Being married means having someone you can trust and confide in—even if it’s someone else's darkest secret, right? Just because you're married doesn't mean you can throw away the filter between your brain and your mouth if it can do someone else a great deal of harm. Even in the most open, honest relationships there are some things you should consider keeping to yourself. Here are eight prime examples:
1. "Susie made me promise not to tell but…" The risk here is that your husband may forget the "don't tell anybody" part and mention it next time he sees Susie. Some people automatically exempt spouses from the "don't tell anybody" rule, figuring that it's bound to come up during pillow talk. However, if you've been sworn to secrecy, and if it's something that doesn't affect your husband or your relationship, and if you don't want him to accidentally repeat it, don't burden him with the information.
2. "That bald spot of yours is getting bigger." Don't point out things he can't do anything about. However, there are things that he can do something about—such as replacing his too tight cargo shorts with a new pair—so let him know in a kind, gentle way. Perhaps bring home a new pair of shorts and tell him they were on sale!
3. "Thanks for watching the kids. Now here’s a detailed list of dos and don'ts for you to follow while I’m gone." Sometimes you just have to trust that your husband and the father of your children will make some good decisions when taking the kids off of your hands for the afternoon so you can have some free time. Remember the old adage, "Don't kick a gift horse in the mouth".
4. "When are you ever going to [insert chore here]?" Yes, it's frustrating when your husband doesn't do what you consider to be his fair share. But nagging is like a slow poison in a relationship; it's not fun for the nagger and belittles and undermines the nag-gee. Find a way to avoid it in your own relationship. One couple I spoke with found that when the wife rattled off a to do list for her husband, he would initially agree, then forget or put the tasks off indefinitely. When she simply wrote the tasks down on a piece of paper and handed him a list, he actually tackled the chores without her having to say a word. Find what works for you; even if money is tight, maybe you can pay someone to help with the cleaning, yard work, etc. It might be worth it if it brings peace to your marriage.
5. "That's what you're making for dinner?" If it's his turn to cook the family meal, offer menu suggestions but don't criticize his technique, his apron or even his clean up skills. The correct response is, "Thank you for cooking!" With a little encouragement he may even branch out and surprise you with a dish he picks out especially for you.
6. "You know I hate roses!" Yes, I actually heard these words come out of a friend's mouth. If your husband brings you flowers of any kind, celebrate the gesture and thank him profusely. To do otherwise is to greatly reduce the probability of him ever "offending" you with flowers again. You can always drop hints later—much later—about hydrangeas being your favorite flower.
7. "I fantasize about Ryan Reynolds (or your hubs best friend, insert name here)." Overly enthusiastic appreciation of someone of the opposite sex is probably not the ultimate aphrodisiac for him. It’s best to save the swooning over a glass of wine with your girlfriends.
8. Anything that doesn't pass the boomerang test. If you're not sure if you should say it or not, put it to this simple test: How would you feel if the words were redirected at you? If it doesn't make you feel good, it will probably illicit the same feelings from him.
Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.