SHMILY has been a part of our marriage from as far back as I can remember. Early on my wife and I read a short article from a couple who regularly enjoyed showing each other acts of love. Each kind gesture was accompanied by a five-letter acronym “SHMILY.” The acronym stood for “See How Much I Love You?” It stuck with us.
At one time we had an object that we traded back and forth that indicated our love for the other. The SHMILY project has morphed into us including it with any act of service or a written message anytime it is done just to let the other know that it was purposefully done as an act of love. It is like a foot stomp or a throat clearing to let the other part of the relationship know that it was directly done for the sake of showing affection.
Over the years I have opened up the dishwasher (when it was my week to unload it) only to find it empty except for a handwritten SHMILY on a piece of paper. I have found my office littered with SHMILY “Post-It” notes all over the place. My car has been filled up with gas with only a SHMILY to indicate who did the loving act. When I step out of the shower I have found a towel set out for me and a finger-scrawled SHMILY on the foggy mirror. A welcome home note has awaited me on the door of my home with a SHMILY on the outside. I have opened up a kitchen cupboard door to find a SHMILY on homemade bread. On Valentine’s Day my office door was decorated by dozens of SHMILY notes. A favorite meal awaiting me at the end of my work day often has a SHMILY on the plate.
The couples I work with in counseling have frequently received the recommendation to do SHMILY-type acts of kindness, service and love. Life is short and has in it many negatives (that drain our emotional energy). It is necessary for us to counteract that negativity with loving behavior for our relationships to be healthy. In order for relationships to flourish, they not only need to have as much as possible the absence of “negative” but must include the presence of “positive.” A SHMILY action is indeed one of those positive items.
I want to my life (and the lives of my clients) to be filled with many SHMILY acts and messages given and received. I want everyone to know they are loved, especially my spouse. The way I see it, a SHMILY spouse is a happy spouse.
Bob Stahn has a general counseling practice. He specializes in relationship counseling and most recently PTSD and trauma.