Words are powerful. They can cut you, heal you, inspire you, and stop you from certain actions. Learning the language of marriage takes time and diligence, but saying some words regularly may cause irreparable damage. Here are five words that are destined to cause damage to your marriage:
1. “Never.” “Never” implies a sense of hopelessness and finality. When you use “never,” you’re telling your spouse that they are no good, will never be any good and that 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.
2. “Always.” “Always” implies a sense of rigidity and righteousness. When you use “always,” you’re telling your spouse that they are wrong, you are right, and that 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.
3. “But.” “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.”
4. “*#%&.” Use your imagination and fill in the blank 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 marriage. Outright contempt has no place in a marriage.
5. “Divorce.” Threatening to divorce, suggesting divorce as an option, or accusing your spouse of destroying the marriage will lead to just that. A divorce is 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 one that is meant to hurt, control, scare or push away the person you love. Find words that are conducive to creating intimacy. These might include phrases like, “I notice that when I [blank], you react by [blank]. When you do [blank], I feel [blank]. It would mean a lot to me if you would [blank], because when you do, I feel [blank].” 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?”