A metaphor is a figure of speech that implies a connection between two things. It can create a word picture that grabs the listener’s attention and helps that person “see” what you are saying. It can also convey the emotions behind your words to clarify your message, making it an effective relationship tool.

Common Metaphoric Messages

You probably use metaphors in your relationship without giving their use a lot of thought, notes relationship teacher Gary Smalley in “Introduction to Emotional Word Pictures.” You’ve may have heard or said “Our hearts beat as one,” “We’re on the same wavelength,” “You get me” or “You’re the other half of my heart.” Your boyfriend easily understands these metaphors because the words create a clearly understood mental picture. You can adapt a metaphor to his interests, such as sports: “Your glove catches me every time” or “I don’t like it when you do an end run around me.” The message can be positive or negative.

Love Is Alive

Some metaphors describe your love as something living, such as “I see our love growing through the years” or “Without communication and attention, our love dies.” You can describe your feelings metaphorically, such as “When you look at me like that, I get butterflies in my stomach" or “My heart takes wing and flies when we’re together.” He might not have an easy time tossing metaphors back at you, but he can find some in literature, such as “This bud of love, by summer's ripening breath, may prove a beauteous flower when next we meet,” from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Love as an Investment

Becoming part of a romantic partnership is an investment of your time, energy and money, so it makes sense to talk about your love or relationship in monetary terms. Things you do for your sweetheart to improve the relationship, such as giving affection or performing acts of service, may be deposits in your love bank. Withdrawals from the bank with anger, disrespect and angry outbursts could leave the account overdrawn and in danger of being closed. Consistently meeting your love’s needs nets you a good return on your investment.

The Relationship Journey

Taking a journey together is an apt metaphor for two people in a relationship. You can walk hand in hand down the road of life, picking the flowers of love and blessings or tripping over the potholes formed by neglect and abuse. You can walk side by side, helping one another over obstacles and around detours to arrive at a mutual destination. You can ride along in a shiny, well-maintained automobile or stumble along on an old, broken-down nag -- you can choose the method of your transportation and journey.