This One Word Can Destroy Your Marriage
We live in a world of words. Whether written or spoken, language has the power to inspire, console, and teach. It also has the power to destroy, and some words have a more devastating impact than others. There is one word, in particular, that has the power to inflict harm on a relationship, although many will not recognize the impacts it can have. This word is "but" and it is filled with negative connotations.
Years ago, when my then-boyfriend husband and I were in counseling, we had a lot of discussions about hearing rather than listening. There is a big difference, and what we learned was that listening can be hard and it is not enough. Oftentimes, it is the words that are being spoken that have the power to hurt even when nothing negative is being said.
And so, we learned the power of “but”. You see, using the word but in the middle of a sentence will negate everything that came before it. Here are some examples:
"I love you but you are (insert complaint here)" is the same as just listing the complaint.
"I love my body but wish I didn't have stretch marks,” is just listing an insecurity.
"I was going to do it, but (insert reason here)" just offers up an excuse and would never fly in the workplace, so it shouldn't fly at home.
In short, there is no room for buts in love.
Of course, no one uses this word on purpose. But is such a common word and is used in so many sentences that it is almost impossible to avoid, especially during a difficult conversation about the changes we wish to see in others or ourselves. It does have its place in the English language and has less of an impact on innocuous sentences, (but) it is counterproductive to serious conversations and has the power to render important discussions useless or make them worse.
So how can you remove this toxic word from your vocabulary? Turns out, you probably can't, which is just fine. Even now, six years after learning about this little word's consequences, I have a hard time not using it. The key is to be aware of it and to make a conscious effort to strip it from your important conversations when you can. If you are like my husband and me, you will replace it with an exaggerated however, alas, or although, but if you are lucky it will make you laugh and actually help facilitate the conversation. The point is, as with any endeavor within a relationship, to try.
But that's just my opinion.