“Death and Life are in the Power of the Tongue” (Proverbs 18:21)
The old proverb is referring to the power of the words that we speak to each other. Okay, maybe it isn’t life or death we are talking about here, but words can definitely ruin your relationship, and make the difference between being called “husband” or being known as the “ex-husband.”
There are four words in particular that can wreck your marriage and get you kicked to the curb.
Words that Will Ruin Your Relationship
Words are incredibly powerful. They have the ability to inspire people to do amazing things. They have the ability to tear people down. Words have the ability to save a marriage, and words have the ability to ruin your relationship. Here are four words that will undoubtedly cause damage to your marriage if you use them too often.
When my husband and I used to get into one of our big fights, I would frequently tell him where the door was. I acted as though it was no big deal if he walked through it. I sometimes even started talking through the logistics of a divorce. Why was I doing that? I never wanted a divorce, even when things got really bad. I knew I was hurting him when I said it, and that is probably what motivated me to say the word. I no longer do that. I made a pact with myself to never talk about divorce again unless that was really what I wanted. I lucked out, and my careless use of that word didn’t come back to bite me.
If you threaten your wife with the “D-word,” it could ultimately lead to…well, divorce. Either you are committed to the marriage, or you want out. You cannot be fully committed if you are threatening to leave your wife every time things get tough. Before you mutter that word, make sure it is what you really want. Otherwise, she may just take you seriously.
2. Never or Always
When we are angry or irritated, we sometimes feel like we really have to drive the nail in the coffin to make our point. So we exaggerate. Words like “always” and “never” can be dangerous. They leave no room for dialogue or open communication. They are final and imply that our minds are made up.
“Never” implies that things will never be good between you and your wife again. “Always” implies that your wife is wrong and there is nothing that can be done. There is no hope for change. These words are “all or nothing” words that simply are not true.
For example, is it really true that your wife “never understands you” or “always pushes your buttons?” Is it true if she says the same thing to you? Probably not. By using these two words, you don’t give each other the chance to fix the problem. Instead, focus on the current issue only and avoid blanket statements. Let her know how you feel in this one situation.
Finger pointing can be tempting, but the moment communication starts with “you,” it’s probably not helping the situation. The word is accusatory and does nothing but shut the other person down. Blaming just gets you both angry and defensive.
Instead of saying something like “You’re not listening to me,” try to rephrase it to encourage dialogue. You could say something like “When you look away during a conversation, it’s like ignoring me. ” By changing the focus and letting her know how you feel, she won’t perceive it as if she’s being attacked.
We all fall into using this word, even though it tends to escalate arguments. We may be bickering or lighting arguing about a subject, but the second someone uses that word, things begin to intensify. The problem with the word “but” is that it negates whatever you just said. It turns a potentially positive statement into something negative.
For example, have you ever said something along the lines of “I apologize for what I said, but don’t you think you overreacted a bit?” Why even start the sentence if you are going to immediately negate it? If you don’t believe the words you are saying or don’t mean them, don’t say them at all.
Argue So She Listens to You
Arguing is inevitable in a marriage. In fact, it is an essential part of a healthy relationship. It is to be expected that you are going to have different opinions, and that is perfectly normal. However, the words that you choose to speak make a big difference in the outcome of the argument and the ultimate health of your marriage. There is a way to argue that will ruin your relationship, and there is a way to argue that will actually strengthen your marriage. Here are a few tips on how to argue so your wife will listen to what you’re saying.
- Let her get it off her chest. Listen with all of your energy and focus. Don’t interrupt or immediately start planning your rebuttal. Even if you don’t agree with what she is saying, let her say it.
- Remember that you are on the same team. You are married, and you love each other. Even in the heat of an argument, she isn’t out to get you. She probably doesn’t want to irritate you or make you upset. Remind yourself of this when you are getting ready to blow your stack. It isn’t worth it.
- Repeat back for understanding. It can go a long way in an argument if you show your wife (or anyone for that matter) that you understand what she said. Before saying your opinion on the issue, repeat back her frustration or concern to show that you understand what she has said and where she is coming from. For example, “Let me make sure I understand. When I watch television after work, you feel neglected because I am not talking to you. Is that correct?”
- Don’t come out swinging. By the time it’s your turn to talk, you may be chomping at the bit. You’re probably ready to prove her wrong and win the argument. Instead of going for blood, try to remember what you really want out of the argument when it is all said and done. Resolution? Peace? If your only goal is to win the battle, you will ultimately lose. Don’t feel as though you shouldn’t say your opinion. You definitely should. But don’t say anything with intent to hurt your wife. You’ll regret it later.
We’ve all been guilty of saying things out of frustration or anger. Sooner or later we figure out that nothing good comes from using our words as weapons. You may think your bark may is worse than your bite, but the bite of our words and the relationship damage lasts long past the argument. Words can ruin your relationship so choose them wisely.
Do you know anyone who fights with their spouse?
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