Relationship experts always say that communication is an essential part of any good marriage. However, the reality is that many couples still find themselves trying to resolve conflicts in their marriages brought about by communication problems with their respective partners.
Dr. Gary Chapman, author of Everybody Wins: The Chapman Guide to Solving Conflicts Without Arguing, touches on the importance of listening in an article he wrote for Marriage Partnership Magazine:
“The most common mistake couples make while trying to resolve conflicts is to respond before they have the full picture. This inevitably leads to arguments. When people respond too quickly, they often respond to the wrong issue. Listening helps us focus on the heart of the conflict. When we listen, understand, and respect each other’s ideas, we can then find a solution in which both of us are winners.”
Whether you agree with Dr. Chapman or not, if you’re a married person, you know that there are certain things you’d rather not hear your spouse say. From the seemingly mundane to the deeply meaningful, particular phrases might end up becoming a trigger for conflicts within your marriage, such as these:
1. “Have you done this yet?” Tristan Haber, a life and financial coach, has been married to Gen for four years. The couple has two kids ages 3 years and 10 months.
Tristan shares, “I don’t like it being nagged. However, most of the time, when Gen nags me to do something, it really is time to do it.”
2. “Drink your vitamins.” Don Gelido, a teacher, says he particularly dislikes it when her statements sound like something his mom would say, like ‘drink your vitamins’, although he admits knowing she means well.
3. “You're not doing it right.” Stay-at-home-dad, runner and blogger Jinoe Gavan says he dislikes hearing his wife Que say this, especially when his main intention is to lend her a helping hand.
“Sometimes, I would help in some household chores like washing the dishes, doing the laundry and ironing the clothes,” he shares. “But when my wife catches me, she is quick to point out that I am doing it too slow or that I am not doing it right. I was hoping she'd appreciate the act and even find it romantic. But I get criticized instead and so I’d feel discouraged.”
4. “This is what we’re going to do today.” Paul Cuyugan, who is in the insurance industry, says he sometimes gets peeved when his wife, Patty, says she has “a set plan for the day, because most times she'll just change her mind and not do the plan, or not do anything at all.”
5. “’Yan ka na naman!” (“There you go again!”) Engineer Darwin Reyes and his wife both agree that this is a phrase that neither of them like hearing. “It's usually a prelude to an argument,” Darwin explains. “Also, it kind of implies that I’m doing something bad or wrong repeatedly when half of the time I’m not.”
6. “You work too much.” Rowin Santos and his wife, Menchie, have been married for 15 years so he says their relationship is like an open book. He shares, “Unbelievable as this may sound, there has never been a personal remark from my wife that I have resented because I know in my heart that her words for me are words of care and concern.
“However, the rare times that I feel somewhat misunderstood is whenever I work until late at night and she would jest that I ‘work too much and have less time for the kids.’”
Still, Rowin knows that Menchie means well. "I know she means quality time and proper rest time for me, too.”
7. “I’m so tired and depressed!” Architect Daniel Herrera leads a busy, and sometimes stressful life, as a senior project designer at The Gettys Group and a husband and dad to two young boys. So it makes sense that he sometimes gets annoyed when Normi, his wife, “rants about being too tired, being depressed because she rarely goes out, or not getting quality rest” when she sees that he’s under a lot of stress as well.
“My wife is a work-at-home mom. She does freelance writing and social media management. It was a step of faith for us and I understand how this set-up can be pressuring, since she is mainly a fulltime homemaker, too,” Daniel expounds.
“So when she reaches the point where she gets too stressed juggling article submissions, managing the home and being hands-on to a toddler and an infant, as well as attend to my needs, her rants can be discouraging. I am mostly tired from work, too.”
But Daniel emphasizes that he appreciates Normi for “trying to be on top of things even if she has to sacrifice her comfort to be a good homemaker and responsible work-at-home mom,” so he makes an effort to hear her out and affirm her in what she does for their family.
8. “When I die…” What husband worth his salt likes hearing his wife talk about her death, right? This is exactly what chief technology officer EJ Arboleda prefers not to hear from Ginger, his wife of five years.
“I hate it when she starts talking about morbid things, i.e. ‘When I die, I want you to look for a good mother for Zeeka,’” he says. “It's intensely melodramatic and downright depressing.”
9. “If _____ (name of husband’s ex) were in my shoes…” Reniel Barroso, a mechanical engineer who has been married for five years, says he is particularly annoyed when his wife says, “Paano kung si ______ (other women in my past) ang nasa situation ko, sila sana ang nag-eenjoy/nag-susuffer ngayon."
“I don't like hearing this from her because it makes me feel that my decision to choose her to be my wife was wrong or half-baked. It also makes her self-esteem and self-worth low, which makes me really uncomfortable.”
10. “…….” Many husbands would probably agree with social media ROI specialist Marvin Macatol when he says he doesn’t like it when, instead of saying hurtful words, his wife suddenly clams up.
“We’ve been married for 12 years, going on 13. I actually can’t think of anything that I don’t like to hear from her. It's the silent treatment that I don't like and she knows it.”
At the end of the day, whatever it is our spouses say that bother us, it’s still best to try to look beyond the words they say and focus on more essential matters, i.e. on how we can be better communicators, and how we can be better partners to them.
“Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.” – Barnett R. Brickner