Whatever you do, avoid saying any of the following to your other half…
Dr. Gabrielle Morrissey
1. Over generalisations ie “you always [insert action]”
It immediately puts your partner on the defensive. You want to have them to understand how the pattern of what they do or say impacts you and the relationship so that together you can change it.
2. Comparing this relationship to a previous one
This is a no-go area. Don’t even do it in a positive way because once you open up that area without boundaries, a negative comment can creep in. Keep the relationship you’re in now sacred and unique. Your exes are not in it.
3. Comparing your partner to their mother or father or to your (faultless) parents
Not only are your, or their parents not you or your partner, comparing to them is just a hot button. So is criticising your partner’s parents. No matter how difficult they are, your partner loves them. Nothing good comes from putting them down and making your partner feel sad or bad – or defensive – about their loved ones.
4. Complaints about how he/she used to BE – as if their character has changed
This involves saying “You used to be so thoughtful” instead of “I loved all the thoughtful things you used to do and now it seems you’re too busy for me”. Attacks on character as opposed to deed are taken very personally and hurts are remembered for a long time. Say what you mean and keep it specific and accurate. Those general character assassinations will fester in a relationship.
5. Correcting a partner’s grammar during an argument
This speaks to being patronising to a partner. If you don’t treat them as an equal, they will puff up to prove themselves to be. Voila, escalated fight, instead of a path to conflict resolution.
6. Name calling
Sweetheart: yes. Any name that is vicious or hurtful, no matter how creative or funny you think it may be: no, no, and again, NO. Your partner will never, ever forget it. A hurtful label cannot be undone.
7. “Is that all you’ve got?”
Challenging them to hurt you, and verbally poking at them to fight longer and more will almost always work. Just don’t don’t do it. When you’re that angry and hurt, take a deep breath, agree to leave the room and resume when you’re calmer. There is no rule that all fights need to be resolved with a winner or loser right then and there. In an escalating argument you will both lose.
8. “You’re so [fill in the blank]”
Statements of what a person is not, or not good at, will not entice anyone to change. And a relationship, like friendship, is based on acceptance of who a person is, not how you’d like them to be. If change is what you want, change is what you discuss.
9. “We need to talk”
If you do need to talk, it should be, “Can we talk?”. It’s an invitation to discuss, not a declaration of war.
10. Any threat to end the relationship (unless you absolutely, truly mean it)
If two people can’t have an argument and still feel secure that the relationship is solid and they are safe and still committed, then the relationship is not solid and neither of you are in fact safe in it.