Love Essentially: 10 things to say guaranteed to start a fight

Love Essentially
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Jackie Pilossoph
For Sun-Times Media | @lovessentially
June 19 11:30 a.m.

Love Essentially is a relationship advice column for men and women covering a multitude of issues from first dates, sex, and falling in love to marriage, divorce and dating after divorce.

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No one enjoys fighting with their spouse; however, I don’t know one couple who from time to time doesn’t get on each other’s nerves, argue or even get into a down-and-out brawl that results in a couple days of the silent treatment.

Fighting isn’t fun, so if you want to avoid it, watch what you say.

Also, watch what you don’t say.

Saying the wrong thing could make the difference between a minor disagreement and a major battle! Here are 10 things to say to your spouse that are guaranteed to start a fight:

1. You’re being ridiculous. The person who just said what he or she said doesn’t think they are being ridiculous. So saying “You’re being ridiculous” comes across as hurtful and mean. The person will never respond by saying, “You know what, you’re right. I AM being ridiculous.” He or she will undoubtedly fire back, hence all you have done is fuel the fire.

2. I hate it when you … (anything that begins with these five words will trigger negative dialogue). Hate is a very strong word. Starting a sentence this way is negative. Try flipping it around and turning it into a positive. Instead of “I hate it when you leave your dirty laundry on the floor,” try “I would really appreciate if you’d put your dirty laundry in the hamper.” I know you’ve tried that 500 times. Keep trying. Nothing good comes from “I hate.”

3. Can we stop the drama? Someone’s problem should never be classified as “drama.” Consider the fact that the issue he or she is having is a really big deal to him or her, even though it might seem small to you.

4. Is there something you want to tell me? This question is extremely accusatory and almost offensive. “Is there something you want to tell me?” sounds like you are sure the person is guilty. Instead, try something like, “I’d really like to talk to you about something I’m uncomfortable with.”

5. You’re just like your mother. You can never win by bringing your spouse’s mother into a conversation, even in the slightest of negative ways. Despite the fact that your spouse might know you are right, he or she will still get upset. Your spouse’s mother is a very touchy subject. He or she is free to say whatever they’d like about their mother, even if it’s negative, but you are prohibited.

6. Stop acting like a 5-year-old. This is perhaps one of the most condescending things you can say to someone. It makes them feel small (no pun intended), embarrassed and ashamed. I find that saying this will only cause the person to react by acting MORE like a child.

7. I know you’re lying. No one likes to be called a liar because we all know that liars are the lowest of the low. If in your heart you think your spouse is lying, hold your tongue and couch it in a different way. Maybe try something like, “Please be honest with me. I will respect you and appreciate you so much if you tell me the truth.”

8. That was a stupid thing to say. Just as no one wants to be called a liar, no one wants to be called stupid. It’s so derogatory that you have zero chance of the person letting that one go. Instead of saying your spouse said something stupid, try, “Think about what you said. Is that really what you meant to say?”

9. I know you’re not happy. How do you know if your spouse is happy or unhappy? Are you a mind reader? Instead, ask them, “Are you happy? Please be honest.”

10. Is that what you’re wearing? Saying this to someone is the same thing as saying, “That is a hideous outfit. I think you should change.” But don’t say those things, either! Your best bet is either to say, “I really think you looked great in that sundress you wore the other night,” or don’t say anything and let your spouse wear whatever they’d like!