4 Simple Questions to Prevent WW3
In Buddhism, there’s a lot of talk about “right speech.” The idea is, our words carry immense power. They say the mouth is the most dangerous and benevolent organ of the body. Anyone who’s been in a relationship can attest to that. A simple sentence of love from our partner can absolutely melt our heart, while a word or two of anger from that same person can pierce us to our core.
That’s why it’s so important to be mindful of the way we speak to the people we’re most intimate with. But the problem is, as we become comfortable with our partner, we tend to say whatever’s on our mind without thinking… and that can lead to conflict. So the next time you’re about to open your mouth – whether it’s in the middle of a throw-down fight or just across the dinner table – ask yourself the following four questions before the words start rolling off your tongue. Because – as I’m sure you know – once it’s out there, it’s impossible to take it back.
First and foremost, just do a reality check. Are you certain that what you’re about to say is 100% true? If it isn’t, then there’s no reason to say it. Keep in mind, something that is true can be proven. “Honey, those cargo shorts are hideous” is not a fact. If what you want to say is your opinion, then state it as such. But then you need to ask yourself the second question…
One of the hardest things to do in a relationship is to fight about what’s happening now – not about what happened six months ago. A statement like, “I’ve been faking orgasms with you ever since we got married” may (sadly) be true and even useful (if your intention is to have more honest communication in your sex life) – but it may not be timely if you blurt it out in the middle of a huge argument about your husband losing his job.
Just because something is true doesn’t mean that it needs to be stated. Check your intention. Do you want to make this statement because you genuinely want to better your relationship (to be useful)… or are you saying it to be vindictive, pass judgment, or subtly jab at your partner?
Finally, once you feel comfortable that your statement passes the test on the other three questions, just stop for a moment. Look your partner in the eyes, try to remember why you love him or her, and choose your words with kindness. Of course, this can be incredibly difficult in the heat of the moment, so just break it down word-by-word. Adjectives and derogatory nouns which you would never consider “kind” are probably not the type of language you want to share with your loved one. Even when you need to say something painful – as we often do – there’s always a way to say it with genuine kindness.