Life coach Jean Grossman recalls a conversation with her husband during which he said she wasn't "there for him." She says that, at one time, those would have been "fightin'" words. However, an older and wiser Grossman calmed herself down and asked a simple question: "What do you mean by 'not there'?"
"That question allowed us to embark on a long discussion about what he meant with his words and how I saw things in a different way," she said. "It really provided us a chance for an intimacy we'd not had before at that level or on that topic. I will never forget that moment!"
The exchange is a reminder that even long-time, happily married couples sometimes need to watch what they say -- and how they say it. At the same time they also need to watch how they respond to what their significant other has to say. Just because you're extremely comfortable with someone doesn't mean you never have to watch your mouth.
"Communication is tricky. We all hear words differently (and filtered through our experiences, which are certainly different from our partner's) and we all want to be communicated with in a style we understand," Grossman said. "I also believe that 'the tune makes the music.' If what we are saying is said in a kind or loving way it feels differently than when spoken in anger or retribution."
So what are some things you should never say to your dearly beloved? After speaking with Grossman, as well as with some other relationship experts, Huff/Post50 came up with the following list of nine things to never say to your spouse. Have anything to add? Tell us in comments.
1. "You always..." or "You never..."
Think about it. Neither of these is true. If you start a sentence with these words your mate is certain to shut down or start a fight. Stop for a minute and think about what you really mean to say -- and then say that instead.
2. "Don't you think so-and-so is attractive?"
Believe me, nothing good can ever come from a spouse giving you his or her opinion on this one. This will only fuel the flames of any argument that may be brewing.
3. "My ex-boyfriend/ex-husband/ex-girlfriend/ex-wife would never have done what you just did..." or "...would have done a better job than you..."
Ouch! Talk about making a partner feel terrible! in general, one should always shy away from comparisons.
4. "I'm just trying to hang in there until our last leaves for college..."
If I had to single out one phrase that leaves little room for reconciliation it would be this one. This statement is incredibly hurtful even if you recant what you said a few minutes later.
5. "I was on the fence about marrying you in the first place, and my worst fears were realized..."
If you're about to spit out a blanket statement like this, stop for a minute and think about what's behind your feelings. Talk openly about what's concerning you instead of lashing out.
6. "I guess our (academically or behaviorally challenged/drug- or alcohol-ensnared) kid got YOUR genes..."
You might as well say "I have no idea why I ever married you in the first place." Certainly playing the blame game will do nothing to help you realize and address what's legitimately behind your child's problems.
7. "You're just like your father or mother..."
Again, jump to what's really troubling you about your partner without belittling your partner's family in the process.
8. "You know it's always been your problem that..."
Who exactly wants to hear that from their partner? We all have a pretty good sense of ourselves at this point and having someone else point out a failing does nothing to engender a loving relationship.
9. "Surely you could tell I've been faking it all along..."
Just don't say this. Not ever. Even if it's true.