We don’t have to look very hard to see couples who are struggling in their relationships. But why? What causes them to struggle and not get along?
Relationships are a two-way union that require a good amount of love, respect, and courtesy. We must be willing to put their needs before ours at times, and we also must be willing to put away our pride and back down during disagreements. This article examines some important phrases and questions couples should be using.
In all the years that my wife and I have been married, we have learned that there are things we can say to escalate a situation as well as to diffuse a situation. It always comes down to a choice in the moment.
Some of the points I have written in this article are statements and some are questions. Either way, all should be utilized when necessary to show that we care about them and the relationship and that we are willing to help out when needed.
Some relationships become one-sided where one person does all the chores, tasks, work, and the other just sits around. There isn’t a lot involved here with the phrases I’ve listed in this article, rather, just a bit of courtesy for the most part.
Isn’t that what we all want anyway; a bit of courtesy?
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Practice these 10 phrases and questions for a healthy relationship
I’m sure there are more of these questions and statements I could’ve come up with, but I think ten is a good number to get started with. Not every couple will need to focus on all ten as they are likely already doing many of these.
Like many of my articles, I don’t write very profound stuff, but instead, important stuff that is a good refresher for many folks.
My goal is to see couples get through the difficulties and come out together stronger and able to live a long life together happily.
Consider these following ten phrases I have listed here. If there are any that you or your partner have grown slack in, look for the benefit of making them part of your conversations again and watch your relationship flourish.
- I love you
- Can I help you with that?
- I will call you and let you know if anything changes
- What can I do to help you through this?
- What would you like to do?
- I’m sorry, I was wrong
- You are beautiful/handsome
- I noticed you are really good at …
- Whatever it is, I support you
- What you are doing is bothering me
1. I love you
The first point here is obvious and the most common, so I’ll start here.
Why is this phrase so hard for some couples to say? I know that in the first years it is more common, but as time progresses, it’s like we just assume our partner knows that we love them. But I would argue that it’s a good idea to keep using this phrase regardless of the stage of the relationship.
When we hear the words “I love You” often, it feeds on our confidence and self-esteem. Life and work can get pretty demanding at times and when things aren’t going well, it’s almost like we start feeling worthless to a degree.
If we never hear these words, we can start questioning whether the love truly is still there or not. If this simple phrase is left unsaid, what is the intimate life like? I won’t go there in this article, but we must not let our standards slip too low or the relationship might start to fall apart too.
A simple “I love you” when waking up and before going to sleep is a good habit to get into. If possible, say it a few times throughout the day too when we see our partner. I believe that this is a good way to remind them constantly that we do in fact love them and want to be with them.
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2. Can I help you with that?
As time goes on in relationships, we can get complacent. We can get set in our ways and we can sometimes even border on selfish.
The idea here is that when we see our partner doing something, we can offer a helping hand. Do they need it? Not necessarily. But it shows courtesy and that we aren’t too important to get up and pitch in.
Sometimes we take on too much and we can get overworked. It is in these times where it’s nice to get a helping hand where someone takes up our slack a bit. Simply helping out with a task or two to lighten their load can make a world of difference for them.
They might not even want or require any help, but at least you’ll get brownie points for asking, right?
Besides, the faster the tasks and chores get done, the sooner the couple can get to having some quality together-time watching a movie or talking or whatever the couple likes to do.
3. I will call you and let you know if anything changes
This point isn’t that straight forward; what I mean is that we should be willing to let our partner know if we will be late after work or if we are going to make extra stops and mess up the schedule.
Some couples will spend a lot of time fighting because one of them will continuously come home late or be missing in action.
Not only does this worry our partner, it also has the potential to start raising flags of suspicion. The last thing that we want to do is break the trust in our relationships. Once that happens, it is very difficult to have a fun and healthy relationship.
Also, by not giving our partner a courtesy-call, it’s quite disrespectful to them. Now, I realize that not everyone who reads this will be guilty of this habit, but I thought I should include it into my list as it’s vitally important in building trust and security in a relationship.
So, in the event we will be late after work or stopping at a friend’s house to catch a game, we should be willing to give a quick call or text to let them in on our change of plans.
4. What can I do to help you through this?
Sometimes, our partner will come home, and they will be carrying a heavy load. They might’ve had a rough day at work or a poor drive in traffic. Whatever the case, we should be there for them asking if there is anything we can do for them.
There might not be something we can do, but it is supportive and loving to at least offer. Most times, we just need to be a listening ear for them to unload and unwind. This is a good time to offer them a seat and go get them a beverage of some sort.
By letting them talk it out while we listen, they will relieve some built-up pressure. There might not be a fix and we shouldn’t automatically go right to finding a solution. Sometimes, just by talking for a bit, the emotions calm down and the situation becomes smaller than it originally appeared.
However, sometimes, there is something we can do that can help them with whatever is bothering them. We don’t want to see our partner struggling and dealing with a heavy load alone.
I bring this point up because sometimes a partner will come home after a hard day and they will come across as angry and maybe aggressive. If the other partner doesn’t sense there is some external issue, they might get defensive right away and this is how fights break out.
Instead of the evening turning out nice after letting them unload for a while, now both are arguing and are frustrated.
Instead of instantly getting defensive in this situation, take a moment and try to find out what has set them off or pressured them up.
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5. What would you like to do?
We can get in the habit of always wanting to do what we want. We get set in our ways and we come home and sit down and do our thing. When it’s time to go somewhere, the dominant one in the relationship often just makes the plans without considering what the other might want to do.
It is important to switch things up periodically. Sometimes we do what we want, and sometimes we do what our partner wants. We chose the restaurant last time, so this time, they get to choose.
