The Four-Letter Word You Aren’t Saying Often Enough

My clients know that I don’t shy away from using four-letter words. But there is a valuable four letter word you probably aren’t saying often enough. Instead, you might use other four-letter words that take you back into one of your predictable Groundhog Day fights.

This four-letter word takes the conversation in a completely different direction. It opens up an avenue for repair and reconnection. It promotes de-escalation and reminds you both to breathe, calm down and notice that “we’re doing it again.”

This powerful four letter word is…Ouch.

Ouch says hey, I let you in. You don’t need a road map to my sore spot. You got me with that one.

Ouch doesn’t blame, fight back or give tit for tat.

Ouch just says…that hurt. Ouch is vulnerable. Ouch is open. Ouch invites de-escalation and repair.

There’s an old song by the Mills Brothers that gets at this idea:

You always hurt the one you love
The one you shouldn’t hurt at all
You always take the sweetest rose
And crush it till the petals fall

You always break the kindest heart
With a hasty word you can’t recall, so
If I broke your heart last night
It’s because I love you most of all

You always hurt the one you love
The one you shouldn’t hurt at all
You always take the sweetest rose
And crush it till the petals fall

So they next time your partner cuts you with criticism. Let them hear a four letter word. But not one of the ones you usually hurl at them.

Try ouch! instead. They might actually feel a bit sheepish about it and make a repair attempt. 

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I enjoy writing them. I’ll be taking a break from posting until September 21. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and thanks for all the positive feedback.

 

 

About the Author Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires...) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.

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