The best marriages and relationships are going to have arguments and disagreements. Many times, the arguments take on a life of their own because we get frustrated to the point that we hit below the belt.
We have to remember that ultimately we are in each other’s corner and, although this is an argument, we don’t want to say things that are hurtful or scathing which affect how we feel about each other.
Arguing is acceptable, but we have to fight fair. We want to address issues with the purpose of resolving the issue, not making the other person feel inadequate or inferior.
There are certain phrases we can’t say or words we can’t use in an argument. Here are three things we can’t say when we are arguing with our spouse or significant other:
Don’t Say “You always” or “You never”
When we get upset, we tend to speak to our spouses as though the thing that has upset us is a constant irritation the person does incessantly. This simply isn’t true.
Saying “You never take out the trash,” or “You always take their side” is simply an inflammatory statement that adds more fuel to the argument instead of working toward a resolution. We often have much more time together where we enjoy each other’s company.
No one is always doing any one thing. Step back and say what is bothering you in the moment, specifically, to work through this particular situation. Emphasize your frustration by telling the person exactly what they have done and how it hurt you—rather than by exaggerating the action itself.
Don’t Call Anyone Out of Their Names
Calling someone anything other than their name in an argument is unacceptable. Frustration gets the best of all of us, but it is our job and responsibility to not call people we love a name unbecoming to them.
Obvious things like the b-word or something of that nature should never be uttered, but using words like slacker, loser, deadbeat or failure are just as hurtful. We have to remember at the end of the day, we want to work through our problems together and name-calling is counterproductive to conflict resolution.
You hurt your spouse, you tear down their self-esteem and you can make them feel worse than they deserve to feel from someone who says they love them and should be lifting them up. Name calling of any sort is not okay in an argument.
Don’t Patronize or Mock Your Mate
I’m sure you have heard someone say “don’t patronize me.” Move this up to the tenth power in an argument. The quickest way to get someone to tune you out is to patronize.
- “Let me explain this in a way you can understand,”
- “I used to think that way when I was young,”
- or “That’s what I would expect a woman to say.”
These ways of categorizing what you think of what someone is trying to share with you instead of valuing the opinion of the person who is talking to you is an example of someone who doesn’t want to work together to resolve a situation.
When we patronize during an argument, we’re effectively communicating we don’t value what the other person is saying. Instead of patronizing, listen, internalize and effectively respond to what the other person says.
Patronizing your spouse or significant other speaks to both the lack of interest in the argument and how little you care about their opinion. There’s no place for patronizing in disagreements with people we love and respect.
Arguments can be healthy opportunities to grow. Take the time to respect the other person, even when you are frustrated, but still accept the responsibility to fight fair and respect each other during and after the argument is over. The mutual respect makes it easier to make up with your spouse—which is the best part!
BMWK, what are some other things that you should never, ever say during an argument?