Thursday, February 13, 2020

Five Ways to Say "I Love You"

One of our favorite things about working on Owl's Flower is creating the kind of love story we'd like to see more of. Herne and Iris's story has conflict and trouble, as any new romance will. But we work hard to offer alternative methods to dealing with those conflicts. It's a way to keep our stories from having lazy conflict, but also hopefully a way to show people that there are other ways to deal with issues in relationships.

Our next book will be Valentine's Day themed. As you may have noticed, we're both working through a lot of projects — but we look forward to showing you more progress soon. In the meantime, we're celebrating with five ways to say "I love you," albeit not in so many words:

Respecting Requests

Sometimes you see someone you care about doing something self-destructive, something you know there's no good way out of. And if that time comes, it's right of you to say something. But other times, you aren't the expert. And those are the times when you show love not by ignoring your partner's request, but by respecting it.

This is a difficult distinction to draw, because it obligates us to separate facts from biases. Are you worried because you recognize a genuine problem? Or because you think you're smarter and they can't make an educated choice without you? We knew, for example, that Herne would never be objectively "wiser" than Iris just because he's a demigod and she's a human. And that's a conflict that comes up in their relationship. They learn that, while it's understandable to be protective of each other, that's only worthwhile if the concern isn't colored by bias.

Thinking About Your Arguments

After a fight, all we want to do is forget that fight happened and go back to normal. Tempers were high, something set us off, but now it's over and we've apologized and we can just go back to business as usual. Right?

Sometimes that's true. We've all had some pretty ridiculous fights. But sometimes, the things that come out when we're heated tap into very real issues. And as nice as it would be to just smooth over it, it might be a sign that we've touched on something that needs addressing. Not in another fight, no — in personal reflection.

Ideally, we raise concerns maturely, especially with people we love. But boiling points can happen for a reason. If something good can come out of those moments, rather than just bottling it back up, all the better.

Trusting First

One of the first things we agreed on when writing Owl's Flower was that there would be no conflict or drama through misunderstanding. You know the kind: overhearing a piece of conversation, or seeing your SO standing next to someone else, and using those incomplete puzzle pieces to assume they're cheating or don't love you anymore. (Misunderstanding for the sake of comedy? Completely acceptable.)

Herne and Iris trust each other on that most basic of levels: that they won't be unfaithful, and that if ever one of them begins to fall out of love (though don't expect that), they'll be honest about it. So Iris catching the back half of a sentence, or Herne seeing her chatting with a cute guy, won't drive them into the depths of despair.

If your partner is the sort you need to suspect, there's a bigger problem at play. Give them the gift of trust; and if you can't, then you need to find out why.

Asking Questions

Speaking of trust, and assumptions, there's basically one solid way to communicate when you have a question: ask the question.

Don't understand why they react to something the way they do? Ask. Or at least ask if there's anything they want to talk about. Confused about something they said? Ask. And, as before... if you feel you can't, or if you really can't, then there's a bigger problem at play.

Iris, naturally, has a lot of questions about Herne. They're not necessarily following our advice at every turn here. But in this case, they will. Or they'll try. After all, there are still a lot of things about Herne, and his past, that he hasn't put out there yet.

Saying Nothing

We've all had times when a problem couldn't be solved with quick thinking, advice, action, or anything short of a magic wand. In those times, all we wanted was someone with us. The knowledge that we're not alone, that there's someone there for us, who can just be present. In those moments, sometimes saying nothing is the best way to say "I love you."

It's also one of the hardest things on this list to do.

We feel the need to fix things, especially for people we love. We want that answer. We want to have that magic wand. Admitting we don't, that some things aren't in our power, is important — as well as noting that that doesn't make us any less valuable to the people we care about. If we're only in their lives because they think we can engineer solutions to all their problems, that's... you know, a problem.

It's all right to not know. It's brave to admit you can't necessarily be your partner's complete hero at all times in all ways. You can still be what they need in the moment.

Here's hoping all our readers have a fantastic day. Spend it with your loved ones, your families, your friends, or a good book or favorite movie. Dumb Baby also recommends cookies... but he always does.