Hurtful Comments and the Impact on Relationships 

Arguing is normal between couples.  The important thing to remember about disagreements is to control your behavior during a conflict. Ask yourself about what sorts of behaviors you exhibit when you and your partner disagree and determine how this impacts the relationship. Talk to your partner and try to establish some ground rules about conflict. Discuss behaviors you have noticed from your partner that do not help the relationship as well.  There are some particular behaviors that damage the relationship instead of promoting positive conflict resolution.

Belittling your partner is not helpful. This occurs when one partner tries to discount the other partner’s feelings or needs and tries to make light of them. Comments such as, “your family’s conversations always revolve the same ridiculous stories that have no point,” devalue the other person’s family. Other comments might be about the other partner’s job such as “at least I have a real job and a real reason to be tired at the end of the day, unlike what you do.” Such comments are aimed at making the other person’s needs seem less significant. If you or your partner make belittling comments to one another, make the decision to stop doing so and try to value their needs.

Trying to make your partner feel guilty is not useful. This might include comments such as, “all I ask is that you do the cooking and the cleaning, but I come home and you’re just sitting on the couch while I’ve been making money all day.”  Such comments may try to make the other person feel less worthy and, again, it disregards their needs.

Threats are also not helpful. Threatening to leave or to get a divorce if the other person does not change is unlikely to resolve the current problem. Threats are usually offered as an ultimatum and in an attempt to control the other person’s behaviors.  Comments such as, “if you don’t start doing more around here, I’m going to have to leave because I can’t take it anymore.”  Threats such as these are often repeated frequently and lack much desire to improve the relationship.

Discounting the other person’s needs is not helpful either.  These sorts of comments often try to shame the other person and discount their needs. Comments might include something like, “well at least when we visit my friends we can hold an intelligent conversation, unlike when we have to spend time with your friends.” Comments such as this often try to show one partner’s needs are more important than the other person’s.

Examine the comments that you and your partner make to one another. If you are guilty of trying to make your partner feel bad, try to work on other ways to get your own needs met and better ways in which you can meet your partner’s needs. Seek counseling to help you learn how to resolve conflicts, if needed.

Leave a Reply