It's never fun to fight, but arguments are an unavoidable part of any healthy relationship. When your well-being is so closely tied to another person's actions, it's unrealistic to expect never to disagree or feel hurt.
Arguing about how money is being spent, for example, can be uncomfortable and difficult, but it can ultimately lead to better financial decision-making and deeper respect between spouses.
There are, however, a few arguments we're all guilty of having that do nothing to advance our relationships or build trust. Below are some things you might be tempted to say (or shout) to your partner, but won't do much for your relationship:
1. Your friend drives me insane.
Here's a secret: It's not the end of the world if your spouse has a friend who acts like a fool at dinner parties. That person is in your partner's life for one reason or another, and speaking ill of the offending friend will only cause strife in your relationship. Unless the friend does something that's hurtful or super inappropriate, "live and let live" is a good motto to go by.
2. Stop driving like that!
Are you truly in danger? If your partner is texting while driving or showing signs of road rage, go ahead and shout this out. Otherwise, criticizing your partner's behind-the-wheel style will get you nowhere — except into a terrible argument.
Instead of flipping your lid over a sharp turn or a refusal to ask for directions, ask your spouse if she has something on her mind (that might be distracting her) or if she wants you to take over for a while (she might be exhausted). Otherwise, use the ride as an opportunity to talk uninterrupted, get to know each other's driving styles, and make up car games only you two understand.
3. You're wearing that?
If your spouse is a fan of tell-it-to-me-straight critique, then go ahead and give your unsolicited feedback on whatever he's wearing. But if you're married to someone even slightly sensitive, avoid this kind of commentary. It's upsetting to be told you're looking less-than-fabulous — especially if you're feeling confident about your ensemble — and negative remarks will likely ruin the day you have ahead of you.
4. I make more money than you.
Unless the next part of this sentence is, "...so I'm more than happy to pick up the tab," you should never throw out this phrase during an argument. It's belittling and cruel — two things you never want to be in a relationship (or in life!) Being the breadwinner doesn't entitle you to more decision-making power or fewer at-home responsibilities, so this line of reasoning should never enter into a marital debate.
5. Don't touch my phone.
We store pretty much all of our personal information in our phones these days, but if you have nothing to hide from your spouse there should be no reason to get defensive about your device. It's totally reasonable to expect privacy and respect for your personal items, but if your spouse needs to use your phone and you freak out and tell him or her not to look through it, you're sure to get into an argument that won't be easily resolved. If you have nothing to hide in your marriage, you shouldn't be worried about what your spouse might find.
6. Well at least I've never [fill in the blank with one of your partner's weaker moments].
We've all done things we're not proud of, but bringing up that time your beloved [had a run-in with the law/cheated on a previous partner/got fired] is harsh and harmful. Make an effort to truly forgive your partner for past mistakes and withhold judgment so these comments are less likely to slip out in the heat of the moment.
And if you're feeling defensive during an argument, do your best not to resort to low blows — remember that you'll never be able to un-say the things you said when you were angry.
7. We have to see your family again?
Your in-laws might not be your favorite people, but they are your partner's family so you should expect to see them regularly. If you feel like your in-laws have unreasonable expectations (showing up unannounced, or expecting you to ditch your own family to see them on holidays), talk through it with your partner and set boundaries. And you should never insult your partner's family; even if they're getting on your nerves, it's best to keep your mouth shut about their quirks.
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