The One Fighting Word That Will Damage Any Good Marriage

The most manipulative thing you can say to your spouse.

Angry wife, arguing with spouse Dean Drobot | Canva

Arguments or disagreements are a natural part of marriage. As much as we love our partner, we become annoyed or upset with one another probably more often than we would like to admit. We may choose to 'blow off steam' toward our spouse exactly because our spouse is the one person who will love us 'no matter what.' However, it is never, ever appropriate to use the D-word when arguing with your spouse. And by D-word, I mean the word 'divorce.' Once a certain word is out of our mouths, we cannot take it back. And, using the highly-charged word 'divorce' can have a detrimental effect on your marriage, possibly causing irreparable harm. Let’s look at why that one word is so damaging to use during a heated argument.


Here are 4 reasons why using the word 'divorce' will damage your relationship:

1. It's manipulative

Possibly you throw the word 'divorce' around in your arguments to get your spouse to just "shut up!" You toss that word out, hoping the argument will come to an end and you will get your way (and avoid further argument). This is pure manipulation on your part and may get you what you want at the moment, but the issue still exists and will come up again.  

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2. It causes stress and anxiety

The D-word feels like an ultimatum to your spouse. Let’s face it, no one likes ultimatums. They make you feel backed into a corner by the person who is supposed to love you more than anyone else in the world. When you throw out the D-word, your spouse may figure he better give in or risk losing your love, and possibly the relationship itself. This causes your spouse stress and anxiety when it comes to the security and permanence of your marriage relationship.


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3. It makes your partner consider divorce

When your spouse hears the word 'divorce' used in your arguments, she may hear it as a threat. No matter how long you've been married, you should not speak about divorce unless that is exactly what you intend to do. Don’t use the word in the heat of an argument as a threat to secure a 'win' for yourself by getting your spouse to back down! Threatening divorce is never the way to resolve issues in your relationship. If you use the word every time you argue with your spouse, your spouse may get to the point where she figures out why not just "do it." "Let’s just end the agony and get divorced." That may not have been your intent, but now it has become a reality that you didn't think would actually happen.

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4. It's just a total jerk move

Threatening divorce every time you fight is just mean and a textbook 'jerk' move. Maybe you use the word because you want to plant the seeds of doubt and despair in your spouse’s head. Possibly you do want a divorce, but want him to decide. So, you go about trying to create a situation where he is so unhappy that he'll cave and make it happen. Then he looks like the 'bad guy' by everyone and you're the poor victim. It is so important to understand that a marriage based on idle threats, manipulation, and intimidation can never be healthy and happy. As a couple, you must work together and learn how to deal with difficult issues in your relationship, even when doing so feels uncomfortable in the moment.

Stop using the D-word in your arguments and start working on your issues. Sometimes even simple things can become huge issues when you avoid discussing them when conversations become heated, or if you threaten to end the relationship if you don’t get your way. As long as the two of you are together in a relationship, there will be times when you don’t see eye to eye. Arguments will happen, but that does not mean you'll get divorced. Learn how to fight fairly and resolve conflict. If you need help, seek out a good counselor who can offer guidance and direction for a better and happier marriage. 

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Drs. Debbie and David McFadden are relationship and life coaches with master's degrees in education and social work. They specialize in helping struggling and distressed couples improve their relationships.