Have you ever realized that some of the things you could be saying have an immediate and negative effect on your relationship/marriage? Whether you’re in a rocky place already, or you believe you have sustained a very healthy commitment. Some of the things you say you may not notice as damaging to your relationship. Like actions, words are just as hard to take back. But many times what we say isn’t exactly what we mean. But we can’t expect every person to understand what we mean in what we say.
The words you choose and the way you behave have a much bigger impact on a relationship than you may think. And in any relationship, it’s natural to get comfortable in all aspects – which is fine, in terms of being yourself with someone – but at times we need to reevaluate how our words could be affecting our spouse, and things that are said that will damage any relationship.
THINGS YOU SAY THAT WILL
DAMAGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP
I’LL JUST UP AND LEAVE – HOW ABOUT THAT?”
Basically any threat towards ending your relationship/marriage – whether you mean it or not. The threat is real once it is said. Because do you know what that means to your spouse? That there is an ultimatum being created, and that the relationship to you is easy to walk away from. So if you’re in a dispute – it’s heated – instead of allowing yourselves getting to the point of lashing out random things – take a deep breath, and walk away to cool down before the discussion proceeds. The last thing you need to do is jeopardize the strength and meaning of your relationship by threatening to walk away from it altogether.
“YOU’LL NEVER DO BETTER THAN WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE…”
This, no matter the situation, will always be a slap to the face. The meaning holds no true value, because really, anyone can find better than the person who says that to their spouse. Bottom line, don’t aim for below the belt – especially when it is directed towards one another’s dignity. Even when it is said the other way around, “I can always find better out there – do you know how lucky someone would be to have me?” – you’re still using a grand slam ending for disaster. Because guess what, if you’re spouse is smart, they will realize if those words can be used against them – they can do much better off without you.
“JUST SHUT UP AND LISTEN.”
This may not sound as harsh as you think. But imagine if your spouse said this to you every time you spoke. Maybe it’s the fact you actually don’t listen very well. But the ‘just shut up’ portion is the main factor. Not only does it mean a lack of respect, it also exudes a way of control. This goes for both arguments and regular conversation. You may have been able to use this phrase with your friends, out of humor or silly gestures, but in a relationship this phrase automatically releases in a form of disrespect to your spouse.
“MAYBE IF YOUR MOTHER WASN’T SO COLD AND HEARTLESS…”
Family can be a touchy spot in conversation. But many a times, as a couple, each person is bound to think that all unfiltered ends are open in communication. So whether your mother in law refused to show up to Christmas dinner because it wasn’t hosted at her house – it’s important to never subject yourself to using terms against her. To your spouse, yes, his mother may have been in the wrong for acting that way – but that gives you no right to tell him that she is a ‘heartless human being of a mother’. By talking down to his family, you are also talking down to your spouse.
Bottom line, keep all disgraceful family comments to a minimum. If it is in reaction to something that affects you personally, talk to your spouse about it. Explain your feelings in other words regarding the situation.
“I DON’T HAVE TIME TO TALK/HEAR ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS…”
You just returned home after a 14-hour work day, just to have to get up in 6 to work again. Your spouse immediately starts rambling on about something they’ve been trekking early on in the week, as you quickly throw down the towel, “I don’t have time to hear about your problems…” You’re tired, you just want to shower and stuff your face with food after a long work day – who wouldn’t understand that? But what your spouse hears is literally what came out of your mouth, maybe for the second time that week. Maybe you had been putting off this conversation for days – what does that look like in your spouse’s eyes? Avoidance. And it can get to the point where they wonder if you care about anything they say.
Life becomes stressful – no doubt about it. But if you’re constantly putting off your spouse, or refusing to listen or engage – you’re stepping on hot coals towards a much deeper issue – emotional distance. When simply saying ‘you don’t have time‘, that insinuates that you’re not going to make time. Instead, reassure your spouse that you hear them – that you want to talk about [insert problem/discussion/topic here] – and make it a priority in your busy lives.
“YOU NEED TO DO THIS/STOP THAT…”
This wordage leads to both nagging, and the intention of trying to demand change from your spouse. If you’re constantly telling your spouse, “You need to fix the sink, you need to take out the trash, you need to stop pulling the car in that way, you need to stop acting so immature, you need to step up around here with the kids,” just realize that you’re never going to get what you’re ‘demanding‘. You’re not a mother to your spouse. And by now, you’re not simply asking anymore. And whether this is the 10th time you’ve tried to get your spouse to fix the sink – demanding is no way about getting anything done.
