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14 Things That We Shouldn’t Say to Our Partners Anymore (and What to Say Instead)

14 Things That We Shouldn’t Say to Our Partners Anymore (and What to Say Instead)

It’s not always easy to express what’s going on in our heart and mind. Whether it be telling a loved one about a problem that’s been upsetting us or simply telling a friend we don’t want to go out, our emotions and feelings might get in the way of our intended message. The person we’re talking to may feel hurt, get defensive, or offended. As confrontational as misunderstandings and disagreements can be, they cannot be completely avoided.

However, we are more likely to have healthy relationships if we think more consciously about how and what we say to others. And there is one particular relationship where this is so important—and that is the romantic relationship we have with our partner.

Here are 14 things that we shouldn’t say to our partners anymore (and what to say instead).

1. Instead of “I hate it when you…” say “It’d help a lot if you…”

We all have quirks. We might even have “bad habits” that grate on the nerves of others. But when you choose to be in a relationship with someone, you make a conscious decision to accept the “good” with the “bad.” As annoying or frustrating some character traits or behaviors may be, it is still a part of the person whom you care deeply about.

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Keeping this in mind, you need to be gentle in your approach. For example, you could say, “It’d help a lot if you put your dishes in the sink when you’re finished. It just makes it easier for me when I’m cleaning up after dinner.” This approach acknowledges your true feelings without hurting the other person. Telling your partner about any kind of upset does not need to be confronting in an aggressive way. You can speak up and still minimize conflict.

2. Instead of “You don’t care about how I feel” say “Sometimes I don’t feel that you take my feelings into consideration.”

When our partner says and/or does something that’s upsetting, it’s easy to assume that they don’t care about you at all. But chances are, that’s far from the truth. All of us are capable of hurting someone else, regardless of whether that was the intention or not. But what’s important is that they validate how we feel.

Rather than assuming that they don’t care, it is more respectful to say, “Sometimes I don’t feel that you take my feelings into consideration.” This will give your partner a chance to ask why you feel that way and put you both on the path to finding a solution.

3. Instead of “You don’t even try.” say “I’d like you to put in more effort.”

We all have our own responsibilities and priorities. Sometimes there are periods in our lives that are busier than others. But this doesn’t mean that we don’t care about our partner. If you’re someone who is feeling a bit neglected and thinks their partner doesn’t make an active effort anymore, then approach the topic with your partner, but be kind.

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Your partner may be working hard to make ends meet; they may be going through a crisis and need your help, or maybe they’re not “trying as hard” but don’t realize it. Rather than be confrontational, gently tell them, “I’d like you to put in more effort” and elaborate on the area that is upsetting you.

4. Instead of “You don’t love me.” say “I wish you’d paid more attention to me.”

There may be times during our relationships that we feel unloved, or that we don’t feel that our partner cares about us as much as we thought they did. It’s important that we vocalize these feelings. We can do this by saying to our partner, for example, “I wish you’d paid more attention to me.” If they’re the right person for you, they will want to know why you feel this way and how they can stop you from feeling this way.

5. Instead of “You never tell me how you’re feeling.” say “I know it’s hard for you to open up, but I’d like to know what you’re feeling.”

For many people, it’s hard for them to express how they’re feeling. They might not even know what it is that they’re feeling. Rather than be confrontational, try a much gentler approach and say, “I know it’s hard for you to open up, but I’d like to know what you’re feeling.” This approach acknowledges that it’s not easy for your partner and encourages them to talk about it.

6. Instead of “You never treat me as an equal.” say “I’d like you to help more with…”

If you feel that your partner doesn’t do their part in helping around the house, with the children, and/or value your opinion—it could be quite possible that they don’t realize it. So, a “you” statement might just leave them feeling defensive. Instead, tell them, “I’d like you to help more around the house/with the kids” or “I wish I could have more of a say in where we eat dinner.” These statements are far more direct and a better indication of what is upsetting you.

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7. Instead of “You never think about the future.” say “I’ve been thinking about _____ and was wondering what your thoughts are on this?”

