Communication is the key to a successful marriage. It’s not only what you say that’s important; how you say it makes a huge difference as well. Here are some phrases to that can potentially wreak havoc in your marriage.
1. “You always / you never”
Generalizing someone else’s behavior as completely wrong is hurtful. Such comments engender a defensive stance and cause backlash from your partner's end. Instead of generalizing, avoid exaggeration and be specific about particulars.
2. “You shouldn't feel that way” “What are you making a big fuss about”
We all have the right to feel the way we do. No one wants his or her feelings dismissed or invalidated. When we tell our partners that one’s feelings are wrong or invalid, we are giving them the message that we don’t really care about how they feel.
3. “You're a... (negative term).”
Labeling someone as inherently wrong or bad is devastating to one's self-image and never accomplishes anything positive.
4. “Why can’t you be more like so-and-so”
If you’re measuring your spouse against the standard of another couples’ relationship, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Allow your partnership to thrive under the influence of an internally-focused barometer. Your marriage is as unique as you and your spouse.
5. “You need to…”
No one likes being bossed around, even in marriage. Instead of giving a general order, try focusing on your own experience of the situation. For example, instead of saying, “you need to clean your mess,” opt for the phrase, “I would appreciate if you could put away your dirty clothes at night.”
6. “You're acting like your mother!”
Ouch. Your partner has the right to be him or herself without a put-down by comparing him/her to anyone else. Bringing parents, in-laws, or family members into a conversation or argument steers it away from a solution and can turn even a calm disagreement into a full-blown feud.
7. “Just forget about it” “Never mind”
These phrases become all-too-common mediums for averting constructive discussion. Avoiding a confrontation because it’s difficult doesn’t solve the problem at hand. Important issues can snowball when they’re conveniently swept under the rug.
8. The “d” word
Never mention divorce unless you're dead serious about it. Using divorce as a threat to motivate change only questions your willingness to work through rough spots and your commitment to the marriage.
9. “It’s all your fault”
It usually isn't. It takes two to fight and two to resolve differences. Blaming a spouse for a problem or your own unhappiness only shifts the focus away from a solution and instead focuses on the problem.
10. “I (earn, work, help out) more than you”
The focus of an argument should be on finding a solution or understanding to that specific issue – and that’s it. Once a disagreement takes the nasty road of comparisons, it turns into a power-struggle that no healthy marriage should experience.