In a heat of the moment, these two words can slip out way too easily. We use them as verbal battering rams when our partners hurt our feelings.
“You never take out the trash.” “You always come home late from work.”
Do these statements sound familiar? How do you anticipate the person they’re directed against is going to react?
Likely not well. That’s because both statements are examples of “absolute speak,” a type of communication that often leads to conflict in a relationship.
Most of us have been guilty of absolute speak at some point.
“Always” and “never” are the most common words using during absolute speak. But “all”, “none”, “every”, and “only” are also words to watch for.
Most of the time, absolute speak is false. It’s an exaggeration we make to express our feelings.
It feels like your spouse never take out the trash. It feels like your spouse is always coming home late from work.
But it’s likely your spouse has taken out the trash before at some point, and that they have come home from work on time before.
Why does this matter? Here are five reasons you should avoid “always” and “never” in communication with your partner.
They limit possibilities.
This kind of conversation cuts off the possibilities of communication and understanding about each other. When we use such arguments, we put the blame directly on the other partner without even considering their circumstances. It de-motivates the person to talk and share.
This lack of communication is a big problem in a relationship. Without proper communication, it becomes even harder to understand each other’s perspectives.
The Blame Game
When we use always or never in conversation, it is essentially dumping the blame onto our partner. We claim to be the “good” half in the relationship, and they become the “bad” or self-centered person.
So it’s not surprising that absolute speak can cause your partner to shut down.
Instead, use direct and straightforward conversation. Focus on “I” statements that bring the attention back to how you feel – and not on who or what is to blame. For example, “I feel abandoned and worried when you come home late.”
This approach is more likely to result in a constructive conversation about solving the problem.
Stop Trying to Win the Argument
Most of us tend to try to “win” in an argument. It’s a natural desire, and at the time it can seem like the most important thing in the world. But ask yourself: is winning an argument really the point?
In pursuit of winning an argument, you might go on the attack by saying your partner is always wrong or never cares about you. But doing this corners your partner and can jeopardize the relationship.
You might win the argument right now, but in long run, your relationship will suffer.
Offense is Not the Best Defense
Lastly, in conflict resolution, we tend to get defensive about our wrongdoing and go on the offensive. This further harms the possibility of resolving the argument – and worsens our mood and attitude towards each other.
Remember, conflict is a part of all relationships. But it’s how couples handle conflict that determines if they are happy, healthy, and connected.
Rooting for you!