“Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life. Without it… it dies.” – Tony Gaskin
This is one of the top causes of failed relationships according to Dr. John Gottman, a world-renowned psychologist known for his work on the stability of marriages and the possibility of divorce.
In other words, talking openly and respectfully with your partner goes a long way.
And if you use these 13 phrases every day, your relationship has a greater likelihood of being more successful than most:
1) “I like you”
When you say these three words to your partner daily, you reassure them they remain likable, each and every day.
You are telling them that they are enough as they are, and you like them that way.
You could also say, “I like that you…”, or “I like how you…” which similarly gives them the affirmation that you support their interests and admire their characteristics.
Reminding your partner of how much you like them boosts not only their self-esteem, but also the positive atmosphere in your relationship.
2) “I appreciate you”
They may sound similar, but “I like you” and “I appreciate you” often convey different sentiments.
Let’s look at both phrases in action to see the difference:
“I like how you kiss my forehead every morning and I appreciate you getting up early to make us breakfast”.
We’ve already established that liking them focuses on their personality and characteristics.
But when you say you appreciate them, the focus is more on their actions and their effort.
3) “Thank you”
Yes, it’s no different to saying “I appreciate you,” but this phrase deserves a spot on the list to highlight the need to thank our partners daily.
Think about it:
What everyday things does your partner do for you that has become so routine you no longer thank them for it?
Our relationship is nowhere near perfect, but I love how my husband still says, “Thank you,” whenever I prepare the meals. They’re only two words, but they make such a big difference and instantly uplift the mood around the dinner table.
And that’s not the best part:
I’ve since taken on this habit from him, and so have the kids – kicking off our meal times on such a positive note.
Having said that, let’s get you reflecting:
Are there any routine things your partner does that you could start thanking them for again?
4) “What would you like?”
Taking turns asking each other what the other likes creates balance and promotes equality in your relationship.
The beauty of this phrase is that it applies to both the big and small decisions in your life:
Ask each other what the other prefers for dinner, what movie they’d like to watch, or where they’d like to go on the weekend.
In the same manner, give each other a chance to voice out their preferences regarding where to invest your joint savings or how you will celebrate your next big anniversary.
Relationships are, after all, about taking turns at the wheel, asking what the other thinks, and figuring things out together.
5) “Do you want me to help?”
It’s important to want to help our partners, but it’s equally important to ask them first whether or not they want us to help.
Doing this shows our respect for their autonomy while still remaining supportive.
Let’s look at this scenario, for example:
You see your partner scratching his head while assembling an Ikea cabinet. Instead of grabbing the Allen wrenches straight away, you ask:
“Do you need help or would you prefer figuring it out yourself?”
When you frame your question like this, you’re showing that you respect their ability to accomplish the task on their own, yet your offer is there should they need it.
6) “How can I support you?”
Let’s face it:
As much as we are willing to help, there are some things that we can’t really help our partners with. Like work-related issues outside our areas of expertise, for example.
But that doesn’t mean there’s absolutely nothing we can do. There is – and the best way to find out what that might be is to ask your partner.
It could be as simple as a cup of coffee or they may ask you if you don’t mind staying up late with them until they figure it out.
When you ask your beau how you can support them, it’s a great gesture of acknowledging your limitations while still offering emotional support.
7) “I am listening”
Every relationship will encounter disagreements, and yours is definitely not an exception.
But how do you escape a breakdown caused by arguments?
The secret is active listening.
And it also helps that you vocalize this to your partner.
When you tell them, “I’m listening,” it’s like formally passing the microphone to them and putting yourself on mute, giving them a chance to speak out and get their point across.
8) “What do you mean?”
Sometimes, no matter how intently we listen, there are things said by our partners that remain vague.
To avoid further conflict caused by misunderstanding, the best way to go around this is to clarify what your partner meant.
You could also rephrase what you got out of what they said and clarify if your understanding was correct.
However you phrase it, ensure that it’s delivered in a clarifying manner, as opposed to insisting on what you think they meant.
9) “Please help me understand why…”
Sometimes, we may have understood what they said, but we struggle to comprehend why they said what they said or the reactions that ensue.
Hence, this phrase could end with:
- “…you said that”
- “…you did that”
- “…you feel that way”
When you make these clarifications, you are not only helping yourself understand your partner and the situation better, but you’re also helping them feel validated.
10) “I’m sorry”
Of course, a list of phrases used in successful relationships won’t be complete without these two strong words.
Have you ever been in a huge fight with the love of your life where you felt so angry that punching them in the face seemed like the best way to deal with it?
Yet the moment they uttered these two words, you instantly calmed down, and instead of an uppercut, you end up giving them a tight hug?
That, right there, shows the true power of an apology.
11) “It’s okay”
You won’t always be the one apologizing, so it’s also crucial to pick the right words when you’re at the receiving end of an apology.
Responding with “it’s okay” is a sign that you’ve heard and accepted your partner’s apology.
It’s another powerful two-word phrase:
It reassures your partner that what they’ve said or done doesn’t permanently damage your relationship.
That’s not to say that an apology is enough to resolve everything, especially if your partner’s offense was major.
But giving and accepting an apology are certainly the proper steps toward reconciliation.
12) “Let’s try again”
After all is said and done, saying this to each other is a testament to your commitment to the bond you’ve built and a strong desire to make what you have work.
But let’s break it down further:
- “Let’s (let us)” – US is the operative word, emphasizing teamwork and that you’re in this as a team.
- “Try again” – this suggests that you acknowledge that your relationship may have hit a roadblock, but that you also understand it doesn’t mean you can’t re-attempt the drive using a different route.
This phrase may sound so common, but in terms of relationships, it holds a deeper meaning:
It’s proof of you and your partner’s dedication to understanding, growth, working together, and resilience.
13) “I love you”
Let’s end this list with the three magical words:
I. LOVE. YOU.
They say it loses meaning when said frequently, but I beg to disagree.
The way I see it, saying “I love you” every day is the best way to emphasize the consistency of this intense feeling.
This phrase is more than just a combination of three random words:
It’s a reflection of genuine emotions that, when uttered daily, creates a constant reassurance of your unending love.
So simple, yet so important
All these phrases, when taken on their own, seem simple.
But in the context of relationships, making them part of your daily vocabulary may well be the secret ingredient to a long-lasting and successful relationship.
“A little communication goes such a long way.
If you’re busy, say it. If you’re upset, express it. If you’re running late, let people know. If you don’t want to do something, be straightforward. If you’re unsure, ask.
It’s so simple but so important.” – Anonymous