From deep-seated sentiments pour forth powerful words. And nothing stirs the storm of emotions within us quite like love. Indeed, what we say under the influence of heavy feelings can be truly potent–in an incredible or terrible way.
We may scream things we don’t mean, confess falsehoods we think to be true, or utter such devastating statements that we leave our partner in shock. They say the truth comes out in the heat of the moment, but does it really? Or are we just pushed to certain declarations by overwhelming emotions?
Reflect on these six verbal principles to refine your choice of words and refrain from making–and saying–a big mistake.
Don’t Highlight Your Partner’s Weaknesses
Isn’t it ironic that the person we love most is the person whose weaknesses we bring to the surface most often? Telling someone what they do wrong won’t change what they do wrong. It will only make their self-esteem plummet. Then, they will act even more insecurely. But showing that person how to do things differently (especially by example) can slowly enact change. If you must criticize your partner, do so lovingly. Balance every personal weakness you bring to their attention with two inherent strengths; we all need to be reassured of what we’re doing right, too.
Keep Quiet When Angry
Speaking when you’re irritated is very different than speaking when you’re downright irate. Take a temporary backseat in moments of emotional turmoil. Refrain from being in contact with your partner while you cool off. To help, scribble down your feelings on a paper, take a brisk walk, yell at a chair (pretend they’re sitting in it), and so on. Do what you must to release extreme emotions, but don’t release them on your partner. Just don’t punch someone on the street, or you’ll have an even bigger problem (I’m joking). We often regret what we say under the burden of rage, and, unfortunately, irreversible damage is done when overly harsh words are spoken.
Don’t Put Yourself Down
Putting yourself down in front of others invites one of two behaviors: people will either pick you back up or push you down even further. Speaking things like, “I’m such an idiot,” “I can’t do anything right,” or “I’m so disappointed in myself,” promotes self-guilt. This makes you look unnecessarily weak to your partner. And while it’s perfectly normal to be open with your loved one, it’s not healthy to be completely vulnerable. There may come the day when your self-destructive words will be used against you, and this will sting terribly. Get into the habit of uplifting yourself verbally, for both your own good and the good of your relationship.
Get out of Routine Speech
Just as we get into the routine of daily life, so too do we fall into of patterns of speech. You may mean it wholeheartedly, but the charm wears off when you tell your partner “I love you” twice daily for twenty years. Broaden the channels of your loving language. Allow your fervor to surge through your words. Engage your partner in new topics. Ask about things that really matter to them to help them open up. Find new ways of saying and demonstrating your adoration.
Caution with “Extreme” Words
Extreme words are extremely effective in ending your relationship. Beware of using the word hate: “I hate it when you…” and “I hate your…” are not only hurtful phrases (depending, especially, on how they end), but they are surprisingly empty. Telling your partner you hate them doesn’t explain why, nor does it offer a solution to the problem. Instead of resorting to spiteful vocabulary, try explaining how it makes you feel: Does it bother you? Sadden you? And most importantly, why? In your eyes, what can be done?
Speak a Loving Reminder Each Day
A simple message can change a person’s entire day. It’s easy to tell our co-workers that they did a great job or our friends that they look beautiful, yet we find it so difficult to speak such encouraging words to our beloved. Thank them, if only for their loyal presence. Tell them you’re proud, even if they haven’t done much. Build up their potential each day with compassion.
Words can determine the quality and duration of our relationships. If we are too quick to speak under emotion and indifferent to what we say, we may soon see the threads of our loving bond loosen. Bear in mind these six verbal principles to solidify your relationship through the power of your language.