Does this sound kind of juvenile? I suppose. But if we get in the habit of always getting our way and only ever doing what we want to do, how fun is this relationship for the other, right?
My wife gets annoyed with me about this because she will ask me where we want to go for lunch or dinner when we’re out, and I’ll say, “It doesn’t matter.”
She knows I have favorites, but I really don’t often care. I get joy from seeing my wife enjoy the food she likes, and I would rather give up my favorite meals to see her have a good time.
When it’s my birthday or some special reason that I get to choose, then I pick what I want, but otherwise, I often give her the choice.
6. I’m sorry, I was wrong
For me, this is easy. I have a habit of saying sorry too often and sometimes it drives people nuts. However, there are some people who couldn’t be bothered to ever use this word.
In relationships, couples have disagreements all the time. It is pride often that is behind most arguments and break-ups. A simple “I’m Sorry” can do wonders when times turn bad.
If we are willing to back down and diffuse the disagreement, we can often restore the relationship back to pleasant. It’s when we decide to stand our grounds and have a need to be right that we can take things too far.
Sadly, couples break up good relationships because of small things. Instead of giving in and saying sorry, they get defensive and push back.
I have learned in the twenty-plus years of being married to my wife that if I don’t want to have a bad evening, that it’s important to just give in and apologize. Sometimes I’m wrong, and sometimes not. But either way, instead of letting things escalate to a state of rage and frustration, we have learned to let it go and cool off for a while.
Also, we have found that making things right before we go to bed is important and helpful. Not only do we sleep much better when we aren’t overly ticked off, we also wake up in the morning ready to start a new day with a new attitude.
7. You are beautiful/handsome
We should be willing to compliment our partner every now and then. Some couples don’t do this, and it might be okay, but it might also work in a negative way.
We all want to be confident and feel good about ourselves. We also want our partner to be attracted to us too, right?
By telling our partner, “You look good tonight” or “Your hair looks really nice that way,” we show our attraction to them and they get to feel good about the compliment also.
When we are first dating, this is easy to do. We get in the habit of saying nice things to one another. It’s often later, like everything else, where we get lazy and stop saying the little things that matter.
Especially, if our partner goes out of their way to dress up for us, we should be very careful to give them some attention and say some nice things. It was obviously important for them to go out of their way to spend time and effort to do so.
And, one more thing to add here; accept the compliment when it’s given. My wife gets annoyed with me as she likes to compliment me often. I should enjoy this, but sometimes I’m in a mood for whatever reason. So, in this time, she will say something nice to me to help pick me up a bit, and I will say something back like: “Ah, you have to say that; I’m your husband.”
Of course, she doesn’t have to say anything. She does it because she’s kind and genuinely wants me to be in a better mood. I am learning to not say stuff like that and accept the compliments, but I am a work in progress.
8. I noticed you are really good at …
Sometimes, we notice that our partner is very good at something. When we see this, we should point it out to them and encourage them to act on it further. We never know what can turn into something bigger.
Some people have strong skills in this or that but might not have the self-esteem to notice that they are good at it. We can help them see their talent and even encourage them to try and build on it.
Why would we do this?
Many couples are struggling to get ahead in the financial game these days. The marketplace is so competitive that it’s a struggle to just earn a good wage. If a couple can find alternative ways to create income, it’s possible that they can set up a home business where they work together and can have better hours. This is one reason to tell our partner that we think they are great at something.
Another reason is that it’s just nice to point out people’s gifts and compliment them. It’s always nice to hear something good about ourselves. When people say nice stuff about us, we want to be around them more too.
9. Whatever it is, I support you
Okay, so this comes with some caution of course. We can’t just say that we support everything, but when it comes to our partner, we must let them know that we stand behind them. The only time we won’t be supportive is when it breaks the law or is a bad habit that is damaging to the relationship.
Otherwise, our partner should be able to count on us for anything they ask of us. We should be willing to take their side over anyone, because our partner is our closest friend we can possibly have. After all, we vowed to do life with them, right?
Sometimes, taking their side might step on the toes of others, but it always works out better for the relationship when we do this.
In the event that our partner is doing something that we just can’t get behind, then it is vital for the relationship for us to take some time to talk with them about it. We can’t just leave it be or get involved with something that goes against our beliefs or morals.
10. What you are doing is bothering me
This last point might not be popular with everyone, but it is also very important. Why? Because if we allow something to go on and we don’t say anything about it, we risk building bitterness and resentment towards them for it.
Pet peeves are something that someone does that annoys us. We are better off in the long-run to tell our partner when they are doing something that really bothers us. Of course, we can’t expect them to be overly happy with this, but for the sake of each person living in the house and enjoying their time there, we must be willing to make some changes.
If they do something that annoys us, chances are, we probably do something that annoys them too. This is a great time to both make necessary changes and move on with it.
Some things can’t change. For those things, we must work together to find a tolerable solution for each other. Think of snoring. It is very troublesome for both, yet, there is very little that can be done about it.
People who snore don’t often get good sleeps, and people who try to sleep beside someone who snores don’t often get good sleeps either.
We can voice our complaint to them about whatever it is, but we should also be willing to help find a useful solution for it.
I know I have raised some points that not everyone will love. But a long-lasting relationship requires certain actions and habits, and without them, the relationship risks falling apart.
Effective communication with each other is the first line of defense against most issues in relationships. We must make our partner feel safe to talk to us and we must feel safe to talk to them. The better the communication, the better the health of the relationship.
If you have any tips to add to this article, please share helpful comments for others to enjoy and put to practice.
How to get your spouse to hear you, by Mort Fertel.