Of course every marriage is different, but there are a few phrases that you are probably using on a regular basis that are doing nothing positive for your marriage and can often be surefire ways to start a fight.
You never/You always The problem with using absolutes is that they are almost never true. (See how I tried to be clever and use an absolute to make my point? My #nerdstatus requires that I both try to be clever and point it out to you just in case you missed it.) But I digress…chances are saying “We never go out” or “You always put work before me” is only going to lead your spouse to start pointing out those one, three or 10 times that she actually did what you’re accusing her of never doing.
Instead: Know what you want, be specific about it and say, “I would love if we could ___ more often.” If you can replace more often with an actual time interval, even better.
Men are …/Women are… In my humble opinion, we as a culture spend too much time reading about, talking about and trying to understand “men” and “women” instead of trying to understand our own spouses as individuals. Sure there are some things that seem to be broadly true for both sexes, but you didn’t marry every man or woman, you married one, so throwing “men always” or “women do…” into your conversations with your spouse can make him feel like you don’t respect him as the ONE you married.
Instead: Rather than trying to “figure out” your spouse by applying what all men or women do to your marriage, pay attention and find out what makes your own spouse tick as an individual.
Must be nice Ooooh I catch myself doing this all the time. You hear about someone else’s spouse who sends flowers every day or cooks elaborate dinners every night and you say to your own spouse.. “must be nice”—in effect saying “Wow its really great that someone else’s spouse does this for them. You should be doing the same for me, but you suck so you don’t.” Yep, you might have only said three little words, but your spouse’s ears hear the latter.
Instead: Bite down hard on your tongue whenever you feel those words getting ready to come out of your mouth and instead compliment something that your spouse does instead.
And to piggy back on that…
(Insert couple that isn’t you) does (fill in activity that you don’t do) You may see that another couple has a date night once a week, or doesn’t argue as much as you do, or has worked well together to save money, get inspired and want to do the same. There’s nothing wrong with learning a successful habit from someone else, couples included, but if you start off the conversation by using another couple as a comparison, you’ve already started down the wrong road.
Instead: Realize that what works divinely in one couple’s marriage may be a disaster in your own and vice versa. If you still feel like you want to incorporate a similar goal in your own, talk about it as it would fit into your own marriage without bringing up “The Joneses.”
We don’t have enough time/money/___ to spend time together If you know me, you know this is the absolute worst. Saying that you don’t have the time, the money or the energy to vote any time to your marriage is the same as saying that everything else that you can possibly think of in the whole wide world is worth more time, effort and money than your relationship with your spouse.
Instead: Instead of saying “we can’t” say “how can we..” Don’t spend any more time thinking about what you don’t have the time or money to do. Instead start thinking about doing what you can do with the time and money you have. If you need a little inspiration, take our free 15-Day marriage challenge to get started.
Are these problem-starters in your marriage? What would you add to the list?
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