To improve your communication with your spouse, eliminate the word ”again” when you speak. More often than not, this word creates an automatic argument and fuels old anger and old debates.
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• When you say, “Here we go again,” your spouse realizes that you are going to bring up old business that guarantees a confrontation.
• If you use the expression, “Once again I will remind you,” your spouse knows she forgot to do something and a lecture is on the way from you.
• If you start the morning off by saying, “You snored all night again,” or “You forgot to turn off the outside lights again,” a verbal fight is in the making, especially if you say the word “again” loudly, with your arms folded in front of you.
• The phrase “over and over, again and again I keep telling you,” makes your spouse prepare for battle. The spouse realizes you want to fight the same verbal fight you had last Thursday and last Monday. The spouse also wants to get in the last word. A spouse who proclaims, “Never again will I ask you to do something important” is telling you that you can’t be counted on; and you should feel guilty.
• The word “again” is used most often by someone who is in a “controlling parent” mood, and the reaction is usually an “angry child” one.
• The spouse who says, “There is no need to discuss this matter again,” really means, “I am not about to change my mind, and you didn’t make any sense the last time you talked.”
• Do not add the word “again” to the following statements:
– I saw you dancing close to Alice ______________!
– Don ‘t worry. I closed the garage door for you __________________!
– Guess what? I heard from the bill collector __________________.
– You expect me to believe that B.S. story __________________?
– My mother reminded me that I should have married your brother ___________________.
– Are we going to have meat loaf for dinner ____________?
• If you say, “Never again will I ask you to do me a favor,” it really means your spouse believes you are self-centered and only thinking of your needs. The goal is to make you feel guilty. She or he doesn’t mean never. You are being told that next time he/she asks a favor from you, you’d better come through … or else!
• “Again” is a touchy word at work, too. If your boss says, “I noticed you were last in sales again,” you may be in trouble.
• Right after the boss says “Again, Bob, I noticed you were late for our staff meeting. You’d better be early for the next meeting …”
• A cheerful-sounding boss may say, “Bob, I noticed you won the ‘most coffee breaks award’ again,” but he really doesn’t think it’s funny.
• A co-worker who says, “I covered your butt again” when you were late for work, means, “You need to take me to lunch and change your ways.”
• Even your spiritual leader gets obsessed sometimes with the word “again.” When he says, “Please, not the same confession again,” or “Again I remind you that the Lord did not mean obey eight of the 10 Commandments,” he is not thrilled with your spiritual performance.
• Be alert to the word “again.” It is a warning word that tells you to be prepared for a confrontation. Nobody enjoys a lecture, and no one listens after the first two minutes of a lecture. Drop the word!
Bob Billingsley is a columnist at the Mountain Democrat. His column appears bi-weekly.