The “I Love You” Game


I have a friend who’s unhappy in his marriage and is thinking of leaving. This is the conversation I hope to have with him.

“What should I do?” he asks, not really wanting to hear the answer.

“Put it to a vote.”


“How would she vote?”

“Well, right now she’s hurt.”

“And the other two? They get a vote.”

“What other two? We don’t have kids.”

“God. He invented the thing, so guess what his vote will be.”

“Yeah.” He rolls his eyes. “And?”



“The person you created when you became ‘one flesh.’ Remember? The preacher said, ‘You are no longer two, but one. And, therefore, what God has joined together, let no one tear apart’ (Matthew 19:6). So you know how Us is gonna vote. Oh, and by the way, you already voted when you promised not to tear Us apart.

“But I don’t think I love her anymore.”

“Oh, you will again.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because I’ve been there too many times to count. Call a meeting. You may not get a re-vote, but you do have a right to call meetings. Then lay your heart before Us, and ask your wife to do the same. Us will probably cry or get angry, because that’s what Us does when it comes out of hibernation. But once you remember you don’t have a re-vote, you’ll realize—

“That I’m trapped?”

“No, that you’re free! Free to rediscover this amazing thing that’s part you, part her, and part the One who invented it. And once you start feeding it, it’ll get healthier and more interesting; you two are always changing, so Us is always changing. Which is what makes The ‘I Love You’ Game so appealing–and challenging; it’s all about newness and discovery.”

“The ‘I Love You’ Game?”

“Yeah. But don’t try to drum up that feeling with someone else (infatuation). Nobody can stay new, so stop deceiving yourself that they can; it’s a loser’s strategy. Quit trying to get back to square one—level up! And do it together, because that’s the only way you can move forward. Re-new, not new, is the key to the game.* Then one day you’ll look at her and realize—”

“That I still love her?”

“No, that you have a new love for her. A level two love.”

“And that’s permanent?”

“No, it’s never permanent.”

“But I want—”

“To fall in love, yes. But to do that you have to be out of love.”


“So you can fall back in love. Over and over again. Level three, level four, level five…”

“That’s possible?”

“It’s not just ‘possible.’ It’s how the game works!”

“What level are you at?”

“Somewhere in the triple digits. And trust me, it’s infinitely better than repeating level one over and over again. So, are you ready to put it to a vote?”

“I’ll lose.”

“Yep. Which means—”

“I win?”


*P.S. I also recommend a good referee (marriage counselor)

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Quips and Quotes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to The “I Love You” Game

  1. lifepunchesback says:

    Your post was very inspirational to me. I️ definitely agree that you fall in love multiple times throughout a long marriage. They key is to stick together.

    Liked by 9 people

  2. Karisa Moore says:

    Your words bring to life the clear and delightful bonds of marriage! I am leveling up!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Smiling… it would be nice if this is how it actually works, but I think marriage is hard work and BOTH people have to be committed to wanting to go to a “new level.” We only live one life and I don’t think someone should be “guilted” into staying married if they are not happy. Marriages are like businesses, you put a lot of time and effort into making a marriage or business work, but sometimes it just won’t work.

    I see a lot of people bragging that they are married over 40 years, but they are not happy and they don’t even hold hands or say kind words about each other anymore, BUT they can brag that they are still married.

    The best marriages are those that have good communication and humor is helpful!! My humble opinion. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • 52 years in my marriage, guess it’s extra innings here. Have always agreed with the communication and I give that advice whenever asked. And you know, I’ve actually been asked a lot. You want something bad enough, you have to work at it, every day. Today is my 242 Birthday, well, the Marine Corps anyway. Semper Fi my brothers and sisters.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Congratulations! I liked your comment, “you want something bad enough, you have to work at it, every day!” This is exactly what I think about marriages. If people love each other, just like with our children, we KNOW we need to make that extra effort and we ONLY do that if we really want it! Unfortunately, it takes 2 people to really want it bad enough to make it work. Wonderfully said!!

        And another congratulations and HUGE THANK you for your service in the Marine Corps!!!

        Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      BrilliantViewpoint, I certainly didn’t mean to give the impression that the marriage game can be played by just ONE of the partners; the man in the above account has a wife who is still committed, so if he jumps back in BOTH will be playing the “game.” I’m sorry you don’t believe “this is how it actually works..” My wife–and most of the long-married people I know–have been doing just that for decades. And I do indeed hope to “guilt” (convince) the man in the true story above to hang in there–because his marriage deserves saving!

      Liked by 4 people

      • Mitch, if you read my two responses, you would have seen that I said it is important for TWO people to play the game.

        Seems to me that is what you are acknowledging in your message now. The reason I said “it would be nice if this is actually how it works,” is because TWO PEOPLE have to play the game. If one person is trying their heart out and the other person gives the silent treatment, walks off, doesn’t talk… WELL, it’s hard to make headway.

        Like the person below my comment said, “you have to want it bad enough,” THEN you can BOTH play the game, because you BOTH love each other and DO NOT want to see the other person suffer.

