Words That Destroy Relationships

In my work as a forensic psychologist I have been involved in hundreds of criminal cases of domestic abuse over the years. Some of them involved the death of one, or even both, of the people in the relationship. I think it is obvious to everyone that by the time couples are using physical weapons against each other, the relationship is in very deep trouble to say the least.

The thing most people fail to realize is that the vast majority of relationship damages are not caused by physical weapons or violence. The damage done without guns and knives kills more relationships than that done with physical violence. And, just what exactly, are these weapons?


INXS preforms a song that is one of the songs that I really like called “The Devil Inside” and in it they sing about the frailties of people. At one point in the song they sing a line that expresses my thoughts better than I can, “Words as weapons sharper than knives. Makes you wonder how the other half dies.” When they sing that line, they are referring to women, but I think it also applies to men.

Most of us heard way to many times when we were growing up “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” While that is certainly a mindset we should all strive for, it is rarely the truth. Words hurt more people than any weapon ever created by us. The problem is that many people shoot off their mouths when they feel slighted in some way, spraying toxic verbal bullets that they can never take back.

It has been said that one can’t un-ring a bell that’s already been rung. This is just as valid with respect to verbal abuse. You can’t fully undo the harm of a hurtful rant. An apology is rather like a bandage on the wound, which helps it heal properly but can’t eliminate the eventual scar. The pain you inflict with words may not be have the visibility of an actual cut, but can run just as deep.

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– Eric Menzies