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 make certain declarations by overwhelming emotions?
Reflect on these six verbal principles to fortify your relationship through your choice of words and refrain from making -- and saying -- a big mistake:
Don't play on weaknesses. Isn't it ironic that the person we love most is the one whose weaknesses we most often bring to the surface? 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 unleash extreme emotions, but don't release them on your partner (or on strangers 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. Better to speak softly and with logic when the inner tempest has died down.
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 so stupid," "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 candid 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 respecting 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. We begin to repeat the same phrases over and over, and their effects resonate less with time. 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, kind message can change your partner'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 extend 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.
Our words alone can determine the quality and duration of our relationships. If we're too quick to speak under the influence of 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.