02/08/2014 06:17 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

You Can Prevent a Divorce - Part 3

Words Can Change Your Marriage

Remember grandma saying, "One rotten apple can ruin a bunch"? Well, there is much wisdom in this old saying -- as what applies to apples also applies to your marriage. Words can destroy or build your relationship and the choice is yours. It is as simple as that.

Over the last number of years there has been much research with regards to the power of intention and the consequences that flow from that. Intention in the form of words is sometimes spoken out loud and other times to our selves. Research shows that our brains do not know the difference between the two. Further, neuroscience has proven that what we think is what we are and the words we use are whom we are. Our words can either bring peace, love, health or hate, anger and disease.


Any one in a long-term marriage has experienced the vast range of emotions that an intimate relationship produces. These emotions are normal and healthy when labeled and shared for what they are -- sad, angry, hurt, happy, excited etc. It is when negative emotions drive harmful words that we see relationships destroyed.

Regardless of the topic or the level of emotional charge, we can choose our words to either bring harm or resolution. Those on the receiving end of negatively charged words will not hear your message anyway. The entire time you are in attack mode, they are positioning for a counter attack or they are on the defensive. Either way, your words have accomplished nothing but caused you more inner turmoil. A much healthier way of communicating is to have the discipline to choose your words and body language very carefully. This is a recipe for a long lasting marriage that is loving, trusting and respectful.

Try implementing some of my take away tips for emotionally charged conversations into your daily communication. You may find your relationships start to shift.

  1. Never speak when you are emotionally charged. Always ask for a few minutes to calm down. Use deep breathing exercises and focus on positive images -- then reengage.
  2. Once you say something hurtful -- you can never take it back. The goal is to avoid having to say you are sorry by considering the consequences before you speak or act. You must learn to have self-control.
  3. If the words you choose are not going to build your relationship (with the other person or yourself) in a healthy way -- do not speak them. Even if you are delivering feedback, you can do that is a loving way. Find words that build trust and deliver your message in a constructive way.
  4. Work on your communication skills. There are great books such as "Crucial Conversations" and "Words Can Change Your Brain" that provide great insight and tools for healthy communication.
  5. You can speak your truth in a way that does not destroy. Consider that every harmful or egocentric word that you speak is actually a complete reflection of you and really has nothing to do with the other person.
  6. Learn to not react. If someone speaks negatively to you, you do not own it unless you respond in a negative way back.
  7. Understand your personal values at a very deep level so that when faced with conflict you can stay grounded in what really matters to you.
  8. If you label another person with a characteristic -- the irony is that you can only recognize that flaw if you own it yourself. Hmm -- interesting twist isn't it?
  9. Listen way more than you speak. When you are emotionally charged you are likely to talk faster, louder and more. Be aware when this happens and slow down.
  10. Learn to use probing language. Ask "What" and "How" questions to get to the root of the issue. This is a great tool if the conversation is causing you stress as it allows you to stay present. Also, by asking questions you avoid reacting in a negative way and you can use this listening time to calm down.

To read more on preventing divorce, please visit my other preventing divorce blogs at: