Without a doubt, relationships are work. However, it is a voluntary investment. Just like other investments, you not only want to see it succeed, but you want it to thrive and produce an even better return than what you initially put in it. One thing to understand, though, is that it does not come overnight. Two personalities – oftentimes distinctly different – are now fusing together to present a smooth foundation. Personality conflict, differences in how things are handled, and maturity levels are just three things that come in play, and can certainly cause this smooth foundation to remain bumpy.
So, to improve that path and smooth out the bumpy communication, here are five phrases that you should refrain from saying to your mate.
- Always/Never: “You always do this,” or “You never do that” in any kind of negative form is what Richard and Kris Carlson (Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff) call “absolutes.” These should be avoided, because more than likely, they are false. Saying someone “always” or “never” does something not only reeks of over-exaggeration, but it is also a lousy job promoting change. By saying that, essentially you are expecting the other person to say, “Wow! You’re right! I always/never do it! I am going to change that right now.” Very rarely to “never” would that actually happen.
- Like them: Don’t ever compare your relationship to someone else’s or hold your mate’s standards to someone else. I.e. “You should learn how to talk to me like he talks to her.” Not only are you fully unaware of the other relationship, but you are unfairly holding your mate to a standard that they may have to grow to. Moreover, why are you even talking about the achievements of someone else to degrade your mate anyway? Definitely a communication flag.
- If/Then: Appreciate your mate right now were they are. There was a reason why they became your mate in the first place, so hold on to that. One of the biggest problems with relationships is we find someone who is physically attractive, then we try to mold them into who we want them to be. When, in fact, God made them totally different. I’m not talking about coaching each other and respectfully calling out areas of improvement. This specifically has to do with personality types and current socio-economic statuses. By focusing so much on molding, eventually an “if/then” mentally comes along. “If she wasn’t so boisterous, then we would get along better.” “If he made more money, then we wouldn’t be in this position right now.” Have you ever considered that you may be making the situation worse?
- “Why don’t you…”: “Why don’t you call me anymore,” “Why don’t you ever tell me you love me,” “Why don’t you compliment me like you used to?” While these are important factors to address, this approach is severely flawed. Try asking curious questions to see what the root of their lack of expression is, rather than selfishly demanding an answer without making an investment for the communication to get better.
- “I’m sick and tired”: Not only does this phrase usually signify emotional defeat, but it does absolutely nothing to improve a relationship, nor its communication factor. If one spent more time patiently understanding elements that led up to the mate feeling a certain way, most likely it wouldn’t have even got to the point of being “sick and tired.” Granted, there are people within relationships that you do find out are just plain rude, calloused, and insensitive. Hopefully you don’t find that out by the time you are married. If you do, you just have to dig deeper and open up a line of communication to learn to trust more, and judge less. As best as possible, don’t allow yourself to get “sick and tired.” If it is a relationship that is causing more pain than happiness and you both aren’t even married yet, amicably walk away from it. If you are married, there is always hope.
Some personalities just do not mesh well as far as relationships. Sometimes, you both are better off as friends. If you are married, get good counseling, read books/articles together, and do different practices in order to improve your communication. However, refrain from those aforementioned phrases AT ALL COSTS. None of them do anything to improve a relationship. In fact, it makes the relationship worse. Learn to affirm each other, even if you don’t feel like it. What you will quickly find out is that if you truly love someone, making them happy makes you happy.
Building a better tomorrow starts today.