What you say to your significant other on a regular basis matters—even if talking to him or her might feel entirely normal given the fact that you live together and spend so much time side by side. While how we communicate is important, the words we use to communicate our thoughts and feelings truly reign supreme, according to relationship experts. "Words can have a powerful impact and the way that partners speak with one another can either lead to eroding the relationship or strengthening it," says Antonia Hall is a psychologist, relationship expert, and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life. "In a happy, healthy relationship both partners are conscientious of how their words will make each other feel and are mindful of speaking respectfully, but in a not-so-healthy relationship, there are often feelings being hurt and conflict being created that can inevitably lead to an untimely breakup." To strengthen your relationship with your spouse and create a lasting bond that will carry you through the decades, add these words and phrases to your marriage vocab, stat.
Appreciation goes a long way in a relationship of any kind, but especially in a romantic one, so Hall suggests making a concerted effort to acknowledge your partner for the things, both big and small, that they do for you. "Everyone wants to know that their efforts are appreciated, and that they're valued, rather than taken for granted," she says. "Thanking your partner fosters mutual love, respect, and a positive atmosphere."
"I love you."
While this one might seem incredibly obvious, you might be surprised by how often (or not so often) you actually say these words. Let's face it—you're both busy and know that your partner loves you, but saying it is still important. "Share your love with your partner verbally so they know they're an important, valued part of your life," says Hall. "It'll go a long way in the energy and longevity of your marriage."
"I believe in you."
As a married couple, you both play for the same team—you are one. Sometimes, however, when arguments arise, you can feel as though you're on opposite sides. No matter your differences (and you will have many of them), remember to come back to a place of unity. "You both need to feel you are rooting for each other and have confidence in each other," says Gail Saltz, M.D., psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry at The New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine. "To know that your partner has your back, is in it with you, and thinks you can do it pretty much anything you set your mind to makes a huge difference in how you feel in the relationship and what makes it so important to you."
"How do you feel?"
This question could be totally open ended or could be about something in particular, but asking shows your partner one important thing: that you care. "Showing that you care doesn't always mean you can do something about how he or she feels, but the very act of wanting to know, to share and to be present, keeps you feeling connected," says Dr. Saltz. "Part of this has to do with the idea that you are listening to your partner—listening and feeling understood matter to every important intimate relationship."
"I am sorry."
Disagreements and fights will always happen, and they're totally normal. But how you resolve the disagreement is what differentiates happy relationships from unhappy ones. "It is important to say you're sorry if you've injured your partner and it is equally important to accept I am sorry from your partner when they offer it," says Dr. Saltz. "This is the way to overcome hurts and repair and move on."