When NOT to say "I love you"

Now that Mr Chong has impressed us all with his Dummies’ Guide to Romance, I really must give him an A in the romance department. By the way, everything he has written about is true, although some have since ceased to apply, heh. These gestures don’t have to be extravagant or require boatloads of ka-ching ($$$).

Mr Chong’s prized CD of jazz songs got cut off halfway.

He’d make the wrong turn and lose his way when trying to bring me to a new romantic spot.

We’d forget to bring insect repellent for a trip to a mangrove swamp, and I’d spend the next two weeks feverishly scratching 58 insect bites worsened by eczema.

It may not have been perfect, but each little surprise spoke volumes about how much he loved me and was willing to change for me, from a guy whose idea of courtship was going to church together, to a gentleman who loved to pamper and serve his girlfriend even in the tiniest of ways.

Speaking of love, for the past year, I’ve been following the blog of this amazing woman who, at the ripe old age of 25, is a stay-home mum of FOUR kids. Last year, she and her husband were taking flying lessons when her Cessna crashed and exploded into flames, leaving her with fourth-degree burns over 85% of her body. (Third-degree burns penetrate the upper and lower epidermis; fourth-degree burns penetrate the bone itself.)

Over the past month, Stephanie Nielsen has been in the hospital undergoing surgery, so her husband, whom she affectionately terms Mr Nielsen (hmm.. I see a pattern), took over her blog. The love they have for each other is so inspiring and rare. In one of his posts, Mr Nielsen is describing how he prepares a bath for Stephanie, whom he calls "my girl". His entries are peppered with exclamations like "she is such a sweetheart" and "I love this woman!".

Which led me to think about my Mr Chong, of course.

Mills once told me that if a guy blurts out an "I love you" during the strangest, most random and unlikely of moments, chances are, he truly means it. It is an "I love you" that has caused him to let down his guard, bypass his impulse controls, and temporarily suspend all rational decision-making abilities (be warned that the average male possesses such qualities in extremely limited supply anyway).  In short, it is an "I love you" that is heartfelt, genuine and comes with no strings attached.

The first time Mr Chong said "I love you" was after I had met his parents for the first time. As usual, Mr Chong sent me home. Before we got out of the car, he looked at me seriously, and said, "Dear, I think I’m ready to say this now… I wasn’t sure before, but now I know."

He paused, then whispered, "I love you."

Now it was my turn to pause.

"Erm," I sputtered, caught off-guard, "Thank you."

Since then it has become a running joke between us, where Mr Chong will tell me he loves me, and I will thank him for saying so.

Here are some other times when those three magical words have spilled out, for better or for worse:

During an argument

During a cushion fight in the hall

When I say something silly (which happens fairly often- in such cases, Mr Chong’s "I love you" is usually prefaced with "You’re so cuuute!"… I can hear all my feminazi counterparts groaning!)

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In between bites of nasi briyani (and he’s still chewing!)

Out of the blue, when we are blogging or looking at lesson plans

"Good morning" text messages

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"Good night" text messages

Watching the sun set on Mount Faber

While holding hands in a movie theatre

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When we are stuck in a traffic jam and he suddenly looks over and smiles

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