Communicating well in a relationship can be hard work! And there are certainly some words and phrases we'd be better off without. In this post, I pick out three phrases we can benefit from ditching in our relationships.
How many arguments between you and your partner stem from things that were said?
I’d venture to say a lot.
In some cases, it’s understandable. Language is tough. Communicating what you’re feeling and thinking can be a genuine challenge. Sometimes we say things by accident that we wish we could take back.
The range of misused or poorly chosen words in our relationships is quite wide.
Below are some of those words/common phrases that I think we can do without. And by doing without them, I think we can enhance the quality of our relationships. Who doesn’t want that?!
Rather than simply stating the phrases and saying, “stop using this!”, I’ll try to show you why it’s worth ditching from your communicative toolbox.
But beware: it may take some training depending on how often you use the phrases. I’ve got three specific phrases in mind.
This is difficult one to break, especially if you’ve been with your person a long while.
Some of you might be thinking, “but my person literally does ALWAYS do ________!”
To be honest, that might be right. I will never know. I want to say that even if your partner or spouse always does [fill in the blank], you should still ditch this phrase from your relational vocabulary.
There’s a couple reasons.
Number one, there’s actually a good chance that your significant other doesn’t actually always do whatever it is. It may sure feel that way.
But we know that what we feel and what’s actually the case often come apart.
Second, when someone tells you that you always do blank, does that make you feel motivated to change? Probably not.
Change and progress are some of the things we’re after in relationships, so we should go with language that helps toward that end.
An alternative phrase you might use is, “It feels like this happens often. Do you agree?”
This approach communicates your experience AND invites dialogue at the same time. Win win.
Here’s a similar, but slightly different phrase that I think you’ll do better without.
Like the “you always ______!” phrase, this one is also probably not true. It might be, but probably isn’t.
The blank for this one might be filled in by things like:
“You never listen to me!”
“You never walk the dog!”
“You never ask how I’m doing!”
Unfortunately, the list may go on. Here’s the problem with this phrase.
And what might this be?
What you actually desire.
Underneath the “You never ______!” phrase is a desire for your partner or spouse to do something.
For example, if you’re saying “You never listen to me!”, I bet you really desire for your significant other to listen to you. You might even feel deprived of that.
If you want your partner to listen to you, lead with that. It doesn’t mean you’ll always get it, but it offers your relationship much more clarity by being direct in your communication.
Remember your end goal: connection, clear communication, and honesty. “You never ______!”, while it might feel good, doesn’t help you towards these other goals very well.
This one often just slips out of the mouth. And I often wish that we could retract it right when it does.
Have you wondered why this is? Why is this phrase worth ditching?
Nothing is worse than having your experienced minimized by another person. Obviously we overreact sometimes. That’s a universal experience.
But we overreact for a reason, and our brains sometimes just aren’t fast enough to process that.
What we really need, at times, is a little space to overreact just so we can process what’s going on.
Telling someone, or being told by someone, that we’re overreacting is like fanning the flames.
Not super helpful. Speaking from experience.
As I just mentioned, no one overreacts for no reason at all. It may seem like it from time to time, but there’s always a reason for overreacting.
Just because there’s a reason for it, however, doesn’t mean it’s always justified. This I know.
Still, the move to make in these situations is to seek to understand that reason underneath the reaction.
You’ll be surprised by how often it’s connected to a past negative experience and this is important information to know.
By insisting on the phrase, “You’re overreacting!”, you risk missing the person and what’s going on for them.
That can be easily avoided by ditching this phrase.
There are definitely more phrases we’d be better off without, but changing our communication patterns can takes a lot of time and effort, so I thought it’d be best to start with these three.
Hope this helps!
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