These Phrases Can Save Your Relationship

by Laken Howard

If you've ever been in a longterm relationship, you'll know that arguments happen, no matter how amazing things are 99 percent of the time. Tempers flare, wires get crossed, and next thing you know, you're both struggling to remember why you're even with this person in the first place. Fortunately, there are words that will save your relationship when the going gets tough.

It's an open secret that communication is key to a healthy, thriving, successful relationship. The ability to calmly and clearly express your feelings — even when you're sad or angry — will separate the happy couples from the unhappy. While good communication skills come naturally to some, for others, it's easier to bottle things up. Ultimately, though, harboring negative feelings without addressing them will eventually lead to an explosion, as well as create a nasty undercurrent of resentment throughout the entire relationship. That's why it's so important to have a list of simple phrases in your arsenal that, when used sincerely and often, will make your relationship a much happier, more honest one.

If you're working on your communication and are ready to swallow your pride in order to improve your relationship, use these five words and phrases to express your love to your partner.

1. "But"

Talk about a dark horse: This one tiny conjunction can apparently make all the difference in relationships. In a series of experiments, psychologists Sandra Murray and John Holmes aimed to separate happy, successful couples from unhappy, unsuccessful couples. They found that, when discussing their partner's faults, those in successful relationships tended to always qualify their partner's negative traits, putting a positive spin on it.

For example: "Her husband was lazy, but that gave the two of them reason to laugh." Dr. John Gottman, a professor emeritus at University of Washington, backed this idea up, saying that it's imperative to remember our partner's virtues while considering their vices.

2. "I'm Sorry"

This should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately many people in LTRs forget the impact that saying "I'm sorry" can have on your partner post-argument. When a conflict feels resolved — both people have spoken their piece and tempers have been calmed — it might be easier to just give your partner a kiss and move on with your day. But taking the time to sincerely apologize for any hurt feelings or miscommunications will express to your partner that you're willing and able to be humble, and take responsibility for any conflicts that might arise in the future. If that's not reason enough to follow Justin Bieber's lead and say "Sorry," a 2013 study by professors at Harvard Business School and UPenn also found that superfluous apologies can increase trust and demonstrate empathy.

3. "Thank You"

Something as simple as saying "thanks" to your S.O. apparently goes a long way: In a survey of 468 married individuals conducted by the University of Georgia, researchers found that spousal gratitude was a significant predictor of marital success. Expressing appreciation for your partner is a way to counteract the negative effects of conflict, and feeling valued has a huge impact on how you view your marriage as a whole. So next time your partner does the dishes, make sure to say "thank you."

4. "I Was Wrong"

There's nothing worse than dating someone who's so stubborn that he or she refuses to admit when they're wrong. The key to healthy communication is a willingness to look at things from your partner's perspective, not just your own. An aversion to accepting the blame from time to time probably means you aren't ready for a relationship, because you'll never be able to truly resolve issues if you walk around with the attitude that everything is your partner's fault. Learning to accept that we all mess up sometimes is hugely important for your personal growth, and getting comfortable telling your S.O. "I was wrong" will make your relationship a lot smoother.

5. "I Love You"

While there are plenty of little ways to say "I love you" without using those three words, it's still important to tell your partner — sincerely — how much you love them, especially if you're stuck in a comfortable (and perhaps boring) routine. It's one thing to give a half-hearted "love ya" every time you hang up the phone, but it's another thing entirely to look your S.O. in the eyes and simply say, "I really love you." Of course, showing your love is also crucial, but don't forget how much of an impact saying those three little words can have in a relationship.

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