I never used to tell my parents that I loved them, neither one of them. But as I grew older, I guess I started thinking that the last time I spoke to them could REALLY be the last time, ya know?
I was over 30 when I started trying to say it sometimes, (and I know they were maybe a bit surprised, and it helped them to open up a bit more in the affection department, I think,) and really by age 35 it was very easy to say, and now it is a part of my conversations.
Funny, I have always been very affectionate with my own children, and they say it frequently. It may be an age or generational thing, when my parents were children, it probably wasn't normal to be very affectionate, then with me, they were a little affectionate, and I am very affectionate and my children are too, LOL.
I hope my ramblings have somehow shed some light on your dilemma...