With due respect to the old adage, words are often much more harmful than sticks or stones. That’s particularly true when it comes to marriage. Hurtful words can undermine the trust and intimacy necessary for marital harmony. With that in mind, here are five things you should never say to your spouse.
1. Anything That Suggests Divorce
It’s the dreaded “D” word—and dreaded for good reason. Successful marriage requires deep intimacy, but that intimacy is only possible in an environment of complete trust and security. Once you introduce the threat of divorce, you undercut that sense of safety and threaten the sacred vows on which your marriage is based. Your spouse will no longer feel like your partner, but will see him or herself as an individual unit, bound to you by a commitment that can be broken. Once that sense of security is gone in a marriage, it’s difficult to bring it back. Better to avoid losing it in the first place.
2. "You always/never . . ."
Sweeping generalizations will do nothing but make your spouse feel criticized.
When you’re having a discussion or disagreement, stick to the topic at hand and skip the personal broadsides. So instead of saying, “You never want to watch the movies I enjoy,” you might try, “What is it about this movie that you don’t like?” This moves the focus off the perceived failings of your spouse and places it on the real matter at hand.
3. “Because of you . . .”
It can be tempting to blame your spouse when things don’t go your way, but it’s important to resist. Blaming another person—even if warranted—does nothing to solve the problem or address the situation. The only thing it really does is put your spouse on the defensive and create an adversarial relationship between the two of you.
4. "I don’t care."
A successful marriage requires honest and forthright communication.
When we’re angry and irritated it’s easy to dismiss the views and needs of our spouse. One thing that undercuts the marriage bond is when a spouse feels unheard and unimportant -- and that’s what saying "I don’t care" communicates. Maybe you don’t think your spouse is correct about something or you’re tired of hearing about a concern, but what’s important to them should be important to you, too, simply because they care about it.
5. The Silent Treatment
While silence doesn’t actually involve saying anything hurtful, the message it communicates is often just as destructive. A successful marriage requires honest and forthright communication. The silent treatment does nothing but shut off the main connection between you and your spouse and nothing between you will improve until it’s restored.
“When two people marry, if they embrace the expectation of making their partner better and helping him or her get to heaven, the marriage will thrive.”
The 21 Undeniable Secrets of Marriage by Allen Hunt
If you’ve said hurtful words to your spouse, apologize and recommit to never saying them again. What we say matters. Strengthen your marriage with words that build up instead of tear down.