Even when it comes to more of the emotional side, “You need to be more romantic, you need to stop holding in your feelings all the time, you need to be more affectionate,” the words ‘you need‘ are not the way to get inside your spouse. Think about what would spin your top if things were constantly demanded upon you.
At any point if things begin to sound like a demand, rather than an asking – your spouse will not readily comply. Remember the whole ‘it takes two’, ‘working as a team’ phrase? Well, utilize it to your advantage. Because sometimes that’s all it takes. And if not that, then try to understand that sometimes it’s not about what you say, but how you say it. Notice how your spouse reacts when you come off sounding flustered, annoyed or like a mother – for lack of better words.
Granted, as a woman – who am I to talk? When I ask nicely for my husband to do something the first time, and it doesn’t get done (weeks pass) – I’m flustered, too. Like our freezer – it leaks constantly, and needs to be defrosted monthly. He’s just good at fixing it – quick at it – and with me, I just don’t want to break it. So when I notice it leaks, I tell him it’s leaking, not ‘hey, fix this.’ Sometimes he fixes it that day, sometimes it’s weeks. Do I mention anything about it if it goes unfixed? Nope. Because honestly, he knows I spoke about it once already. And by now, I’m in the mindset of, ‘I’ll let the b**** leak until the freezer explodes before I say anything again.’ And when it gets bad enough (that he notices) – it gets done right away. Trust me, I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous. But to me, if there are some things not worth caring about to him – why should I??
And it’s like this – my husband is great. He’s my knight in shining armor. If I’m super busy at the house and I need a prescription picked up that day, I’ll ask him to pick it up for me on his way home from work – and it gets done, graciously. If I need a certain ingredient for dinner that I don’t have, and I ask him if he can get it – he gets it done, graciously. But if it takes him a few weeks to find the time to fix the damn freezer in between me and a 50+ hour work week – I think I can manage just fine.
Otherwise, for right now, I’ve learned this: coming off sounding demanding, bitchy and motherly does not make the situation any better. Even if he finally gets what you asked done – he now resents you. Stupid – I know – since you probably asked nicely the first time, and now it’s the 10th. But either way, there’s now tension created.
So, instead of using ‘you’, say ‘we’. If that sink needs fixing, and you’ve asked for it to get done more than once, it’s time to say, “[Spouse’s name], the sink is getting worse. How can we fix this?”
Or if your wishing for your spouse to up his romance game, it’s time to say, “[Spouse’s name], I always love when you cook a candlelit dinner – we should do that more often.”
Sometimes using ‘we’ instead of ‘you’, and a calm yet direct tone, can make the world of a difference.
“MAYBE IF YOU HELPED OUT MORE, I’D GIVE YOU MORE SEX!”
This is always a no-no, no matter what. First of all, never hold anything above your spouse’s head. Not only is it degrading, but it’s an utmost sign of intentional disrespect. And same goes for sex. So your spouse is wanting more intimacy, while you – tired at the end of each day – wish you could just simply have a little more help around the house, or some of the work alleviated so that you will have the energy for sex. All in good understanding here! But no matter how many times you use, “I’m tired – I am go-go-go nonstop all day, taking care of the kids, cleaning up after them – not tonight…”, it doesn’t change the fact your spouse still wants intimacy. It doesn’t matter how good it would feel saying “If you helped out more maybe I’d give you more sex”, or how much truth implies to that meaning – never, ever have an ultimatum for sex.
There’s a reason you’re married, whether with or without kids. If you’re tired, and can’t find the energy or time for sex – you have every right to let your spouse know this, and to rationally figure out a way to settle this faulty hiccup. Whether it’s making extra time, eliminating something you do a couple days a week (the gym, the dry cleaners, stop offering to walk your neighbor’s dog – whatever!) or finding the best alternative time when you have more energy. Find a balance, ask your spouse to work with you on creating that balance. Sex is not a dog bone to hold above your spouse’s head – don’t let it become that. Remember the reasons for why there is sex within your marriage/relationship in the first place: that sacred, deep, satisfying, and committed connection you have for one another.
“WHY ARE YOU BEING SUCH A GOOD-FOR-NOTHING ASSHOLE RIGHT NOW?”
Name calling – joking, or not – is never acceptable in any relationship. If you’ve ever been called something that jerks your chain in some fashion, you know that it makes you feel invaluable to that person. And the last person you want to feel invaluable to, or cause to feel invaluable, is your spouse. Plus, it’s just plain disrespectful all around, and caddy.
