Whether you've been married for a few years or are about to celebrate a decade of togetherness, you've probably already realized that marriage is not always sunshine and roses—it takes work. While you share a legal partnership, at the end of the day you're two individual people with your own wants, wishes, and desires. To help lessen the divide that this can create between the two of you, experts recommend using what's referred to as "we talk," or using more inclusive language such as "we, us, our" when talking about the relationship. "'We talk' implies that a couple is committed, as well as invested, in their relationship and making it work," says Venessa Marie Perry, founder and chief relationship strategist at Love (W)rite. "The more we use 'we talk' in a marriage, the better it becomes." Here, relationship experts explain how the strategy works.
It enhances team mentality.
"When we speak about situations or difficulties and use only a singular pronoun, such as 'I' or 'me,' it can feel very lonely, but simply saying 'we' instead can help you to feel supported and less alone in the situation," says Shelley Sommerfeldt, Psy.D., clinical psychologist who specializes in relationships. "This is especially helpful in relationships as this changes the situation from a couple facing a problem together as 'we' versus 'me' or 'you' have a problem alone. This team mentality, as she refers to it, can help to strengthen the marriage.
It eliminates the need to "keep score."
The concept of "keeping score," or focusing on where one partner has wronged the other and using it against them whenever necessary, can be sabotaging to a relationship, but "we talk" can help eliminate this problem. "By thinking of themselves as a team instead of two individuals, the need for each individual to protect themselves becomes unnecessary since they both have each other's backs," says Carissa Coulston, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist.
It creates shared viewpoints.
When you're focused on the things that you do together, you're more likely to come to an agreement on issues. This is particularly important when it comes to child-rearing, explains Coulston, but can apply to any situation where one can undermine the other either directly or by contradicting or not supporting their decisions.
It reduces conflict.
Even though it feels like you're on opposite teams during an argument, using "we talk" can lessen this, even defusing defensiveness and increase listening. "When couples are discussing a disagreement, it can be easy to get defensive or upset and not really listen to the other person, however, when we change our approach with the pronouns that we use, this can actually have an impact on how a message is received," says Dr. Sommerfeldt. "'We talk' changes the dynamic and reduces the likelihood that the other party feels blamed or as though there is a finger pointing at them."
It increases connection.
When couples start using "we talk," they naturally feel more connected, since they're referring to themselves as one. This, Dr. Sommerfeldt explains, is similar to maintaining a team mentality, but it can also be helpful to hear a partner engage in "we talk" so that you feel even more connected to them. "It demonstrates that your partner also views you as a unit, which can bring the relationship feelings of strength and togetherness," she says.
It reduces sensitivity.
When an argument arises, it's normal to feel particularly sensitive to the things your partner says, even if they're not meant to be hurtful. But using "we talk," can help reduce those feelings of being targeted as an individual and instead frame the entire conversation to be directed more towards the two of you as a couple, explains Dr. Sommerfeldt.