        So, it’s very noble of you to try and encourage the man to play the game… YES, I think ALL of us want to see marriages stick together, but we also do not want people to be “guilted” into staying in a marriage when they only live “one life” and maybe this marriage was not the best for them. ONLY they can make that decision for themselves.

        We do not know the pain people suffer in their hearts when they are not happy for years and years.

        I’m a firm believer of communication, respect, trust, admiration, etc. — 2 people wanting to make it work. That’s what it takes.


    • Both parties have to put in work to make it the best marriage it can be, agreed.

      Liked by 3 people

    • You both open some deep places… and I am open to your insight(s). I think I have to first connect to who I really am–with only my Creator/Source as the point of reference–before I can make things right in marriage (over 25 years in my case). Other men have certainly flattered my ego and offered an “out” for the things I face as a family member, but I really have nothing to escape from except for my own insecurities. I married a kind man, but we have drifted apart many times and in many ways. Coming home to me, to God, and to my husband… It is one big bundle that cannot be separated.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you for sharing your message. Life is a journey for ALL of us with every journey being different for each person, each couple, etc. If we are prayerful then the answers we seek come to us. I wish you and your family much happiness.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Mimi Seton says:

    Nice piece, Mitch.  I tried to comment but your site wouldn’t accept my URL – they keep saying PUT IN A URLwhich I did up until the frustration told me to get on with my day.Be well ~Mimi

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Mischenko says:

    This is such a wonderful and inspiring post. Marriage can be so hard and it definitely takes two people to make it work. One of my favorite movies is “Fireproof” and the book as well.

    Thanks so much for sharing this. ❤ 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow. The “Us” thing…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ahhhh, Amen! Love this.

    I like to go with, “we’ve both changed so much, this is like an opportunity for two complete strangers to start a heated affair and enjoy falling in love all over again.” Go meet somewhere strange and pretend you just met.

    All in good fun, we also often go with the, “you’re already married to so many multiple personalities, there’s no personalty out in the world that won’t soon be taking up residence here anyway.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. says:

    What do you call it when you’re in the second half of a century.? I wouldn’t be able to count the digits❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amen, I love this post! As someone who has been divorced and re-married (to the same person!) I can so relate to the falling out of love and back in love with my husband over and over again. We’re going on 18 years together now, minus the 2 years were were divorced. It is work, and sometimes hard, but worth it. Especially because of the Us factor 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      So glad you weighed in on the subject, and delighted to hear you re-enlisted! A huge percentage of people bale on marriage to search for “new love” (infatuation), and never learn what it’s like to live in a continually re-newed love.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Soo true, Mitch! I hope you get to have this conversation with your friend. Excellent post, as always. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So Beautifully said. Though I am not married and cannot compare to it, I too have been in a relationship for the past 7 years and felt like I dont have that love anymore. I felt that staying in that relation only hurt each other emotionally. But through all those emotions my commitment to live or die with him kept me going through them. When I felt like I lost the love and cried and invited God into our relationship, it changed us and our relationship. Now I am finding a new found love for him. As I read this post I find myself going to level two. Waiting for many more levels. Thanks for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Magnificent post, Mitch. The talk is a must.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. alexankarr1 says:

    I like Joel Osteen’s story, about talking to a husband in a (non-abusive) marriage with the shine gone off it, complaining about his wife and talking about divorce. Osteen told him to go back and try praising his wife on a regular basis. Some time later he met the same man again, and asked how his advice had gone, and if he still found his wife subpar and annoying. I can’t remember the exact response, but the gist is that the man drew himself up, very offended, and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about! My wife is a queen amongst women!” All from praising instead of complaining…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. numrhood says:

    matthew 44:06 i am the 1st blood, i am the last dragon, we have heard your prayers.

    was it matthew 44:06
    o psalm 44:01 refuge & strength


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  16. E says:

    I could sense your lightness as you encouraged your friend. New love, I’ll remember that.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Roos Ruse says:

    I hope you got the chance – and that he got the message. No kidding, this is the best marriage counsel I’ve heard so far, Mitch. It’s bookmarked and ready to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Can’t even begin to tell you how AWESOME this is, and so filled with truth. After 43 1/2 years, we’re probably in the triple digits too… and it’s been an amazing adventure!!! Lots of wounds and healing, rough and smooth patches, hills and valleys… but a wonderful life all the same! God’s way is always the most excellent… And as you said so well, it is there that we are truly free! 🙂 Thank you Mitch for another great read! 👍🏻👍🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  19. So great… I posted it to my “Marriage – Ephesians 5:33” FB page. Blessings!!!

    “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Gal. 5:6

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

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  21. khushijhon says:

    This is inspiring . Hope you don’t I mind if I share? Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

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  23. I really enjoy reading great stories about love and marriage. This was really nice to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Nobody can stay new! I love that…it’s so true. I’m glad i read this (not married but i would be someday so this is definitely going to help me some day when i remember this wise phase)

    Liked by 1 person

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