After my husband and I got engaged, we took part in a pre-marital course where they partner you with a ‘mentor’ couple and we worked through topics like communication and finances, etc. (Another couple in the group cracked us up because while the girl had been living on her own for a few years, her fiance was a University student who lived at home with his parents. In the budgeting session, he estimated that their monthly grocery bill would be $250. Haaaaaaaaaa.)
Our mentor couple had us over for dinner one night and gave us some valuable communication tips tha we still use today (including the fact that it’s okay to go to bed angry - things always look better in the morning). Here are a few of them.
Refrain from using ‘always.’ You ALWAYS tune me out when I’m trying to talk to you! Really? ALWAYS? That’s a surefire way to put someone on the defensive at first go. On that note …
The same thing goes for ‘never.’ You NEVER help out around here. That’s not going to lead to a calm and civilized discussion.
Don’t say you should. Instead start with ‘I feel.’ Saying I feel like I do more housework than you do is a little softer than saying You should do more housework around here.
‘Shut up’ is off limits. Hey. We don’t let our kids say it for good reason, why should we say it to our spouse?
(Side note. If one of us slips and starts with ‘You should’, the other will reply with ‘You should shut up.’ It’s a joke, we laugh, and we start again.)
Don’t call each other names. This should be a no-brainer, but I think it’s more common than it should be. In over twelve years of marriage, my husband has never called me a (negative) name, nor has he sworn at me. We’re not ones to cuss (much), but I think it does a lot to create trust between us.
Do you have things that you’ve agreed not to say to each other?