Marriage Advice: Want to build a stronger marriage? Watch your mouth!

Here is my marriage advice to all couples: If you want to strengthen your marriage or relationship:

Watch your mouth!

Marriage help: It’s all about the words we choose

There’s an old Bee Gees song that says, “It’s only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away.” When you and your spouse/partner were first dating, you probably used your words wisely in an effort to win over your mate’s heart. If you did, you must have been mindful of the power of your words—you suddenly became a wordsmith, highly attuned to how your words made your partner smile and laugh and want to hold you tight.

Do you still choose your words wisely while communicating with your partner?

Essential Communication Rules for a Stronger Marriage

Rule 1: Your words have power.

Rule 2: Each and every day you have thousands of words to choose from while communicating with your spouse/partner. So the words that come out of your mouth are only a thin slice of the overall word pie that’s available to you.

Rule 3: The words you select have a profound impact on your marriage or relationship (and on your own experience). Your words are continuously impacting your relationship (even if you’re unaware of it).

Rule 4: Your words are a reflection of what you’re thinking and feeling and your choice of words also shape your experiences.

Rule 5: As your marriage or relationship matures, you might plan less and blurt more. Because you’re not trying to woo your mate any longer, you will probably forget how mindful you used to be when you spoke. Odds are, you’ll start to say whatever comes to mind (expressing your feelings in their rawest form) and not really think about how those words might impact your spouse/partner.

Bring mindfulness back to your communications

“My experience is what I agree to attend to.” ~ William James

This famous quote highlights the selective nature of reality. With regards to a marriage or relationship, some people decide to attend to and focus on the missteps that happened during the day, while others choose to attend to the interactions that showed effort, good intention, and a willingness to move forward. The challenge is to do this even when it feels like the negatives are outweighing the positives.

What you attend to is also reflected in the words you use to describe your spouse/partner (to yourself and others), the feedback you give him/her, and how you speak to your mate in general.

To help you become more mindful of your words and the power they hold in your relationship (and in your life), let’s look at a few different categories that your words can be placed into.

I. Connecting Words (words that enhance intimacy):

~Words that validate and affirm;

~Words that support;

~Words that inform and educate;

~Words that heal (yes, words have the power to heal, just ask any therapist about this).

II. Disconnecting Words (words that undermine intimacy):

~Words that wound and hurt;

~Words that judge;

~Words that minimize and invalidate;

~Words that prioritize the negatives.

So you have the power to use connecting or disconnecting words at any given moment in time, in every interaction that occurs between the two of you. While this can sound daunting, it can also be very empowering.

Action Step:

For a week straight, use only connecting words—no matter what words your spouse/partner (and others in your life) chooses to use.

The goal is to stick to your conviction and remain mindful of what comes out of your mouth, even during times of stress. And if you slip up here or there, be kind to yourself (watch the words you direct at yourself!) and bring yourself back to the goal of mindful communication.