I’ve been married for almost 20 years and I’m so grateful for my wife. She has put up with me all this time; she probably deserves some kind of an award!
Along the way, I’ve learned some things about relationships, specifically the power of our words.
What we say to our significant other can create peace and connection, or hurt and rejection. Our words are so powerful!
I have created some boundaries regarding the things I say in my marriage. There are certain words or phrases that just never bring anything good to a relationship.
So I decided to eliminate them from my vocabulary.
And I’ve never looked back! My marriage is better off without these three phrases:
Don’t ever tell your partner how to react in any situation, or shame them for feeling a certain way. In the same vein are, “Calm down,” or “You’re being too sensitive.”
Usually, this is an attempt to defuse their anger and take the aggression out of a situation. But what ends up happening is that they actually feel more angry or more defensive. The very reaction you’re trying to avoid is the very reaction you’ll create by using these phrases!
Instead, it’s important to try to just listen carefully when your partner is feeling emotional. Once they feel heard and seen, they’ll feel less compelled to have an emotional response to your behavior. You could also say, “I see you’re feeling angry about this. Help me understand what’s going on.”
“Always” + “Never”
Don’t speak in absolutes. “You never do anything romantic.” Or, “You always spend too much money.” This type of language is almost never truthful and always insulting. (See what I did there…)
The reality is, no one always does anything, even though it may feel like it. Instead, try to focus on an isolated example and how it made you feel. For example, “You left your dirty clothes on the floor. It’s so helpful to me when you clean up after yourself. I feel like you don’t care about me very much when you leave messes that I have to clean up.”
Don’t bring hyperbole into your conflict. Stay focused on what actually happened and have the courage to admit how it made you feel.
“I want a divorce.”
Well, this one is pretty self-explanatory!
Look, marriage is hard and every relationship has its ups and downs. In those ‘down’ seasons, it’s tempting to focus on how badly you want out, or how you feel like the marriage was a mistake.
In the midst of a heated discussion, it might feel good to really hit ‘em hard with the statement that you want a divorce. But the depth of the hurt those words can cause isn’t worth it. Keep the discussion focused on how you’re feeling and what changes you are seeking in the relationship.
Make peace the goal of conflict, not getting even or causing pain.
If your situation does not improve, it may be time to include the wise counsel of a pastor or professional marriage counselor. They can help you and your spouse navigate the complexities of relational restoration.
Let’s remember the power of words, and that avoiding certain phrases can set us up for healthy conflict resolution in our marriages.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” -Ephesians 4:29