Words Can Be Your Relationship Deal-breaker


Watching your words can save a relationship.

The reasons that relationships untangle and relationships end in infidelity or break-up might well be tracked to three key deal-breakers: money arguments, disagreements about children, and unkind words. Lack of respect for one’s spouse can lay the foundation for irreconcilable conflicts. A startling article in the Wall Street Journal pointed out this week in “Meet the Marriage Killer” that nagging is often the deal-breaker.

And often times nagging and unkind words come about either because of thoughtlessness or frustration.

Can falling out of love happen because of your words? Unkind words, that indicate a lack of respect for one’s spouse, lead to the disintegration of relationships.

The deal-breaker words

Therapists are quick to tell us to watch our words. The unkind words that we hear from an angry spouse are those that drive a wedge in relationships.

* When will you ever learn?
* Why don’t you get it?
* How many times do I have to tell you?

“These words make the problem worse,” he said, “because the message the person hears is this: ‘I am incomplete.”

Neglect as the Silent Relationship Killer

Another deal-breaker is what Puhn refers to as “the silent killer” in relationships — neglect. “Foremost in a relationships, you need to be your mate’s head cheerleader. It’s common that over time we stop appreciating our mate, and that’s when the mate’s eyes start to wander. If you are not your mate’s head cheerleader you are leaving the job open for someone else,” she cautions.

There is a very simple way to try to resolve conflict and the words “We need to talk” won’t do it.

She is the advocate of “The 5 Minute Priority Conversation” where you put your cards on the table — but in this case think of a sandwich.

  • Bottom slice is the positive –
    ..“I love you and I miss being close to you. Can we talk about it?”
  • Between the bread you place the problem –
    ..“Our life is not what it once was and I don’t want to go on pretending that everything is fine. . . .
    ….How do you feel?”
  • The top slice is to lay out solutions –
    ..“If both of us want things to be different, then I am sure we can change the situation together.
    ….I think we need to make the relationship our number one priority. What do you think?”

Saving your relationship

For my newspaper columns I often talk with therapist Michele Weiner-Davis. She says, “It is important to know that no matter how bleak things might seem, it is possible to revitalize a relationship [even one] deeply wounded. But it takes teamwork and commitment from spouses willing to work hard at getting their relationship back on track. Re-establishing trust and finding ways to manage overwhelming painful emotions are key to the healing process.”

To help a relationship get back on track — try making words of gratitude a part of your daily conversation. Let the words, “I love you” light up your eyes so he believes that he is feeling loved. And a warm touch can be magical.


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