Susie & Otto


5 Most Toxic Phrases (for couples and their relationships)

When it comes to relationships, if there's one issue that stands out as a major problem and one that can be changed with a little attitude adjustment, it's this...

The way you talk to each other.

It's not only the words you say, but it's the way you sa them and your intention behind those words that make all the difference in the world whether you create connection or disconnection with the other person.

The funny thing is that a lot of the way we talk to one another seems to be automatic and we don't really think about it--maybe until it's too late.

In times of stress, we find ourselves repeating words or phrases that were said to us by those we loved, even though those words didn't feel good when we heard them.

Susie remembers that even though she and her mom had a great relationship and there was lots of love between them, her mom was full of "shoulds" of how Susie needed to act in certain situations--and Susie wasn't always happy about acting in those ways.

Wouldn't you know that in Susie's first marriage, as well as this marriage with Otto, she carried the "shoulds" into them. Even if she wouldn't say anything, her attitude and demeanor said they needed to do something other than what they were doing. In other words, they were wrong and she was right.

The two of us found out that you can't build the alive, passionate relationship that lasts if it's built on "shoulds."

Susie had to become conscious of her thoughts and what she truly valued rather than what her mom valued and speak from that authentic place inside her. She also had to learn to honor and understand Otto's ways of being and not put him down for being different from her ways.

Now of course, you can come up with toxic phrases that can wreck your relationship without learning them from someone else.

The point is to become conscious of what you're saying to those you love and make sure that you're building connection instead of tearing the two of you apart.

Here are 5 toxic phrases for you to become aware of, even if they're just thoughts, and change them to more empowering ones that create more love...

Toxic Phrase #1: You should...

Even though you may not mean it this way, when you use this phrase, you imply that the other person isn't capable of living their life and making healthy decisions, especially to your satisfaction.

It's certainly implied that your loved one isn't good enough the way he or she is.

"Help me to understand how you're feeling (or what you're thinking)"

Then when you understand the situation or problem from your loved one's point of view, ask if he or she wants a suggestion.

We know that it's very easy to slip into the habit of "you should"-- (Susie still finds herself saying it) but it's also easy to stop when you remember how this can drive a wedge between you and others.

Toxic Phrase #2: You never... or You always...

When you use global phrases like "you never" or "you always," the other person usually does these two things...

Pulls away from you and automatically gets defensive.

Defensiveness can come out as aggression--coming back at you with anger or it can come out as withdrawal--either physically or emotionally withdrawing and sometimes both.

When you look deeply at the issues that spark the "you never..." and "you always..." comments, if you look hard enough, you'll find exceptions.

You'll find places where the other person acted in the opposite way that you're so globally accusing him or her of doing.

For instance, if you say something like this, "You never help with the kids," if you look at his or her actions outside of your irritation and finger-pointing, you'll see that there were instances of help given.

Instead of using this blaming phrase, make a powerful, specific request like--"I need some help with the kids. Would you be willing to do something like give them a bath on Tuesday evenings?"

Not difficult and invites a "yes" or "no" answer, as well as provides an opening to discuss what might work for both of you.

Toxic Phrase #3: It's all your fault...

It's just human nature to blame the other person when things go wrong. Even if you don't use those words, you can withdraw, close yourself up and not let the other person in for days or even years when you think that it's all his or her fault.

No matter how "enlightened" we are, for most of us, our initial reaction is to poke around until we find where the other person went wrong.

The problem with "It's all your fault" is that it never is. There's always something that we can see if we look that would not be considered the other person's fault.

When you think it's someone else's fault, even though you don't realize it, you're thinking, as the dictionary says, that it's a "weakness in character."

Not a way to keep the lines of communication open, right?

Take "fault" out of your vocabulary and look for solutions instead.

Toxic Phrase #4: It's all my fault...

Just as toxic to relationships as blaming someone else is to always blame yourself--no matter what happens.

It's maddening to see someone you love constantly becoming a victim and saying "I'm sorry"--but then nothing else happens after that.

When you (or anyone) use this phrase, it can be an underhanded way of escaping from looking for a solution and learning from whatever happened so that it isn't repeated.

If you or someone you love is consciously or unconsciously using this phrase when things go wrong, you can stop the action and say something like this...

"Instead of looking for fault, let's talk about how we can do this differently the next time so it's a win/win for both of us."

If you're a person who takes more than your share of responsibility for what you perceive is wrong, stop and ask yourself if this is bringing the two of you closer or is it taking you further apart.

You may be taking all the blame because you don't want to destroy the peace that you have in your relationship because if you actually say what's true for you, the other person will react maybe with upset or violence.

If this is the case with you, start finding ways--small ways-- for you to be truthful--and if you're in a potentially violent situation, don't stand for it, get out.

The point is that if you find that you're often using this phrase or your partner is, see the red flags that are warning you to make some changes in your relationship.

Toxic Phrase #5: I can't...

Of all the phrases we've mentioned, "I can't" can be the most defeating.

When you say "I can't," you're implying that you're giving up, defeated and you're at a dead end.

Here are some examples of what "I can't" might mean...

*I can't stand it when you...

*I can't take it any longer...

*I can't control you (or myself)...

The problem with "I can't" is that there's no opening for something better to happen. This phrase stops any positive suggestion or action.

Instead of "I can't," you can tell the other person how you're feeling using words like "frustrated" or "afraid"--and talk about what you want. Also listen to what the other person wants and see if anywhere in there is a match for the two of you to find a way to be together.

Remember you always have choice. And one of those choices is to use words that invite openness and cooperation instead of closing to one another.

You can make some big changes in your relationship if you pay attention to the words you use and your thoughts behind those words.

Our best to you,

©2010, Susie & Otto Collins

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Susie and Otto Collins are spiritual and life partners who are committed to helping others create outstanding relationships of all kinds. They regularly write, speak and conduct workshops and seminars on love, relationships and personal and spiritual growth to audiences all across the USA. They are the creators of the "Relationship Toolkit" which has helped people in over a dozen countries improve their relationships. It includes a video called Spiritual Partnerships plus two booklets Love and Relationship Success Secrets and 101 Relationship Quotes Worth a Million Dollars! You can also read more articles like these and subscribe to their weekly newsletter on love and relationships by visiting their web site at Their new E-book Should You Stay or Should You Go? has just been released and is now available See Archives 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001. Other Relationship Issues, Books

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