Your relationship has a magic formula for success. Renowned relationship expert, Dr. John Gottman of The Gottman Institute found that for every negative interaction during a conflict, a stable relationship needs at least 5 positive interactions. You need to be mindful of what you say and do if you want to create the conditions needed for love to flourish. Here are 6 examples of phrases you should never use.
Don’t make your partner feel like their emotions aren’t justified, valid or being heard. These phrases are demeaning. The way someone feels can never be wrong. Instead, try, “I understand you feel that way. Can you help me understand your feelings better?”
This is what is known as “stonewalling” in couples therapy. It is a very dangerous game that creates frustration and disconnection. Instead of giving your partner the “silent-treatment”, ask for time to “cool off” and come back to the conversation with a clear mind.
Absolute statements are rarely factually correct. It’s not fair or rational and will discourage your partner from making an effort in future. You will only make them defensive, because there’s really no arguing with “always” or “never”.
It can be very destructive when you give your partner the apology they deserve, but you take away from it by trying to make excuses. Ask yourself whether you want to be right or happy. If you choose happiness, it’s time to learn how to apologize graciously.
Calling your partner’s feelings for you into question, just to get your way, is cruel. Trying to send them on a “guilt-trip” is not constructive and will not foster intimacy or cooperation. Instead, try, “I always appreciate it when you…”
Don’t poison your partner’s relationships with other people, just to make a point. Instead show solidarity to your partner against the criticisms of others. Own the issue you have and make direct requests.
Navigating communication in your relationship can be difficult. It will get easier with time and continued effort. Remember to treat your partner the way you would like to be treated. Lasting relationships are positive, respectful and mutually supportive.