These are such names that can sting – known for their harsh definition – not pet names, like “Goober”. So if you’re already accustomed to doing abrasive name calling in your relationship, you’ve possibly already done subtle damage you may not be able to uncover right away. Find the underlying reason for the name calling – where does it stem from? When does it usually happen? And find a way to eliminate it from your relationship vocabulary.
“YOU’RE LUCKY I HAVEN’T CHEATED ON YOU…”, “IT’S NOT LIKE I LIED TO YOU…”, “YOU’RE REALLY GOING TO ACT THIS WAY OVER THIS ONE TIME? (CHEATING, LYING, SECRECY, ETC.)”
This, above all, is not only a threat but self-centered, untrustworthy manipulation in your relationship. If anything alike of those statements have been used in the relationship, the first thing to think about is what was done for the cause of that to be said. These sayings are also very good indicators, when said, of how loyal, honest and trustworthy that person is. And if I’m going to guess, I’d say not at all.
Other than merely trying to implicate guilt onto the other person by saying it, they could also be hiding the fact they have either been in the wrong or plan on it in the future. It could be their way of testing your patience and forgiveness in the relationship – how far you would be willing to accept and stick around on the severity of the situation.
“JUST FORGET ABOUT IT.”
This is said in many given situations – it’s so common it’s almost overrated. Maybe you did or said something that bothers your spouse, so you try to talk about it, and your spouse cuts the subject by simply saying, “just forget about it.” Or it could be the reverse – you try to talk to your spouse about something they did or said that bothered you, but they just keep telling you to “just forget about it.”
Again, it’s now become a created distance, and avoidance of communication. And when this type of situation is pressured by either parties – it can sometimes over boil over uncontrollably. I’m sure that has happened many times, and you may be thinking, “I can’t believe it blew up over this – if my spouse would just talk to me, none of it would’ve happened…” or “Why does my spouse insist on talking about ____, I told him to move on and just forget about it – I don’t know why he keeps bringing it up again and again.”
Believe me, one of my past relationships circulated around this issue. Certain situations were never resolved in my eyes, because I was always being told to ‘just forget about it‘, while also being told that ‘I keep bringing the situation up again, and again, and again.‘ There was an intense lack of communication on his part, and because of that he resorted to throwing up a defense mechanism to avoid discussion, period. Which over time created even more emotional distance as well as unhealthy communication (for the little that there was) – resulting in us parting ways.
It isn’t fair to leave one person in the dark while the other is quick and able to wipe the dirt off their hands and move on. This phrase is not the right way to try to ‘nip it in the bud’ – it will usually only leave your spouse more confused or certain that the situation is left unresolved.
“I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP…”, “I GOT IT…”, “I CAN DO THIS ON MY OWN…”
Okay, I know we’re all guilty of this. At some point, we all want to know we can handle doing things on our own – sure, I get it. But in certain avenues, these phrases can easily be taken out of context. More likely with how it is being said. Let’s say you’re frustrated in a task and your spouse asks to attempt to help. If you blatantly and angrily stir them away using those words, are they ever going to really want to help you in the future? Probably not.
If you consistently never allow them to assist you (because they want to, not because you asked), they’re going to assume you’re a one-man team and begin to feel very left out in the relationship. This isn’t a matter of whether it’s something your spouse can actually help with, it’s the act of using these phrases and how they are said. I know this sounds so petty, but try to think of it in terms of their way of trying to spend time with you – if you’re cooking, angrily trying to fix something or folding laundry, and you shoo your spouse away when they try to help – what does that say in their eyes?
“I DON’T CARE ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY.”
Another ‘below the belt’ phrase that can be misconstrued in the heat of argument or conflict. Many times, this is meant to say, “What you’re saying to me is very irrelevant in terms of the actual problem…” But, that’s never how it comes across. So instead, we provoke our spouses feelings in hopes to get them to listen and agree with you rather than speak. But in actuality, that never works.
Try having a conversation with your spouse about a specific topic you know you both differ on. If in the middle of that conversation your spouse interrupts with, “I don’t care about what you have to say.”, think about how that would make you feel. Sounds like they don’t value your opinion or values, and they definitely aren’t showing any respect for you.
