Words can cut you, heal you and even inspire you.
Learning the language of relationships and marriage takes time and diligence, but saying some words regularly may cause irreparable damage. Here are five words that are destined to damage your relationship:
Never implies a sense of hopelessness and finality. When you use never, you're telling your spouse that they're no good. They'll never be any good, and there's no hope for change. It's an all-or-nothing phrase that does not lend itself to listening, compromising and creating good will.
Always implies a sense of rigidity and righteousness. When you use always, you're telling your spouse that they're wrong, you are right and there's nothing that can be done about it. It's also an all-or-nothing phrase, and it does not lend itself to understanding, learning, or healing.
But implies a sense of manipulation and a lack of integrity. When you use but, you negate whatever was said before. It invalidates your message and turns a positive statement into a negative one. It's a conjunction that does not lend itself to building trust, credibility and intimacy. (Similar words to avoid include however and although.)
Use your imagination and fill in the blanks, and what you're left with is a vulgar, obscenity-laced attack. Any way you look at it, attacking your spouse by name-calling will cause irreparable damage. Doing this regularly will surely destroy your spouse's soul and kill the relationship. Outright contempt has no place in a long-term relationship.
Threatening to divorce, suggesting divorce as an option or accusing your spouse of destroying your relationship will lead to ... divorce. It's a very serious decision, and using it as a weapon or method of control creates anxiety and despair. It's not conducive for effective communication, conflict resolution, problem solving, or intimacy.
Take the time to think about the impact of your words before you speak to your spouse. Consider what you want to create with the communication. Create a powerful and loving intention, rather than intention that is meant to hurt, control, scare or push away the person you love. Find words that are conducive to creating intimacy.
This might include phrases like, "I notice that when I _____, you react by _____. When you do _____, I feel _____. It would mean a lot to me if you would _____ because when you do, I feel _____." And, "I want our marriage to feel good to both of us. How can we approach things in a way that makes us both feel heard, appreciated, accepted, and loved?"
Learning new ways of communicating and relating to each other is not easy. Couples get trapped into certain ways of relating that have been established early on in the relationship.
If you or someone you know needs help in learning how to communicate effectively and lovingly, please contact me. I'm a psychotherapist, speaker, and author of 'The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships Through Self-Discovery'. Take your FREE Relationship Assessment Quiz to see if your relationship is on track.