by Meygan Caston, Marriage 365
Our words are powerful, aren’t they?
The words we speak can either bring life and connection to the relationship or they can destroy trust and cause hurt feelings. Words have real consequences. They affect how people perceive us, they affect how people respond to us, and they ultimately affect the quality of our marriage.
While working with couples, I’ve learned that many people don’t fully understand which phrases are hurtful and why. It may seem obvious to some, but I wanted to clearly list the phrases you have to stay away from and explain why they cause so much hurt in a marriage.
“I don’t think I love you anymore.”
Love is a choice, not a feeling, and throwing out this statement can cause years of hurt feelings. You may not be feeling the love at the moment, but saying this phrase out loud is just mean and selfish. How is your spouse supposed to respond to you? How would you react to your spouse telling you that they may not love you anymore?
Probably the most hurtful thing a spouse can say, and you know why? Being critical of your spouse’s weight goes much deeper than what the scale says. It communicates that you don’t find your spouse attractive, even if that’s not the case. This phrase is damaging because it impacts your spouse’s self-esteem and will forever make them feel self-conscious in and out of the bedroom.
Your spouse may be acting crazy, but this is a trigger phrase for most people. The word crazy typically refers to someone’s mental state, and if you are saying that your spouse is acting/sounding crazy, that’s implying that they have mental issues and you’re putting a label on them. It also makes them incredibly defensive, which isn’t helpful to either of you.
“I wish I never married you.”
Talk about a phrase that communicates – I have made the worst mistake of my life! You are responsible for your choices, and no one forced you to marry your spouse. Saying this phrase breaks all intimacy and trust for a long period of time.
“You’re so stupid!”
This is called character shaming which basically means that you’re making your spouse feel like something is wrong with them. Shame makes us feel terrible – like we’re horrible people, broken, worthless, and disgusting. And when someone shames us, we lose respect for that person.
“It’s all your fault.”
Well, 97% of the time, it’s impossible for your marriage problems to be all on one spouse. It takes two to be married, and typically spouses who are insecure or prideful cannot see their part in the marriage. Healthy spouses can take ownership of their words, actions, attitude, and behavior.
“You’re just like your mom.”
Probably a trigger for most people who came from unhealthy and dysfunctional families. You’re basically saying that your spouse has turned out to be an exact replica of their parent (mom or dad), implying that you don’t like their mom or dad and so, therefore, you don’t like the way your spouse is behaving. Now, they may be acting just like their mom and dad but don’t say it! Instead, be aware that they learned these behaviors from their parents and are probably unaware of how unhealthy it is, and take the time to deal with the behavior in front of you and how it’s impacting your marriage.
“I hate you!”
Hate is an angry word that is highly aggressive and can cause fear and doubt in your relationship. Cynical people use the word “hate” often and are typically more negative in their thoughts and feelings. When we use the word hate, we often mean that there isn’t one positive thing you like about it. Better to say, “I am really upset with you right now.”
“I never loved you.”
This phrase has the power to taint past acts of love and ruin future acts of love, and once you say this phrase, you can’t take it back. Ever. You can apologize all you want, but this phrase will leave a deep scar on your spouse and will create doubt that will linger in their mind. Love is a choice, so when you use this phrase, what you’re saying is “I refuse to choose to love you, and everything I’ve done that looked like love before was so that I could get “XYZ out of you”. Ouch.
Oftentimes, we say things out of anger which doesn’t excuse the behavior but is the explanation.
Casey and Meygan Caston are the founders of Marriage365, and the authors of Naked Dinners and Communication That Connects.
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