Brad and I have a sort of rule in our relationship. The phrase “It’s no big deal” isn’t allowed. I’m sure when I first told him I hated that phrase, he thought it was, well, no big deal. But, it was/is a big deal to me.
“It’s no big deal” is dismissive. It shuts down coversation. It puts the upset person on the defensive All things that I’ve never heard as being conductive to a good relationship. It is not really a good answer for anything.
If Brad comes to me and says “I am really upset that you did XYZ.” and my immediate response is “I don’t see what the big deal is”, than what is the harm in me giving in and taking care of the problem the way he would like. If I go to him and say “I’m tired of you always picking where we eat for dinner. I feel like you don’t care what I want.” he has two choices, 1. Listen to me, think about why he never lets me pick what’s for dinner, try to understand that it makes me feel bad, and be more careful next time to make sure he at least gets my opinion. Or, 2. He can say “it’s just dinner, it’s no big deal.” which doesn’t fix the problem, makes me feel worse, makes me upset and start trying to defend myself, reenforces the idea that my feelings and opinions don’t matter. If it is really, truely, not any big deal, than why can’t he let me pick sometimes? This is not an issue we have had, and it is obviously oversimplified, but it makes my point.
Could this backfire? Could this be bad? I suppose, in a relationship where one person is controlling or manipulative, it could be. Someone who was controlling could claim EVERYTTHING is a big deal, or they could demand their spouse have no friends at all, because it was a big deal to them. I can see this not working for them, but, I certainly hope, the person being controlled would be able to explain why it is a big deal to have friends. Obvviously, not everything will work for everyone, but, it’s been a good rule of thumb for us. This is an issue that has been on my mind, partially because after I explained a situation to Brad, he told me what a good rule he thought it was.
I recently saw a former friend post 4 facebook stauses in a row…all talking about her friend, and he is just a friend and his wife is a psycho jealous old woman and their friendship is “no big deal” and she can just get over it.
Really? If it is no big deal, if there isn’t anything there, if ALL they do is discuss the old days in high school, and his wife is seriously upset about it, then, why can’t this woman drop it? Obviously it is a big deal to the wife. If it is no big deal for former friend, than what is the big deal with leaving the guy alone? Former friend continued on, trying to get all her friends to comment, and boy, did they. Things like “whatever, that’s so stupid”, “men and women can be friends!”, “jealous bitch”, “what, doesn’t she trust her own husband?”, and “maybe if she wasn’t so controlling she wouldn’t be worried he was out looking”.
Funny thing about marriage, nobody knows completely what is going on except the people in it. So, maybe the wife doesn’t trust her husband, and maybe she has a good reason. Maybe she knows her husband can’t be just friends. Maybe she is “controlling” because he’s shown with any freedom, that he will do something wrong.
I just wanted so badly to reply “If it’s no big deal, than get out of their relationship and their problems.” I didn’t, but, I feel more and more like I am the odd one out. I would not be comfortable knowing I was causing issues in the marriage of someone I considered “a very good friend”.
I realize banning the phrase “it’s no big deal” might be a bit much. But, if you find yourself tempted to say it, please think about it. Is it really no big deal? Then why can’t you do something else? Are you saying it to be dismissive of the other person? Because you know you don’t really have a good reason to continue, or because you know they’ve made a valid point? Are you putting them on the defensive because you know you don’t really have a defense? If it does matter to you, then please, explain, talk, reason, negotiate, compromise, but please don’t use “it’s no big deal” as a polite “shut up”.