Mind Your "But"


Image Source:  www.psychotactics.com
The word "but" has bothered me for years now.

Early on in our marriage, one of our little arguments became a little bigger because my husband used the word "but" in his argument against me.

I don't like "but" in a lot of contexts and for several reasons.

Mostly because often-times when you use "but" in a sentence, it diminishes anything said before it and emphasizes everything said after it.

So the words, "I like Cheese Its, but I really love buttered popcorn." are really saying "I really love buttered popcorn, but Cheese Its are okay, too."

Where this isn't necessarily a problem when snack foods are concerned, it can be a problem where real life is concerned.

In the days before my wedding, I had a train of "buts" come through my life that hurt me (not by my husband, no worries!).  "I love you, but...", "I'm sorry, but...", "I know I shouldn't say this, but...", "I'm happy for you and (Husband), but...".

The worst kind of "buts".

The "buts" that shouldn't be said.

And in that early argument in our marriage, I laid out my feelings about this word for my new husband.

Some words should never have a "but".

I love you.

I'm sorry.

"But" should never follow those.  Those words are too invaluable and too meaningful to tarnish with anything else.  They should never have a "but" attached to them.

Love has no conditions.  You can't love someone but hate how they leave their socks in the bathroom floor. You either love them or you don't.  You can love them despite their habits, though.

"I'm sorry, but" doesn't mean you're sorry, it means you know you shouldn't say what you're about to say, but you don't value that person enough to refrain from saying it.

And in the early months following that early argument, I was surprised to see that my new husband heard me.  And must have agreed with me.  Because one afternoon when The Boy launched into an argument with The Husband, he stopped The Boy and explained to him that we don't use "but" that way.

"But" isn't an excuse to say something we know we shouldn't say.  There's no justification for deliberately hurting the feelings of others.  And that's a big part of the role "but" has come to play.  We start out with a polite sentiment and reverse it with an ugly statement to follow it.

How we would change ourselves and others if we made "but" a positive word.

"I like that shirt, but I really love the necklace you've paired it with."

"I've always thought you were so much fun, but the more I get to know you, the more I really admire you."

My goal—and it's not always easy—is to mind my "but".  If my "but" doesn't make my statement better....maybe I would be better off keeping my "but" to myself.
Ashley Harris Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.