“IF YOU’RE GOING TO DO THIS, THEN I’M GOING TO DO THAT…”
Tit for tat. If I could literally tag this behavior and phrase as one of the biggest killers of marriages/relationships – next to cheating/lying/abuse – I would. And the horrific part is most don’t even realize they’re doing it. And they do it almost constantly. I mean, even I’m guilty of it in my past. But what I eventually learned is by doing that, and lowering myself to doing that it caused me to want to act out against my relationships, to spite them, or so I thought it was to ‘teach him a lesson‘ or ‘show him how it feels‘.
Allow me to go into some examples:
… well he went out with his friends and blew $100 without consulting me first, so I’m going to go spend that money and get my hair done
… well he lied about texting that girl, so I’m going to go out and get guys to hit on me and ask for my number
… well he didn’t get up off the couch today, so I’m just going to leave the house a filthy mess
I could go on, and on. Some aren’t as serious, but many are. Because over 75% of the time, tit for tat is caused by frustration or irritation by something your spouse did, does, said or says in which you refuse to confront them about. Mostly tit for tat is simply an unspoken action, but it also can be spoken. And if you or your spouse can allow this to be said to one another, then the relationship is becoming based on reversed, hateful, immature and unhealthy qualities.
“I DON’T LOVE/LIKE YOU RIGHT NOW…”
I mean, really, why say that?
And I know it happens – you likely think it more often than you say it.
Do you purposely want your spouse to believe that to be true? Go ahead and think it all you want – he was an insensitive prick for not consoling you after getting fired from your job – because even though saying it isn’t actually true, it just confirms how you feel.
And that’s fine, you’re not going to ‘like’ your spouse all the time, but do they really need to hear it? And especially if you say you don’t ‘love’ them in a given moment – that’s cutting a short, short fuse. But to actually say that to your spouse, aloud, is like branding into their brain the capability of not being loved/liked by you.
“YOU CAN’T COOK, YOU’RE NOT HANDY – WHAT CAN YOU DO?”
In a marriage/relationship, a solid foundation is made by building one another up. There are going to be things one does better over the other, and things one is more advanced or knowledgeable in. And for one thing, it definitely isn’t the job of a spouse to market the other’s weaknesses or failures. Instead of pointing out weaknesses or failures, it could benefit the relationship by building up each other’s weaker skills together.
“WOULD YOU JUST SETTLE DOWN?”, “RELAX!”, “LET IT GO!”, “IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL…”
So I know a lot of men are guilty of this, mostly. But I’m sure women say it, too. And me being a woman, I’ll say it’s a trigger that gets my blood boiling. And when these things are being said, I would imagine the person hearing it has steam coming out their ears, too. But, to put it simply – men, hello out there, welcome – they just don’t know any better. I mean, truly, those words shouldn’t be as offensive as they come across. Some, women mostly, do have the tendency to make mountains out of molehills – am I right? It’s just in our nature as emotional, over analyzing thinkers. And we sometimes can’t help that – at all.
And the predicament here is: we, as women, do need to (at times) take one, large, hefty chill pill.
Our spouses just don’t know a way around saying that without making us sound crazy – because that’s what we think they’re saying when they use those phrases, right? Yes and no. Men are simple. Men tend to not dwell or blow up on situations that don’t concern them. Particularly, when they do, they’re more likely to hold it all inside. And there’s the difference.
But these phrases are said, and spoken quite often, it might be time for a reality check. For either spouse, there are going to be things that need ‘letting go‘, but there will also come times you need to swallow the truth and focus on empathy. There are ways around saying these phrases, such as directing the spouse’s attention to another topic or activity, or just simply listen without the intent to speak. Sometimes that’s all it takes – just grin and bear it, and listen.
The word ‘but‘. That silly, stupid, useless – to rise above what was last said, or saying something just to say it – word. But, why do we say it? Why is it used in many conversations that involve two sides or two opposing views. Do we use the word to rise above the other? Do we use it as a cover-up? Or do we use it just to have the last word? More importantly, we should strive to never use it because it actually hinders trust, credibility and intimacy in relationships.
Never thought of that, huh? Try it sometime. Make a point to notice when you or your spouse use the word in your daily conversations, and understand maybe why it is used. It could be that very tiny crack in your relationship that is waiting to break open.
Unfortunately, it’s quite easy to overlook the things we say that can damage a relationship. And not that I really want to bring back the phrase, ‘think before you speak’, but there really is no better solution. And as humans, it’s likely to say the wrong thing – more than once – but as long as we strive to not make it a habitual part of our lives, any relationship can go far and steady.