what not to say to your wife

What Not To Say to Your Wife During a Fight

When I was young, like most teenagers, I could be brash and blunt with little wisdom to guide my words. One particular night, I was out with a group of friends (guys and girls) when a female friend and I started to make fun of each other. The verbal jousting quickly got competitive, even heated. Finally, I said something regrettably cutting, hurtful, and humiliating towards her. What I said is unimportant, but immediately after saying it, I wanted to grab it all back. The worst part about it was that before I said it, I thought about it, calculated its impact, and even then, I still said it. I cared more about winning than I did about her at that moment. Thinking about her running out of the room crying still makes my stomach sink.

Words have a powerful impact, particularly in relationships. In marriage, the impact is even deeper because of the level of intimacy. Words are released at close range by the person in life whose opinion matters most. In the midst of a disagreement, we have the power with the words we choose to either escalate or disarm the situation. [Tweet This] Saying the wrong thing can be like pushing an escalation button. With that in mind, here’s what not to say to your wife during a fight.

“At least…”

This is normally an attempt to quickly move beyond the issue at hand with a superficial silver lining. It belittles something she feels is important, disregards her feelings, and ultimately, it lacks empathy. Anything that follows these two words will only serve to deepen the conflict and disconnection.

“I don’t care.”

If this one comes out in the heat of an argument, it can cause significant damage. It will end all communication for the night. These three words have actually started more conflict in our house than anything else I’ve said. She might want help with a decision or my opinion. I say, “I don’t care,” meaning, “I don’t have an opinion. I could go either way.” What she hears is, “I don’t want to do this with you. I don’t care about you.”

“You’re being ridiculous.”

She might be. She may be swept up in so much emotion and hurt that she is ignoring all reason and facts. However, she’s not going to be able to see it at this moment no matter how clearly you explain it, but especially if you say it this way. All it will do is throw gasoline on the crazy. It’s best to listen and acknowledge her feelings. Reason with her later when she has calmed down.

“I may have done that, but you…”

This is nothing more than a deflection from taking full responsibility and making amends. Throwing an accusation at her while she’s doing the same will only intensify the conversation because it shows our desire to win rather than reach a resolution. When we have done something wrong then we need to show leadership by owning it and apologizing. This disarms the fight.

“Other people wouldn’t react the way you are.”

Never compare your wife to anyone, particularly other women. It devalues her as a person and it will rub some significant insecurities lurking below the surface. And if you ever compare her to your mother, it was nice knowing you.

Sound Off

What are some things you have learned not to say during a conflict with someone?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • Trent

    Your friend wanted to do a verbal joust but when it got competitive she ran out crying when you tried to win? What a delicate snowflake. Tell her not to joust since in the context you presented it was joking around. Why would you care about her feelings in this conversation? When things get tough some women resort to “hurts my feelings” like this is an actual argument. Women like to tell men what to do, so I’m going to tell them to “toughen up.”

    • Jim Shipley

      Trent, you’re clearly not in love with anyone.

      • Trent

        Jim, you are clearly delusional.

        • Jim Shipley

          And bitter apparently, why? What happened? Are you in love with your spouse? Do you really feel the best thing to say during an argument that you’re having with someone you love is “toughen up!”? I feel sorry for you if this is true.

    • acspear

      You haven’t a clue as to what he said to her. It could have been something very personal.

      You also have no idea what the situation was. It is unwise to take a moment God used to bring humility and insight, and reduce it down to a personal judgement towards females.

      To call her overly sensitive is ignorant, as well as hypocritical. It would be prudent to keep personal and unbiblical opinions to yourself, and instead give them to God. He knows what to do with them.

      • Trent

        Who cares what he said The context he represented as joking which through a reasonable deduction was that she couldn’t take the joke. It didn’t go her way and she lost and then ran out of the room and cried. “Never go to battle with a Sicilian when death is on the line.” My opinions are mine and it isn’t up to you or anyone to attempt to silence them by disagreeing with me in a public forum. Some women want to be victims when they do not get their way and start whining about their “feelings” Being sensitive and trying to feminize men is not the answer in my opinion.

        • Paul_Sp

          I suppose it’s fair to consider her personality and what kind of approach works with her.
          I have two sons, and I discovered over time that they each needed a different approach when there was need to confront them or they were upset or whatever, when feelings could get hurt or emotions flare.
          I suppose this could apply to different wives too. So long as goals are respect, understanding, a desire to resolve, and not to hurt feelings (as much as possible) or “win”.

        • nathan

          obviously Trent only cares about winning [this online argument]. A word of wisdom; this indicates a lack of selflessness and won’t bode well for your relationships.

    • BJ_Foster

      The reason I cared for her feelings was because she was my friend. She was someone I cared about. Poking fun at one another is fine when the motivation is to laugh and be deeper friends. When people start getting hurt that’s when the trouble starts. Relationships aren’t about winning, they are about caring. Are there times when people are oversensitive? Yes. Are there times when people need to lighten up a bit? Agreed. But even in those moments there is a reason that they are oversensitive or overreacting. There’s opportunity to find out. It could have been a painful wound that they were reminded of. If we care about them as a friend then we’d want to find out rather than just say “toughen up”. What they’ll end up doing is actually hardening their heart towards you. They probably don’t need to toughen up, they need healing.

      In this particular case though, my friend was anything but delicate. She was a person with very thick skin and what I said was very personal and publicly humiliating. It would have sent most people out of the room with any sense of shame. I deeply regret it and am grateful she forgave me.

      • Brian McConnell

        I like your comments here, BJ. I often think that people have lost the ability and/or desire to be civil and kind to one another. 🙁

    • Paul_Sp

      Haha, let us know how well that works, Trent!

  • JC Cincy

    I thought it was going to say “anything” LOL…

  • Thomas Stone (Tomm)

    My wife just doesn’t talk to me for 24hours unless it’s important when we have a mishap. We have never argued but we are both not the argument type. We don’t talk for 24 hour and the we talk for upto 5 hours and we are calm and understanding. I think in our relationship at least the time not talking clears our heads enough to be rational. Besides after 24 hours we both miss each other so much we can’t bear to rusk not talking anymore.

  • Don Pinaud

    I would add also to avoid completely using the words “never” and “always.” When people get upset they tend to over generalize and say things like “you never help out with cleaning” or “I am always the one who washes the dishes.” Unless that’s really the truth – unless it’s really the truth that your spouse not once ever helped with cleaning, or it’s really the truth that you 100% of the time wash the dishes – don’t use these words of exaggeration. They will make your spouse feel that they are unappreciated or that you don’t even notice the truth of the matter. And during a fight, you lose credibility, and provoke anger more, for saying something not true. Maybe you do the dishes almost all the time. But that time two weeks ago when you were tired and your spouse did them – that mattered to the spouse who did them. When you say that you “always” do the dishes, you communicate that it didn’t matter the time your spouse helped out and did them. Just some thoughts….two words best avoided. And this goes with your kids too. No one wants to feel that you don’t notice or appreciate what they do, even if they honestly could do more.

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Huddle up with your wife and ask, “Is there anything you wished I wouldn’t do or say during conflict?”

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