safe, and loved, you know they're coming from a place of deep affection. Some examples of this, according to Bronstein, include, “When you're walking down the street, he walks closer to the curb. He asks you to call him whenever you get somewhere so that he knows you got there safely. He carries things that are too heavy for you, and he captures scary spiders when they're about to 'attack' you!” By always having your back, your spouse is demonstrating that your wellbeing is their priority.
While each partner in the relationship will want to retain their individuality to a certain extent, one sign that they're deeply committed is the way they include you in decision-making. Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman, a psychologist, author of The Book of Sacred Baths, and host of The Love Psychologist podcast, tells Woman's Day that this can be thought of as a desire to co-create their future with you.
She explains that when it comes to important, life-altering topics, they'll "encourage you to weigh in and respect your point of view." It's a significant gesture because this means they "understand that your relationship and life together needs to be big enough to support the needs of both of you."
Dr. Sherman describes a love map as encompassing everything from who is important in your life, to what's going on at work, as well as your biggest fears, goals, and successes. She says that when your partner regularly recognizes and asks about the details of your love map, it's a powerful way of "supporting you in real time and becoming an intimate part of your inner world." It's a sign that you're important to them, because they're invested in all of the parts of your life that matter most.
According to research, says Dr. Sherman, in the happiest marriages spouses celebrate each other’s successes. This could be something as small as taking you out to dinner after a great work meeting or a promotion. It's one of the most powerful signs that they're still head over heels, she explains, because, "you feel loved when your partner notices your little wins and makes you feel like they are your champion and believe in you."
Damona Hoffman, an OkCupid Dating Coach and Host of The Dates & Mates Podcast, tells Woman's Day that another important sign that your spouse still cares is their tendency to defend you when times get tough. She explains that, "The world can be scary, crazy, and unkind" whether in the form of "social media daggers or even in conflicts with your own family or friends." Especially as our culture becomes further divided on issues "from race, to LGBTQ rights to reproduction laws," Hoffman says that "a true life partner will stand behind you and advocate for your beliefs."
Conflict is inevitable even in the most successful long-term relationships, and as Hoffman notes, "the key is how your partner reacts if something is wrong." Favorable reactions include a general willingness to compromise, or even some sessions in couples' therapy. Hoffman shares that based on data from OkCupid, therapy is more widely being used as a tool for happy couples as well as those on the rocks, with 61% of OkCupid users believing it's a good resource. "Nothing says love like your partner being willing to do the work and go to therapy with you," she stresses.
When they're sitting across from you at dinner, your spouse isn't on their phone or glancing elsewhere. They're looking you right in the eyes, attentively listening to everything you have to say.
According to research by psychologist Zick Rubin, couples who are deeply in love with each other look at each other 75 percent of the time, while regular people conversing only look at one another 30-60 percent of the time. In other words, strong eye contact shows that they're truly interested in everything you have to say.
It's easy to take this as a sign of disinterest, but Paul Coleman, a psychologist and author of Finding Peace When Your Heart Is in Pieces, says that when men are in love, they usually appear less enthusiastic than women do. This is because of their lower levels of serotonin, according to research published in the Journal of Psychophysiology.
"The amount of serotonin you have in your body as a woman makes you act happy and show it more," Coleman tells Woman's Day. "But because men's levels aren't as high, they don't feel the need to do that — they're happy showing you love by agreeing to do whatever it is you want to do, even if it's just sitting next to you and watching TV." Rather than being frustrated because you're the one coming up with date night ideas, look at it as an opportunity to branch out and try something different.
It's part of the norm to call each other "babe" or "honey" throughout the day, but Tatkin says that if they say your first name in the midst of sex, it's a sign that they're fully present in the moment with you and don't want to be intimate with anyone else. Another clue is eye contact in the bedroom, as Tatkin says it shows that they're interested and only thinking about you.
When you first got together, they couldn't keep their hands off of you, no matter the time of day. If you've been married for many years, it's possible that this is no longer the case. Not to worry, Tatkin says, as they may just express their love differently.
"At the beginning of all successful relationships, the constant excitement of new love produces a lot of dopamine, which is the same neurotransmitter that's stimulated when a drug addict takes their drug of choice," he explains. "It's exhilarating, but temporary."
Quiet love, on the other hand, comes into the picture when that exhilaration starts to fade. "It's a calm but alert state couples get into when they're fully relaxed and engaged with one another," he says. So, they still love you, they just show it in other ways.
We can all think of a time when your best friend was having a party and your spouse truly didn't want to go. But how did they react? If they didn't give you grief, then they're showing you love.
"When you say that you really want him with you and then he just puts on his party clothes without grumbling, he's putting aside his own preferences and tastes to make you happy," Sophia Dembling, author of Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After, tells Woman's Day. They wouldn't do that if they didn't love you, proving that sometimes what they don't say speaks louder than what they do.
Another way to prove they're still head over heels for you is by letting you win an argument. "He puts you ahead of having to be right because he knows that any delay in fixing misunderstandings or hurt feelings can lead to a long-lasting memory that doesn't bode well for your future," Tatkin says. So when they wave a white flag, they're not doing it out of laziness — they just don't want to see you upset. Next time you find yourself in this situation, take a step back and consider whether it's more important to be right or resolve the issue.
RELATED: 12 Things You Should Never Do After a Fight With Your Partner
We're all guilty of being glued to our phones. But when your spouse actively cuts technology out of their daily routine to spend time with you, it's a sign that they still want to connect, Fawn Weaver, author of Happy Wives Club, tells Woman's Day. "When a man loves a woman, no matter how demanding his job, he knows how to put his phone down, close his laptop, and give his undivided attention," she says. "There is a consistent effort to put his love ahead of his career and friends."
Now, that doesn't mean they're going to drop what they're doing at the exact second you want them to, but if they make a concerted effort to carve out quality time for the two of you without tech, then they're still very much into you.
When you've been together for years, it's obvious that your spouse knows your likes and dislikes. But if you want to know if they love you, see how they adjust to your "irritation triggers."
"If he knows the three or four things that will always hurt you or put you off balance, and then knows just what to do to either avoid them or get you up and running again when they do happen, then consider him your antidote," Tatkin says.
So rather than picking a fight because it's "your turn" to take care of the dishes, you're more likely to find them loading up the machine before bed. Just remember to return the favor and handle something that drives them batty — or at least consider taking dish duty as a thank you, because we bet they don't love that chore, either.
Sure, every couple has those drag-out fights, but even in the darkest of times, your spouse never says the word "divorce." Tatkin explains that a happy spouse doesn't threaten their relationship even when they're upset, frustrated, or incredibly angry.
"Nothing good can come from threatening the relationship or making you feel like it may not exist in the near future," Tatkin says. Instead, they've learned how to communicate through issues healthily, because of course, you'll still have a few fights here and there.
Though you may rule the household with shared Google calendars and group text messages, if your spouse still makes an effort to surprise you with things they know will brighten your day, then they still love you lots, Weaver says.
"This isn't about expensive gifts. Oftentimes it's something as simple as bringing home a favorite candy or carton of ice cream, or picking up tickets when you mentioned you wanted to see a certain movie," she says. The point is that they're thinking of ways to keep your relationship fresh and fun, and showing you that they still remember the little things that make you smile.