Although people can have very differing views of short-term and long-term goals, it is never appropriate to label them as “right” or “wrong.” People value different things and have different plans for the future. If your partner is quite different than you in this respect, you need to remember that they may not look at life the same way you do. So, if you still want to approach this topic, it would be more appropriate to say, for example, “I’ve been thinking about _____ and was wondering what your thoughts are on this? I just want to see if we’re on the same page.” This would seem less of a personal attack on your partner and also help you to better understand where the relationship is heading.

8. Instead of “You can’t…” say “I don’t like it when you…”

As much as relationships add value to our lives, it’s important for us to value ourselves and our independence. As much as you dislike some aspect of your partner’s life, you can’t ban them from behavior you don’t agree with. You can’t force them to follow a different direction. For example, you can’t say, “You can’t go drinking with your friends” because you hate drinking. You can, however, accept that is a part of them and who they are. You can still be honest and say, “I don’t like it when you drink so much because…”

9. Instead of “I don’t like your family and/or friends.” say “I’m worried that your family and/or friends are having a negative impact on your life.”

It’s quite possible that you don’t actually like your partner’s family and/or friends. But you need to re-evaluate your reasons for this and whether your feelings have more to do with you than with them. Are you feeling jealous that your partner spends so much time with them? If that is the case, you could try saying, “I’d love to spend more time with you.” If your reasons are definitely tied to your partner’s family and/or friends, then be honest. You could say, “I’m worried that your family and/or friends are having a negative impact on your life.” then add your reasons for why you believe this.

10. Instead of “Why did you come home so late?” say “I was really worried about you. I wish that you’d let me know that you were running late.”

This statement itself doesn’t sound particularly confronting, but the problem lies more in the tone. Communication is key in any relationship, but sometimes, your partner might have plans that come up out of the blue. If you wish they’d called or messaged to say they’re running late, it might be better to say, “I was really worried about you. I wish that you’d let me know that you were running late.” This gets your message across, without adding further anxiety to your partner’s mental state. Maybe your partner was late for a perfectly valid reason and is already feeling quite remorseful about it.

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11. Instead of “Why do you spend so much money?” say “I’m worried about how we’re spending our money.”

Many people differ with their spending habits. They prioritize certain types of spending over others. If you are worried that your partner’s spending is affecting your finances as a couple, it is reasonable that you want to speak up. However, just like every other topic, this should be done tactfully. You could try saying, “I’m worried about how we’re spending our money. Maybe we could both work out areas where we could cut down on our spending?” This shows that you’re not just “pointing a finger.”

12. Instead of “All you do is work.” say “I’m worried about you working so hard.”

Life is about trying our best to maintain balance, but it’s also about plenty of responsibility. Your partner might be quite passionate about their career, have extra deadlines to meet, or simply not have realized that they are overworking themselves. Rather than finding ‘fault’ with their behavior, express your concern. Try saying, “I’m worried about you working so hard. I miss spending time with you.” Hopefully, your partner will see that your comments come from a kind and loving place—and they will be more likely to re-evaluate their priorities.

13. Instead of “It’s all your fault.” say “When you do/say _____, I feel _____.”

When you’re having a disagreement with your partner, it’s easy to fall into the “them vs you” trap, to believe that everything is about “winning.” But it’s not. In order to grow as a couple and to learn from each other, you must both be willing to accept responsibility for the relationship. Rather than laying blame on your partner, it’s more constructive to say, “When you do/say _____, I feel _____.” If your partner understands how you feel and feels remorseful, then you can both work together to find a solution.

14. Instead of “I want you to change.” ask yourself, “What can I do to help the relationship?”

It’s so easy to look outwards as opposed to inwards, to focus on the weaknesses of others. But in order to have a healthy relationship, it’s important to compromise, to learn from our partner, to stop the finger pointing and ‘”blame game,” and to make changes within ourselves that will improve us and the relationship. When we choose someone to be our partner, we choose all of them. Both their strengths and weaknesses, even their flaws. If one of their character traits is affecting the relationship, you could gently say, “It hurts me when you ____.”

e need to focus on how we’re feeling, not on labeling our partner. It is not our job to “change” someone. We do, however, have the chance to help them fulfill their potential, to be an encourager and motivator, to reveal their own inner beauty. When you choose to stand by their side, you’re choosing to work together and make each other better. It’s these types of healthy relationships that impact us for the better and help us to become the person that we were destined to be.

Featured photo credit: Nick Fuentes via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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