5. “Why can’t you just relax?”
If your partner is in a fight or flight response, they can’t “just relax” on command. If they’re stressed, something is bothering them. Otherwise, they would be relaxed.
There are a myriad of reasons why your partner might be upset, and even though you would naturally want them to be more relaxed, saying that curtly in the heat of the moment is unlikely to get the result you’re going for.
The best way to help them become more relaxed is to seek to understand. You must first understand something before you can go about changing it. Sometimes understanding is all that is needed.
When you are open, curious, and gentle about what is actually going on for your partner, that is a clarifying and helpful step. Once you are talking together in that kind of supportive atmosphere, you’re setting yourselves up for success.
6. “Are you breaking up with me?”
Using this question in everyday conflicts is an unnecessary and emotionally destructive threat.
As Eben Pagan & Annie Lalla said at Burning Man’s Camp Mystic in 2014, oftentimes people ask that question not to gain genuine clarity but to escalate the conversation by introducing the threatening possibility of break-up themselves.
if you actually want to break up right there, then you can say so and follow through with it. Otherwise, ask genuinely clarifying questions of the other person. If it feels too heated right then, take a step back, reevaluate as objectively as possible, and discuss the matter again once the atmosphere has calmed.
If you really are afraid your partner is breaking up with you, you can say simply, “Honey, I’m afraid. Let’s take a few minutes and come back once I’ve calmed down.” Once you’ve calmed down a bit, you can ask, “What are you feeling right now?” or, “What do you want?” or, “What do you want in our relationship?”
When you ask those questions in a non-threatening way, you give your partner space to think constructively about the answers. The one time, if ever, that your partner actually does want to break up, they will say so. Otherwise, asking these clarifying questions openly and gently strengthens the intimacy in your relationship.
7. “Are you sure you want to be with me?”
While it is important for the health of a relationship for each partner to praise and cherish the other, each partner is responsible for their own basic level of self-respect and self-confidence.
As relationship coach Jordan Gray says, expressing interest in your partner as a person and on a day-to-day level and affirming that you find them attractive is key to a satisfying relationship.
At the same time, Dr. David Scharch, author of Passionate Marriage,points out that it’s hard to be sexually attracted to someone you constantly have to prop up. If you need constant validation on a basic level, then before long, it will be difficult for your partner to admire or respect you.
The solution is to make sure that you would want to be with you, and that you already enjoy being yourself. When you feel great in your own skin, it’s much easier for you to have the clarity of mind to actually assess whether the person you’re with is a great match for you and genuinely appreciates you.