Relationship Advice: Words Can Hurt or Heal

"Stick and stones, may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

Remember that little rhyme from childhood?

It's wrong.

And more than that, it's a lie. Words are very powerful. Words can hurt or heal, build up or tear down, comfort or curse.

According to Mike Gordon, pastor at CenterPoint Church in Ocala, Fla., very few of us are prone to slice and dice our partner with our words.

At the same time, most of us are guilty of making little cuts, or "nicking" those we love with our words.

Have you nicked your partner lately?

And no, I do not mean shaving. I mean nicking with your words. The little cuts and jabs, the sarcasm and put-downs we sometimes carelessly throw out there.

It took me just about the entire first year of marriage to figure out that what some of my friends found hilarious, my wife did not find at all amusing at best, and cut and hurt her at worst.

Other folks excuse "nicking" as just being brutally honest. In my experience, most of the folks who brag about being brutally honest enjoy the brutality more than the honesty.

John Powell said, "The genius of communication is the ability to be both totally honest and totally kind at the same time."

The power of the tongue

Our tongue, and the words that come from it, has incredible power. Words have the power to hurt or to heal, to tear down or build up, and to curse or comfort.

How have you been using your words with the one you say you love? If you realize you have been doing some nicking up until now, here are two things you can do:

1) Make a commitment to use your words to comfort not curse, heal not hurt, build up not tear down

2) Go to your love and apologize for nicking in the past and let the one you love know you intend to change this bad habit. The words could be something like:

"I realize I have nicked you and hurt you with my words, and I apologize and hope you can forgive me. I'm also making a commitment to you to control my tongue in the future."

A word of warning as you apologize. I know of one gentlemen who apologized by saying "I need to tell you I am sorry for nicking you." Well, somehow what she heard was "I want to apologize for Nicky."

You can imagine how the conversation took an unexpected detour from there.

The above example, and the one below, demonstrate just how very much the words we choose to use matter to those we love.

Different words, different result

A country boy fell head over heels for a little girl who lived down the lane. The problem was, every time he got around her, his knees shook and he stammered when he tried to speak. He just had no clue about how to talk to this girl.

So one day he went to town and followed a city boy who was known for being good with the ladies, trying to pick up some tips. The country boy listened as the city boy looked deep into the eyes of his girlfriend and said "Your beauty could make time stand still."

"That's it!" he said, and rushed back to the country and found his girl. Taking her by the hand under the apple tree, he looked deep into her eyes and said, "Your face could stop a clock."

Same content. Different words. Very different result.

Remember, you have a choice, hurt or heal, tear down or build up, curse or comfort.

Which words would you like to use, and which words would you like to be used with you?

Jeff Herring is a Relationship Coach, Speaker, and Syndicated Relationship Columnist. Visit for more relationship tips and tools, a free internet newsletter and free e-programs to enrich your relationship

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