Words are powerful. And although actions are important, our words can be the things that either divide us further or soften us to one another. Sometimes, just a simple phrase can de-escalate an argument or soften someone’s heart enough for them to hear you or engage with you differently.
Imagine you come home late from working all day and the house is a mess, the kids are running around crazy and your husband is sitting on the sofa in front of the TV. Assuming he’s being lazy, you might instantly feel angry and resentful. Your natural reaction might be to ask, “Why are you just sitting there? Do you mind helping me? This place is a mess.” Imagine how the rest of the evening is going to play out between the two of you…
Now, imagine how differently the evening would unfold if you came home, put down your things and went to sit next to him on the couch. Assuming maybe he had a difficult or stressful day, you ask, “How was your day, Babe?”
Exact same situation. Different assumptions. Different words. Completely different outcomes.
Here are some life-saving phrases to use when your intention is to soften the situation and set the stage for your partner to hear you differently:
- I’m sorry.
- Help me see your perspective (because if you feel that strongly, clearly I’m missing something).
- I will always want what is best for you.
- Tell me what you need.
- How can I make this better?
- How can I do this differently?
- I believe in you.
- I believe in us.
- I know that you believe in me too.
- I’m willing to see this differently.
- I’d like to feel closer to you.
- Let’s leave the past behind us (so that we can create a different future together).
- Here’s what I feel like I’m missing in our relationship…
- I appreciate you.
- The thing I appreciate most about you is…
- I know we’re going through a difficult time, but I’m willing to do what’s necessary to get us through this.
- How can I ease your pain?
- What can I do to make your day easier?
- When I think of my future, it’s always been with you.
- You are the most important person in my life.
- You’re safe with me.
- I’m here.
- I’m listening.
- I hear you.
- I see you.
- I understand what you’re saying.
- What can I do to make you feel more loved?
- I still remember the day we met.
- You’re so beautiful / handsome.
- Thank you.
And then there are times when no words make a much bigger impact:
- Reaching out to touch an arm or hold a hand…
- Looking in each other’s eyes…
- A long embrace…
And when all else fails and you just don’t know what to say…say: “I love you. We can do better.”