Construction Worker TripletsIt’s pretty obvious that the way you talk to your partner has a huge impact on the quality of your relationship.

But did you know that the way you speak about your partner can also damage or support the health of your relationship?

Consider these common statements:

My wife would never let me use my vacation days on a guy’s trip.

My husband wouldn’t allow me to wear something like that in public.

Each contains the implication that the speaker is not in control of his or her own choices and behavior. And that’s simply not true.

Speaking about your partner using this language puts you in a subservient, disempowered position, which is fertile breeding ground for rage, resentment, and hostility — toxic emotions that seriously threaten the health and stability of your partnership.

For contrast, see how these feel:

My wife would really like to take a family trip later this year, and I’ve decided to save my vacation time for that.

My husband would feel embarrased if I wore something like that in public, so I chose this dress instead.

This is much more in alignment with the truth. Your partner likely has preferences, and you are free to consider or disregard those preferences while deciding your course of action.

True, there might be some potentially unpleasant reactions from your partner that factor in to your decision — some people have a harder time than others coping with a partner’s disapproval or disappointment.

But even if you decide not to go on that guys’ trip or wear that dress based on your partner’s preference, it’s still your choice to make. And using language that takes full responsibility for your decisions fosters strong, healthy relationships.