There’s a lot of things you should avoid saying to your partner if you’re trying to keep them around. There’s also one not-so-obvious word to try avoiding altogether: should. In a relationship, the word “should” is usually used when trying to convey how we want our partners to behave.
For example, when we say things like, “you should have taken the trash out” or “you should take another job” it ultimately comes across as one partner assuming they know more than the other.
- There’s some judgment involved with a ‘should’ statement. It compares what one partner would do — or would have done — differently.
- Should’ing” your partner demands them to think or act a certain way.
- Some experts even suggest it’s “a manipulative form of control and criticism.” Clinical director Brooke Sprowl says, “There is guilt and shame built into it, and when you are using guilt and shame to try to affect other people’s behavior, that can be really harmful.”
Here’s what to say instead: When explaining yourself to your partner, try to hit these four areas: here’s what happened and what I value; here’s how I feel; here’s what I need; and here’s my request to you.
- Going back to the trash example; Instead say, “I felt disappointed when I noticed the garbage had not been taken out. We agreed we would share the household responsibilities. I really need equal contribution and follow through. Would you be willing to commit to this?”
Keep in mind to avoid the three Cs when talking to our partner: being critical, controlling, or coercive. Sprowl explains, “We don’t get to tell people how they ‘should’ do something or what they ‘should’ be.”
Source:The Zoe Report