In some ways, words are the most powerful tools in a marriage. They have the ability to build a relationship up, but they can just as easily tear it down. The hurt from a cruel word can last a lifetime, even after apologies have been made and forgiveness has been granted. While the language of a relationship is unique to each couple, there are some things you should avoid saying to your partner in almost any circumstances. Below, I’ve listed seven utterances that can be severely destructive to your relationship.

You always/never… When you make blanket statements using words like “always” and “never,” you set up a negative tone and create a barrier to communication. These all-or-nothing words put your spouse on the defense, and do not allow for compromise, empathy, or cooperation.

You’re just like your father/mother. By comparing your spouse to their father or mother, you can end up insulting both them and their family. Many people are particularly sensitive about their families’ negative traits, and attacking this delicate area can come off as cruel and unnecessarily hurtful.

It’s your fault. When you assign all the blame to the other person, you can cause more anger and disconnection. It’s important for couples to work together as a team to find a solution to a problem.

He/she would have… It doesn’t matter if you’re comparing your partner to an ex, friend, or friend’s spouse—comparisons can be cruel and condescending.

This is just like when you… Once past grievousness and arguments have been settled, it’s best to leave them alone. Don’t dig up old wounds and use them as weapons to attack your partner in a new argument.

I want a divorce. Never mention divorce in an argument if you are not seriously considering it. By threatening divorce as a way to hurt or scare your spouse, you will cause a great mistrust that will be hard to undo.

Of course, there are plenty of words you should say as often as possible—such as “I love you” or “I appreciate that.” You and your spouse can learn more strategies for healthy communication in Portland marriage counseling.