Photo by Lauren Peng on Unsplash
Have you ever wondered why certain words affect us differently? A recent study from the journal of Psychology and Aging found that certain words trigger either a positive or negative reaction in couples. More specifically, the Associated Press reported that inclusive pronouns such as “we,” “our,” and “us” are indicative of marital satisfaction. This study affirms my experiences in my practice where couples can elicit negative emotions by the words they use. It’s amazing the defensiveness and justification that follows from using the word “you.” The study mentioned above also found that couples were both physiologically and emotionally calmer when they used the “we” language. Another way couples can improve communication is by using the word “and” instead of “but.” Couples who frequently use “but” to qualify a compliment have more problems, since that word negates and discounts anything affirming or positive that was shared. “You’re absolutely correct, but,” or “I really appreciate what you’ve done, but,” are ways this word nullifies the first part of the sentence. Couples in my practice expend an inordinate amount of time and energy on blame and justification. A crucial element of couples therapy is for both parties to accept responsibility for the problems in the marriage and focus on changing themselves. The best way to change someone else is by changing yourself. Be aware of the words you use when communicating and take control of only you; life will be better.