Few things bring out the worst in us more than fighting with a partner. "It activates the most primal part of our brain and causes us to say irrational and destructive things," explains Paul Hokemeyer, JD, PhD, a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York. "These are things that are easy to vomit out, but difficult and sometimes impossible to clean up."
We argue in the first place because we feel threatened, says Hokemeyer.
"Some part of our existence senses danger," he says. "It could be danger to our self-esteem, our physical and emotional safety or our economic security. Certainly there's no shortage of things to argue about. The point is to bring these issues of safety to the fore and resolve them in a constructive way."
That said, here's what NOT to say when you're having it out with someone you (usually) love.
1. "You suck at/you never can/you're such a ... [fill in the blank]."
Belittling your partner will get you absolutely nowhere, Hokemeyer says. While that may seem obvious, we're all guilty of blurting out one (or more) of these phrases in the heat of anger.
2. "I'm going to leave you."
Threatening the future of your LTR may feel good in the moment, Hokemeyer acknowledges, but that moment will quickly pass. "Two seconds of pleasure is not worth the long-term damage these comments inflict," he warns.
3. ANYTHING YOU YELL.
Communication style matters -- a lot. Destructive behavior like raising your voice -- or taking the passive-aggressive tack and walking out -- actually endangers your LTR more than if you stayed chill and magnanimously fought it out.
More from CafeMom: 30 Ridiculous Things All Couples Fight About
4. "This is just like what happened last year, when you…"
"Things you shouldn't say in arguments come from the place where you feel victimized and accuse the other of being a sadistic persecutor," says Jeanette Raymond, PhD, a licensed psychologist in Los Angeles.
Whatever you dredge up from the past will have since taken on massive proportions, she says, since it wasn't dealt with at the time.
5. Anything that starts with "you."
Short reason: It will come off as accusatory. Consider this example from Raymond: "You only think of yourself! You always want your own way! You always blame me for everything!" Ouch.
6. "This isn't over until we can agree."
Sounds good on paper, but you may be having one hell of an argument, if that's your take. According to the Gottman Institute, which specializes in relationship research, 69 percent of all problems that couples have are unsolvable. Fight, threaten, make any ultimatum you want ... and you may still not get anywhere.
So, what should you say in an argument? Especially when your emotions are running hot and there's a s***load at stake?
Listen. Stay calm. Be kind. These are all constructive fighting behaviors that actually lead to improvements in your relationship. Humor helps too, so long as, you know, it's funny, and not a mean joke at the other's expense.
Then -- and this is important -- phrase everything from your POV, says Raymond.
For instance, "I feel hurt when you hear my pleas for help around the house as me ordering you around." Or "I feel like you don't love me when you play Clash of Clans on your phone and I'm trying to talk to you."
Every couple argues, and it's okay -- as long as you realize that even when you and your partner are taking sides, ultimately, you're on the same team.