Relationships aren’t always easy. In fact, they’re probably one of the hardest (yet most rewarding) things about life. But one of the most common reasons that great relationships fail is down to one simple thing: communication — or, more accurately, the lack thereof. Communication is key to a healthy relationship, and while no article on the internet is ever going to teach you how to be an effective communicator (that happens through real-life social interactions), there are some tips that you can gather that can definitely put you on the right track to a happy and healthy relationship.
Here are 12 sentences that you will need to feel comfortable uttering at some point if you want to keep your relationship healthy.
1. “It’s my fault.”
A relationship can’t thrive if pride keeps getting in the way. This three-word sentence can help you move on from any difficult problems you may be facing with your partner. This doesn’t mean you should take the blame constantly just to keep the peace — you don’t need to cop to something you clearly didn’t do. However, if you have made a misstep, ‘fess up.
2. “I love you.”
You should say “I love you” every day to your partner — say it loud, say it proud, and say it often! The more you tell a person you love them, the more they believe you! (Of course, don’t use this as a tool of manipulation or coercion, and don’t think it smoothes over toxic behavior. You’ll have to do better than that!)
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4. “If it matters to you, then it matters to me.”
Let your partner know that you are on their side. If it’s an issue that you’ve never had to deal with before but they feel passionate about, then it should be as important to you as it is to them. Let them explain why it matters to them and try to empathize so you can be a better source of support for them.
5. “I’m sorry.”
And not the lazy, non-apology kind of sorry. Learning how to say “I’m sorry” and genuinely mean it is vital to a healthy relationship. Sometimes you’re going to get things wrong — it happens. You should never be so stubborn that you can’t admit that and apologize for it.
6. “I know I hurt you and I would never want to do that.”
When you’ve hurt your partner, you have to make them understand that hurting them was never the objective. By using this sentence, you help them understand that your intentions towards them are only good, and that if you ever hurt them, it was accidental and you’d never want to repeat it.
7. “I shouldn’t have said that.”
When we misspeak, we often get defensive and try to rationalize whatever it is that we’ve said. Instead, learn how to identify sentences/phrases that you said that are not appropriate/loving/supportive and call attention to the fact that they shouldn’t have been said in the first place.
Better yet, vow now to say them again in the future. Acknowledge the damage that misspeaking causes and aim to be more thoughtful in the future. Even knowing you’re aware of it will be a huge source of relief for your partner.
8. “I care if you’re [insert negative emotion here].”
If the person you love is sad, upset, mad, frustrated, then it’s important that they know that you care that they’re in this state of distress. You might think they’re overreacting (and maybe they are sometimes), but that’s not the point. In a healthy relationship, this sentence serves to show that you support your partner and have their back 100%.
9. “I respect what makes you happy or sad, even though I may not understand it myself.”
Don’t dismiss your partner’s feelings just because you don’t necessarily understand them. Dismissing feelings (or counting them as irrational) will make them shut down communication with you. And, as we all know, communication is key to a great relationship.
Saying this validates your partner’s feelings rather than dismissing or belittling them, and it shows that you’re okay with having a difference of opinion. No want ones to be in a relationship where their thoughts, feelings, and opinions are bulldozed by a partner.
10. “How are you?”
Sometimes, when we spend a lot of our time with a person, we forget to ask them the most basic of questions. How are you? How was your day? How was work? All of these can go a long way in strengthening your bond. While it’s a very simple question in essence, none of us hear it enough, especially from our partners.
11. “Can I help you?”
Not meant to be said in a shop assistant kind of way, but in a “What can I do to help you with XYZ?” kind of way. This can be in relation to simpler things like making dinner or cleaning the house, but it can also be applied to bigger, more important things, like stress with work, bereavement, or financial problems.
The point here is to make it clear that you’re willing to go the extra mile to make your partner’s life easier, less stressful, or slightly more joyful, and that’s a very meaningful gesture.
12. “I miss you.”
This one little sentence can make a person feel like the center of the universe. Make sure to let your partner know their absence is felt when you’re not together. While these words can be hard to come out with, especially if you’re more of a stoic type and don’t want to appear “weak” or “needy,” that’s not the case at all. In reality, you’re showing your partner how much you value their presence and notice their absence when they’re not around.
13. “Maybe you’re right.”
This is a great spin on the “OK, I’M WRONG. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR?” defensive position that you’ve probably come across a number of times (or even screamed yourself in a heated moment). The problem with placing blame is that someone has to lose. Shift the perspective and instead allow someone to win by using positive language.
This also shows that not only do you accept the fact that you’re not perfect (nobody is, FYI), but that you have enough humility and are able to swallow your pride enough to admit it.