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The one word that can wipe out all the good in your relationship…

Have any guesses what the one word is that can wipe out the good?

We see this happen again and again. We’ll be sitting in a session with a couple. Partner A shares something from their heart, hoping that maybe, this time, their partner will really hear them. Maybe they even perk up for a moment as Partner B begins to respond.

Until…

This one word creeps in and changes everything, leaving Partner A deflated and disappointed, feeling unheard and unappreciated. Again.

This word can ruin an appreciation, turn an apology into a criticism, destroy an opportunity for connection, and wipe out all the celebratory energy in just one breath.

Wondering what it is?

It’s this one little sneaky word: “but.”

Below, we’ve given you some examples of some of the most common “but’s” (in no particular order) that we’re suggesting you clear from your vocabulary…

#1 – The Defensive But

“Yea, but you…”

The Defensive But has a hard time receiving feedback, gets defensive rather than open-minded, is critical rather than curious, and is stuck in their own head, rather than dropping into their partner’s heart and really hearing them with empathy.

Example:
“Yea, but you are always on your phone anyway (said in response to their partner wishing they were home more often).

What to Try Instead:
“It sounds like you’d enjoy some more quality time connecting. Life has been so busy recently, so I totally get that (empathy!). Thanks for wanting to see me more (appreciation!). What are some things you’d love to do more of together at home (curiosity!)?

#2 – The Victim But

“I would, but…”

The Victim But likes to make excuses, they tell you how they’ve already tried everything you suggest, and they blame things on other people or situations, rather than taking responsibility for creating the changes they seek and being truly willing and open to doing things differently.

Example:
“I would be nicer to you, but our kids exhaust me.”

What to Try Instead:
“It sounds like you’re wanting some more positive energy in our interactions. (Take a moment to acknowledge your partner and really hear them. Pause to get curious, rather than just rejecting the feedback.) I guess I have been exhausted and on edge recently and have probably been staying up later than is good for me (take responsibility). It’s probably time for me to recommit to my self-care practices (come up with a positive solution, rather than just blaming it on something or someone else).”

#3 – The Deflator But

“That’s great, but…”

The Deflator But doesn’t spend enough moments reveling in what’s good before jumping to the challenge or downside. They can definitely be a joy squasher!

Example:
“That’s great that you got a promotion, but our bills have gotten so high, we won’t even notice it.”

What to Try Instead:
“That’s great that you got a promotion! I know you’ve been working so hard and really wanted this. Congratulations, sweetheart. I’m so proud of you! What can we do to celebrate?” (Leave the bills for a whole different moment!)

#4 – The Appreciation Buster But

“I appreciate you doing that, but…”

The Appreciation Buster But needs a good reminder about letting the people around them feel successful, in choosing their timing better, and including WAY more positive appreciation than negative feedback.

Example:
“I appreciate you doing the dishes, but the floor is still filthy.”

What to Try Instead:
“Thanks so much for doing the dishes! It’s such a gift to walk in and see them all done!” (If possible, save the conversation about the floors for a different moment. If cleaning the floors has some time urgency, like company is soon arriving, try to get curious and ask what the plan is for the floors in a tone that is positive and in the spirit of togetherness.)

#5 -The Apology Buster But

“I’m sorry, but…”

The Apology Buster But likes to justify their actions by pointing out what the other person does imperfectly and likes to make sure their partner is well aware of their own faults, rather than just graciously apologizing with an open heart and owning whatever they did or didn’t do.

Example:
“I’m sorry I was in such a bad mood, but you know you can be really cranky too when you’re tired.”

What to Try Instead:
“I’m sorry I was in such a bad mood earlier. I bet that’s no fun to be around! I love and appreciate……… about you!” (Shift your tone and body language, and take a moment to express appreciation, one of the fastest pathways back into connection!)

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There you have it – some examples of how a “but” can really wreak havoc on creating connection and some things to try instead.

We think it’s time to get your “but’s” out of the way, so your hearts can open and connect, so tension can be melted, so pain can be healed, so you can open to new creative solutions and possibilities, so you can fully savor all the good, so you can take charge in creating the lives you really want, and so you can ensure that you don’t miss all of the opportunities life gives you to celebrate together.

You in?

And, of course, we aren’t fundamentalists about anything and fully believe there is a time and place for “but.” We simply want to lovingly encourage you to become a whole lot more mindful of just how damaging, diluting, and disconnecting it can be in many moments. And we think you’re amazing for doing so and are cheering you on always!

Want more individualized support in learning how to effectively communicate so you both feel seen, heard, understood, supported, and appreciated? Check out our counseling and coaching HERE. Or maybe you’d love to spend a bonding weekend FILLED with soooo many insights and specific tools to create huge breakthroughs in your relationship (all while having fun!) Be sure to check out our signature Thrive in Love retreat HERE!

Simply know we are here to help you create the relationship you’ve always wanted (but maybe just didn’t know how to create)!

We’re wishing you all the best in every possible way!

Infinite Love and Joy,

PS: Visit this page to learn more about our counseling/coaching, retreats, and online courses (available anywhere in the world). You can also schedule a free consultation to see if we’re a great fit for the support you are seeking.

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marriage counseling couples counseling eartheart institute center for thriving relationships Christine eartheart and Bret eartheart marriage engaged therapy pre-marital counseling couples therapy couples retreat couples workshop getaway reignite the spark affair divorce communication how to get him to listen partnership long-term love commitment husband wife marriage self care conflict retreat sex therapy conference convention phone skype video conference online counseling online therapy Bloomington Indiana IN Illinois IL chicago midwest fishers indianapolis martinsville Bedford spencer Ohio Michigan Carmel Naperville Kentucky Detroit Louisville KY OH MI Gottman gay Hendricks kate Hendricks Harville Hendrix sue johnson