Relationship Rules You Don't Have to Follow
These adages have been the foundation for countless successful wedding toasts—too bad they don't serve the happy couple as well. Here, some pearls of wisdom that have lost their shine.
Breakable Rule #1: Use "I" statements, not "you" statements, when talking about a complaint.
Sticking to emotion-focused "I" statements rather than accusatory "you" statements ("I feel upset" rather than "You make me so mad") has helped couples communicate more clearly and calmly for decades now. But there's a third option that may be even better, a 2009 study found: "we" statements, like "We need to find time" or "We should give it a shot." When longtime couples were discussing a sticking point in their relationship, those who used more "we" words (we, us, ours, and so on) acted more positively toward each other, showed fewer physical signs of stress, and were happier in their marriages overall. "You can use your language as an indicator of the current state of your relationship, like a gas gauge on your car," says Robert Levenson, a social psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who co-authored the study: Lots of "we" words and you're likely doing well enough to make it a long way; almost none and you may be running on fumes.