Articles About Love and Marriage
What to Say to the One You Love
We have learned lots of interesting and important lessons from the thousands of successfully married couples we have interviewed over the years – of that you can be sure. There is no question – the wisdom of these wonderful marriages humbles us when we are in their presence, and we have been married for nearly 43 years ourselves!
Over the years we have heard advice from successfully married couples regarding the five things you should say to your spouse everyday and the five things you should never say to your spouse!
First, the positive. The five things you should say to your spouse everyday:
1. I love you. These are the three favorite words of every spouse. It is a simple, direct, powerful, and highly meaningful statement. And don’t fall into the trap of so many couples who say, “Oh, I don’t need to tell him/her I love him/her. He/she knows I do. You still must still tell them multiple times each and every day.
2. I am so lucky to be married to you! If you want to touch the heartstrings of the one you love, tell them this. Just imagine, being reminded every day that you are a blessing to the one you share your life with.
3. You look beautiful (handsome)! There is a major truth we have learned over the years – successfully married couples really do find each other attractive. And you know why – because they look for the most positive characteristics in each other in both a psychological as well as a physical sense. Telling each other this daily is a powerful statement of love.
4. I would like your opinion about this or that. Successfully married couples have great admiration and respect for each other. They value each other’s opinions. Their most trusted advisor in life is their spouse. Ask their opinion and acknowledge their wisdom. They will love you for it.
5. And finally, everyday of your life with the one you love, point out one of their strengths. Try this – “Sweetheart, did I ever tell you how much I admire the positive way you treat others?” Or, “Honey, you have such wonderful taste in clothes!” Make sure the strength you highlight is a true strength, but each and every day, highlight one or more of the strengths of your soul-mate.
Just as important as saying the right thing to the one you love is to avoid saying statements that have the potential to destroy the foundation of the relationship. Saying just one wrong thing can negate an entire day of good statements and actions. Negative and hurtful statements can have the power to cut through the very fabric of the bond between two people in love.
Here are those five things you should NEVER say to your spouse:
1. It’s your fault! Sometimes, a financial decision goes bad, one of your children gets in trouble at school, or some household calamity occurs. And know this – things do go bad from time to time in any relationship. Decisions turn out wrong. Stuff happens! But the blame game never works! It alienates. It divides. It most certainly undermines trust and openness in your relationship.
2. I told you so! Trust us on this – these four words are rarely ever used in successful marriages. This kind of “comeuppance” has no place in a loving relationship. There is no need to remind your spouse that you were right about something and they were wrong. Talk about wasted criticism!
3. Saying “I am upset with you about this or that . . . .” in a public setting. Telling private secrets or criticizing your spouse in public or to someone else can do permanent damage to the trust in your relationship. True or not – it doesn’t matter. Keep private things private.
4. Why do you always . . . Focusing on your spouse’s weakness rather than building on their strengths will only increase their weakness and diminish their strength. This habit can send a relationship into a downward spiral if weaknesses are pointed out and commented upon. Success does breed success. Stick with the strengths and don’t focus on weakness.
5. Ask for your spouse’s opinion and then do the opposite. We have heard from many angry divorced or almost divorced couples that this is the greatest indicator of “disrespect.” If you ask where your spouse wants to go to dinner and he/she suggests a couple of places, then you select a different one, by your actions you said, “I do not respect your opinion and don't care what you think!”
Since saying negative or hurtful things can be damaging to a loving relationship, it is wise to take extra caution before engaging your mouth when these negative thoughts come into your mind. Here are some quick tips to help you THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!
1. Will my comment hurt? Sometimes we just blurt out things that are hurtful or negative without thinking about their impact.
2. Am I just mad and do I need to wait before I speak? When you are mad is not a good time to judge whether a statement will have long-lasting negative impact. Just be silent for a moment to determine if you are acting reasonably or if you are too mad to judge the damage you will invoke by your statement.
3. Is it worth it? There is so much long-term damage that can be caused by negative or hurtful comments that it really has to be a critically important issue to take that type of risk.
4. Could it be said a different way? Many times a negative or hurtful statement can be said in a positive manner with a bit of thought. Often with that bit of thought it will also be apparent that there really was no need to make the statement at all.
While actions speak louder than words, it is also true that words can help build an understanding between two people and cement a lasting relationship. On the flip side, all too often people forget that one negative or hurtful statement can undo an entire day’s positive actions and words, damaging the very core of the relationship. So, be mindful of choosing words that will enhance your relationship each and every day. Your spouse will love you for it!
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
Authors of Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book 2009 Nautilus Book Awards
(Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.
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