What Not to Say During a Fight with Your Beloved
Don’t say: “You always” or “You never” or “You’re a [slob, jerk]” or “You’re wrong.”
Why: Speaking in absolutes like “you always” and “you’re wrong” is playing the blame game, and resorting to name calling makes your partner feel helpless, which puts him on the defensive and makes a bad fight worse.
Instead say: “I’m upset that you left the dishes in the sink again. What can we do so that this stops happening?” Starting with the pronoun I puts the focus on how you feel, not why he’s in the doghouse, and it will make him more receptive to fixing the problem.
Don’t say: “If you really loved me, you would...”
Why: The more you treat your partner as if he’ll never satisfy you, the less satisfied you’ll be. Controlling your partner by imploring him to do something isn’t a good way to build intimacy.
Instead say: “I feel taken for granted when you don’t help around the house. I would feel better if we could…” The best way to keep a productive fight from becoming a dirty one is to be clear about why you’re upset and then offer a solution.
Expert: Terrence Real, a family therapist in Newton, Massachusetts.