“I don’t need your help.” This didn’t seem like a hurtful statement in the moment. However, had I just stopped to think about it, I would’ve realized that my wife had been offering for days to help me in a way she was particularly gifted—organizing my office. We both knew I needed the help, but I didn’t want to bother her with it. So instead of taking her offer, I dryly dismissed it. She was hurt, and I was confused.
Careless words can be just as destructive as intentionally hurtful ones. Often we say them without thinking or at least without considering how they might be heard. But the pain they cause can be acute. Here are 5 things every husband needs to stop saying to his wife right now.
1. I told you so.
Of course this is commonly highlighted as one of the things not to say to your wife and yet most of us continue to anyway. This is largely because our egos get in the way of our intellect. We want so badly to prove our intelligence and competence that we just have to point out to our wives every time we’ve got the right answer.
The problem is this creates a “you versus me” instead of “you and me” mentality. It pits your wife and you against each other rather than acknowledging you’re working together toward a shared goal. If you need a competition, why not compete to see who most often can point out the other person’s successes? If that’s the game you’re playing, no matter who wins, you both do.Rather than playing the game of fault-finding, recognize you’re on the same team!
2. It’s not my fault.
Nothing drives me as crazy as hearing athletes shift blame after a loss. Most of us know the sign of a mature—and likely more successful—athlete. He or she takes the blame, even if it wasn’t directly his or her fault. Why? Because we all have something we need to improve on and everyone wins when we all work on ourselves.
The same is true for your marriage. It does little good to make sure your wife knows who is in the wrong but a whole lot of good to look for solutions that serve everyone. Rather than playing the game of fault-finding, recognize you’re on the same team! Always start with where you can improve instead of pointing to your wife’s faults.
3. I don’t have time.
The reason this is one of things to not say to your wife is because it’s never true. You may feel like you don’t have time, but the reality is, we all have the same amount of time. We just prioritize tasks differently. So in truth, what you are saying is that “it’s not a priority for me.”
To say you don’t have the time is passive. It puts the blame on something other than yourself and makes it so you don’t have to take ownership. The reality is that only you have control over your schedule. And you have a finite number of moments. You must prioritize, but you also have all the time you need.
4. You are _____.
When you’re arguing with your wife, it’s easy to point out what she’s doing, how she’s acting, and your perceptions of her motivations. However, none of that is particularly helpful if you don’t first begin with “I am…” You don’t know for sure why your wife is doing what she’s doing. Nor do you know what she was feeling. However, you do know what you are feeling, thinking, and wanting.
Using “I am” statements instead of “you are” statements feels vulnerable. It’s putting yourself out there in a way that your wife can embrace or attack. But if you want a genuine relationship, there must be vulnerability. Lead with “I am” statements and let her tell you what she’s thinking.
5. The game is on.
Perhaps you’ve uttered these words on a Sunday afternoon when your wife asked if you had time to talk. This is easily one of the things never to say to your wife. I’m not suggesting sports don’t matter. This is All Pro Dad for crying out loud. We love sports!
But sometimes that conversation needs to happen right now. Sometimes she really needs you to be present. Five years from now, will you care if you saw the entirety of the second quarter? Probably not. But you’ll probably appreciate having a relationship in which your wife knows you prioritize her over a bunch of athletes you’ll never meet.
Sound off: What other things should you never say to your wife?
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “Is there anything I say regularly that you wish I’d stop saying?”