Words that can make (or break) your marriage
Don’t underestimate the power of words in your marriage! Keep reading to find out what you should be saying more often to your spouse, every day.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”.
We might have recited this rhyme to our children in a bid to encourage them to be calm, good-natured and not to retaliate in the face of taunts made by other children. But is it really true that words can never really hurt us?
On the contrary, married couples continue to inflict great emotional damage on each other either knowingly (or unknowingly) with the words they use. However, it is never too late to rethink how we can better relate and communicate with our spouse.
Check out these simple phrases that every couple should use regularly:
We often read or hear that "Love is… never having to say ‘I’m sorry’." This cannot be further from the truth. No matter how deeply you love someone, everyone makes mistakes.
You might be insensitive because you’re feeling tired or hungry at a certain point in time. You might hurt your spouse’s feelings occasionally because you can’t possibly read his or her mind all the time.
But it’s how we deal with our mistakes that matters. If you hate saying “I’m sorry” – try it now. It could make all the difference. Undeniably, it’s difficult to forgive someone who insists they’ve done nothing to warrant forgiveness. However, even if you’re convinced you’re in the right, sometimes it matters more to make amends than to prove your innocence or push your point of view.
“I love you”
People show love in different ways. You might have heard of the 5 love languages – time, gifts, acts of service, touch, and words. If you show love by spending time with your spouse, that could be your way of expressing love to him or her. However, your spouse might find it hard to recognise this, and is just waiting for you to say the all-important words.
Although we may know we are loved, most people still need to hear it. Never assume that your spouse knows that you love him or her. It’s entirely possible for some to have a ring on their finger and not feel loved.
So say those 3 little words, and say it often to your spouse.
“What’s on your mind?”
No matter how long you’ve been together or how well you know each other, it is impossible to read someone else’s mind. You might assume that if something was wrong, your spouse would tell you. But more often than not, it is highly unlikely that your spouse will initiate a conversation by saying "Here’s a problem I’m having with you at the moment".
As such, this question is crucial to getting the stuff that matters out into the open. A helpful piece of advice is to "keep short accounts", because relationships stay healthy when things are dealt with early on. Some things can be left unsaid, but others develop into bigger problems, scarier issues, or deeper hurts. And if you ask "What are you thinking about?" and the only answer you get is "I’m trying to remember what I had for lunch", you’ve lost nothing!
In a relationship, you don’t need to live in each other’s debt. Doing things for each other is one of the ways to show your love. But if you don’t feel that your efforts are appreciated, over time, you may begin to feel resentful.
Don’t take each other for granted. Say thank you, and mean it. Appreciating each other is a powerful way to keep your relationship strong. Remember why you got together in the first place, and say thank you not just for what they do, but for who they are.
What not to say
Just in case you weren’t aware, here are some phrases that are generally not appropriate when you are speaking to your spouse:
“Why do you always have to shoot your mouth off?”
"Calm down, will you? It must be that time of the month."
"Just forget about it, I don’t expect you to understand."
"Am really tired, just get off my back, ok?"
Always remember the same piece of advice we dish out to our children – Think before you speak!
Share with us any other powerful words that you and your spouse exchange with each other that really help strengthen your marriage. We’d love to hear from you!
Reprinted with permission from Focus on the Family Singapore, a local charity dedicated to helping families thrive by providing quality family life education and resources.