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 gamemaster (marriage counselor)

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, Humor and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

70 Responses to The “I Love You” Game

  1. Beautifully expressed and after 45 years with my wonderful spouse, I get it. Thank God for HUGE favors.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Victoria says:

    Thanks, Mitch. Lovely, wise. Hubs and I have done the ‘level’ dance. I don’t know how many times….and this?
    “…you have a new love for her. A level two love”
    So good! 💝

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Prayers for you and your friend’s conversation, that his heart will be receptive and your words are infused with God’s wisdom and grace, like this post.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thanks Mitch – both for the wise counsel that I can share with others and I can remind myself of… so I can be the ‘friend’ that I counsel.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Dr. Ernie says:

    I’ve been reflecting that Revival is simply “Falling in love with Jesus,” and I love the idea of reframing that as infinite multi-level game!

    Liked by 5 people

  6. God bless your friend with this kind of wisdom!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. There’s no ceiling on those levels if you’re willing to do the work. Loved this post, Mitch. You’re a good friend!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. We “love” this . It is exactly how it is. I’ll be sharing this multi – level game with your permission . Thank you . May your friend use it too.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. “I don’t love you because you deserve it, I don’t love you because you think you can earn it, I love you because that’s who I am,… Let love win” a friend singer/writer Jon Thurlow Norm

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Such wisdom born from experience. Sad to say, there was no meeting in our case. US didn’t stand a chance against the new love.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. scbilder says:

    This is very sweet. I couln’t agree more and I wish more people were able to have conversations like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Nancy says:

    Ah yes such wisdom! Bob and I lived it until he stepped into glory and I’m so blessed to have gone the distance … until death did we part.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I love the way you tell it, Mitch – falling in love over and over (Great for people who love falling in love) – just always doing it with the same person. 😉
    I had a similar conversation with a neighbor whose wife was my best friend at the time.
    “I just don’t love her anymore.”
    “WHAT? When did you decide to stop loving her?”
    “I didn’t decide. It just happened.”
    “No, love is a choice. You decided.”
    “But I just don’t feel the same way about her.”
    “‘Feel’? What does that have to do with love? Choose to love her again and see if the feelings come back.”
    (He didn’t take my suggestion. :/ )

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Nancy Ruegg says:

    “Re-new, not new, is the key to the game.” SO true, and so well said, Mitch. Your logic presented with humor is genius. Part of the re-new is making memories together so you can say, “Remember when . . .” and they do. It’s knowing each other so well you can finish each other’s sentences. It’s the joy of team effort through challenges, and celebrating again and again the victories, and more. None of these occur without the perseverance to re-new. So many miss out.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Kara Luker says:

    Well said!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Some very good thoughts expressed. I would always say, go back and do the things you did at the start and rekindle your friendship. The principle in Rev.2 Prioritise.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I love your writing because you teach and inspire me with your creative use of words. Great job with this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Andi says:

    I enjoyed this post very much. I’m also greatly honored that you read one of mine. Thank you. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This would be a great read for any couple in turmoil.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. trE says:

    Okay, now this is good! I especially love the ending of the possibly impending conversation. It made me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Love this, Mitch. It’s really challenging to consider “us” has a vote, too. My 2nd marriage is definitely an eye opener in terms of falling in love with all the new versions of my husband I get to see xx

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Unicorn Dreaming says:

    Good advice.. I totally agree.. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Beautiful advice! And so true. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. revruss1220 says:

    Perfect! I hope he heeds your sage advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Karen :) says:

    Mitch, I appreciate the way you lift up the holiness and honor of marriage – for it IS a sacred gift – but I am SO very grateful that God also offers forgiveness and mercy in order that we may have abundant life. I divorced my first husband 20 years ago and later found true joy and partnership with my current husband of 15 years. Sometimes we make mistakes, and I believe that God mercifully doesn’t expect us to remain in our poor choices. My husband and I thank God every day for our life together. Most likely my story is different from your friend’s story… I just wanted to share a thought from the other side. Thanks, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Lisa Bernard says:

    “Nobody can stay new …” So profound. A real eye-opener to moving forward in relationships, not just marriage. Negotiating the boundaries with adult kids, siblings and so on. Powerful, practical post. A keeper, for sure. Thanks, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. #hood says:

    44:06 says 1st & last matt


  28. jmfayle says:

    Loved this! Great job, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. c.f. leach says:

    Enjoyed your take on the Wizard of Oz. I did a book on it called “Where In Oz Is The Church: Are You On the Right Path?” You never cease to amaze me my friend. Blessings and Peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Great insights into the challenges of relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Mitch, I appreciate your wisdom, and I pray that your friend will stay.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Wonderful and insightful conversation Mitch

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Stacey says:

    This is awesome! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Loved this post!!!! It is such a unique perspective. I am sharing on Facebook.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Wow, never saw it in this light

    Liked by 1 person

  36. LindaCat says:

    I just shared this with a loved one whose marriage is on the rocks. I shared it to my FB page last week or the week before, the first time I read and fell in love with it! Your wisdom is so wise 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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