In a comment on my article about blaming someone else other than yourself when something goes wrong in a relationship, words were pointed out to be one of the more hurtful things that can occur in a relationship. No, they don't leave marks on the body, but they leave marks on the soul and the heart, on the spirit and the mind.
In relationships, especially in times of argument or disagreement, words tend to become heated and keeping control of one's tongue can become a monumental task. For some people, they deliberately use words to hurt others. For some, it is just something that spills out in the heat of the moment. But like time, words can never be gotten back once they are uttered. Saying you're sorry, will only soothe the pain a little, the underlying hurt and scars remain. And what if the person saying the words, never apologizes? Then those words become part of a stack of hurt that is carried around from that day forward. It builds resentment, walls, pain, depression, and can become like an open infected sore until the weight of the infection is too much for the body and either the person breaks or the relationship does, sometimes both.
Many people think that words spoken in the heat of an argument should be discounted as something not meant. But the heart and soul, and yes even the mind don't see it that way. If it gets into the open, somewhere, some place inside the person saying it, they believe it. It may not be part of their everyday thinking and feeling, but somewhere it is true, even in the smallest extent. Once spoken, it becomes part of the fabric of the relationship. The argument may be resolved. Apologies may be issued, but it becomes a permanent thread in the fabric. It becomes a permanent place in the other person's heart. Yes, it is possible to continue a relationship after such words are spoken, but deep down it's never the same as it was before the words. If the words continue to come out, in arguments, in misunderstandings, then they build up to the point where they become too much fact and it opens the gates for a breakdown or a break up.
The old phrase sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, is just not true. No they can't leave broken bones. They can't leave outer marks that others can see. But they leave the marks that remain always never healing, never being removed. They become as lashes to the soul. Sticks and stones spoken onto the air.