Marriages may fail, or at the very least atrophy from the over-use of negative words. Phrases such as, “Well it’s not my fault…” or, “Do you know what your problem is?” certainly do not advocate a healthy marriage relationship. Likewise, some negative words may be cast in a subtle way, leaving the listener to interpret them negatively. Phrases such as, “Our house is far too cluttered for company,” may be translated as, “What have you been doing all day?” These kinds of comments can build up over time, and piece by piece, comment by comment, they suck the life out of the marriage. These statements are almost always individualistic in nature. They are self-centered, not marriage centered.
In order to avoid this, there are some positive phrases every person in every relationship needs to say on a regular basis. These words ensure that each partner sees the marriage relationship as far more important than their own pride and ego. Five of these statements are as follows:
1. I am sorry.
Each an every one of us is going to mess up in our marriage. None of us have life all figured out. So, it stands to reason that the person we share our lives with most intimately will be the person who sees all the inconsistencies and fallibility in our lives. The ability to say, “I’m sorry,” shows humility. Humility is an important part of marriage because it recognizes that we have made and will make mistakes and that we care enough to recognize that our spouse can be hurt by us. It is often easier to recognize our spouse’s need to say they are sorry, to recognize that they have inconsistencies and selfish ways. That is the reason “I’m sorry” must be part of a good marriage. When we recognize there is nothing we can do to control how the other person acts, thinks or views us we come to realize that we are only responsible for ourselves. It is only our own inadequacies, failures and selfishness that we can change. We must be willing to be humble and say we are sorry for the problems we bring to the equation.
2. I forgive you.
In marriage (as with all relationships) we must learn to forgive. We must learn to forgive for a very fundamental reason: we so desperately need forgiveness ourselves. There are times where we are wronged by our spouse and there are times when our spouse is wronged by us. Withholding forgiveness locks our marriage in a prison and holds our spouse at arms length. There is no satisfaction on either side in the absence of forgiveness, just an angry mess. Learning to forgive all offenses, whether small or large, is important to a healthy marriage. It releases a divine power to love within the relationship and true oneness can only occur when no offense is being held. Forgiveness is not so much a feeling as it is a choice. Make the choice to forgive and allow the emotional side of things follow.
3. I need you.
Every human has a deep longing to understand their purpose. While marriage cannot answer that question for every individual (as that is a much deeper spiritual search) marriage is certainly part of how an individual’s purpose is to be lived out. Admitting out loud that you need your spouse is humbling yourself before them. It’s confessing that they bring something to the relationship that you cannot provide. It’s owning up to the fact that you’re not as great as you think you are. Not only that, but admitting to your spouse that you need them makes them feel appreciated in countless ways as well. To be needed often means to be appreciated.
4. I appreciate you.
Most days are filled with the same mundane and routine tasks. We get up, work, eat, relax, go to bed. Then the next day we do the same thing. In the moments of doing the ordinary things in life, if our spouse speaks appreciation for them, it serves to give our attitude a boost. Laundry, dishes, mowing the lawn and taking out the garbage are tasks that can be seen as drudgery. However, when those tasks are noticed and appreciated, there is a sense of value and worth instilled. Taking time to appreciate not just the out of the ordinary but also the normal and extremely ordinary tasks our spouse does is highly beneficial to our marriages.
5. I love you.
This one may go without saying, but truly, “I love you” are words that need to inhabit the walls of our homes. Not just the sound of them rolling off our tongues but also the actions, respect and follow through of what they mean. Love is not given because it is deserved or earned. Much like forgiveness, love is a choice. Love is not attached to a certain or specific reason, it is given to the whole being. Love is a gift, and frankly at times it is one that we don’t feel much like giving. But love is a virtue in which we must follow through. Not only saying, “I love you,” but being loving, and always believing in it’s unending power.
Have any of these words made a difference in your marriage? What would you add to the list?