Communication in Marriage – Couples’ Communication Tips & Advice | Marriage Life
The #1 problem in relationships, whether one is dating or married is without a doubt poor communication skills.
For over 20 years I have looked at relationships, but more specifically communication in relationships. Why did I obsessively look relationships in the first place?
Let me tell you my story.
November 27, 1996, my stepfather and I walk into a hospital room in Ft. Myers, Florida. We see my mother lying in bed. She doesn’t see us yet. We see her laying there with a needle in her arm, tubes wrapping around her arm, nose, and head as the tubes lead back to the machine that is rhythmically beeping away. Beep. Beep. Beep.
My mother finally sees us, then immediately starts gasping for air. Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep!
Her eyes are bulging out her sockets, her body is shaking violently. Then nurses suddenly rush in, followed immediately by doctors. They quickly rush us out. My stepfather was crying the ugly grown-up cry. The cry that had his eyes swelled up, and snot coming out of his nose. During that moment, God’s gift of humor that He gave me took over.
“Man, if I will look like that when I cry as an adult, I never want to grow up.”
No, I’m not a child of Satan. I was 12 years old, in a hospital. Doctors save lives is what I thought as a kid. My mother would be fine.
“There, there dad. They are doctors. They know what they’re doing.”
November 28, 1996, I would lose my mother to HIV.
In the same week that my mother died, my stepfather goes to Haiti.
A few months after that, I am sat down on a couch the following summer and was told that they murdered him.
That leaves my last living blood relative. My Granduncle. My funny, short-tempered, and loving Granduncle. He dies of diabetes shortly after my stepfather dies.
In less than a year I become a child with no blood relations. I was the only child. I never met an aunt or an uncle. I never even saw a picture of my dad let alone knew him personally. I am alone.
Why do I tell you that? I tell you that, hoping from reading these words a few points are sincerely and honestly communicated.
I really deeply care about relationships is one point. I mean, obsessively. I felt alone. I felt unloved by God. Cursed even. I NEEDED to form relationships. Every relationship I would ever form from that point would be an extension of a family I would never have. Every relationship I would hope to form would be a desperate attempt to fill the emptiness I felt inside.
My obsession to create relationship made me deeply, and intensely study relationships. What I wanted to know was what made relationships fail, and what made them succeed. Guess what the number 1 problem was? (Spoiler alert, I already told you.)
This blog. My book. My social media. My speaking engagements. My counseling services. My website. My workshops. My Spoken Word poetry, my thoughts that were fed by what my eyes observed, and ears heard are all outlets I use to spread what I have learned. In hopes, of helping relationships stay happily together.
Communication is the #1 problem in a relationship. And, since marriage is a type of relationship that statement applies. And probably even more so, since Christians spouses are called to be “one” in marriage. How close to another person can you get than that lawd?
It’s one thing to know that your communication skills seriously suffer, but let’s talk about the solution to communication problems in this article. Not the many things that can cause communication problems.
To be fair though, I’ll briefly mention some problems that make communication in marriage difficult. Here is a brief list:
Or to sum it up, we can just say that we are sinful creatures. And sin has devastating effects on our relationships.
We are imperfect creatures. Two imperfect people attempting to “be” together inevitably will run into issues.
Two imperfect people need to have their “being” perfected by Jesus. The only perfect “being”.
It starts there. It really, truly, and deeply starts there. Continually having a relationship with Jesus, a relationship in which you seek to submit to His will. His truth. His direction. His instructions. And His teaching leads your sinful to “being” in submission to His Spirit that lives in you, and then it is the Spirit that works on the sin in you.
Wait a minute! I thought we were talking about improving communication in marriage. Why did you start with Jesus?
I started at the root of all problems in humans. Sin.
Sure, it isn’t a popular starting point. Most people would rather hear the format of:
Step 1- Listen to your partner….
I get it. Steps have their purpose. I’ll be using steps later on in this article. However, does that address the core problem? I don’t think so.
Imagine having a hole on a ship, and the ship is in the middle of the ocean. Water is pouring in the hole onto the ship. You find the hole; you patch it up. A few hours later, you find another hole in the ship, in the same area and patch it up. Once again you find the hole and plug it up. A few hours later…
See where I am going with this? How long would you keep plugging holes before you tried to figure out what was causing the holes?
The ‘ship’ is the marriage. Relation ‘ship’. The holes on the ship represent the problem. The cause of the holes? Guess what it is.
Pride- Proverbs 16:18 18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
Dishonesty- Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal faithfully are His delight.
Anger-Proverbs 29:11 Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.
Stubbornness- Proverbs 29:1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
These verses that just so happen to talk about the sin in us all, coincidentally address common causes to communication problems in marriages. Hmpf! Ain’t that something?!
Expert Communication in Marriage Tips
Tip 1: Spouses need to seriously seek to be transformed by Jesus. Learn who he is. Grow in a relationship with Him. Learn His truths and seek to consistently apply those truths, doctrines, principles, or ideas in your life. That deals with or reduces many of the sins taken into communication.
Tip 2.) Stop trying to be right, seek to be understood. Biggg difference.
Tip 3.) Actively listen. What does that mean? Here’s a tip inside of a tip, HEAR without thinking you are right. HEAR with the mindset that you MAY be wrong.
Tip 4.) Say I’m sorry. Don’t justify.
Tip 5.) Forgive infinitely. You aren’t perfect either.
Tip 6.) Patience. Learn to wait peacefully.
Tip 7.) Practice selflessness. If any of your talks involve an end goal of you getting what you want…. you’re selfish.
Tip 8.) Consistently try to be more and more honest- Some people fear the consequences of truth. I urge you to think about the devastating consequences of lies.
Tip 9.) Every argument teaches a lesson that can help you prevent the next argument. Learn to listen, learn, and look to apply.
Tip 10.) It’s often not that serious. Relax.
Tip 11.) Sometimes, at least SOMETIMES it’s YOUR fault. It has nothing to do with them. It’s just you. Yes, YOU.
Tip 12.) Sometimes, it’s not what is said. It is how it’s said. People mess up their words sometimes. Words aren’t always a reflection of the heart.
Tip 13.) Silence is a two-edged sword.
Tip 14.) If you two find yourself speaking louder than the conversation requires, take a break, walk away, then revisit the convo.
Tip 15.) “If you love me you’ll…” It is often the highest form of manipulation.
Tip 16.) Half-truths are sinful.
Tip 17.) Your spouse hasn’t developed mind-reading superpowers yet. Tell them. Show them. Teach them what you desire.
Tip 18.) There is such a thing as good arguments.
Tip 19.) Try saying it in different ways if the message isn’t being understood one way.
Tip 20.) Disrespect shouldn’t happen. Period.
Couples Communication Boosters Top 5 Activities You Must Try
1.)Self Awareness Lesson– On a paper write each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Don’t show them to each other yet. Just write them down on a paper. In one column list, ‘Strengths’, and in the other column list “Weaknesses.” For this activity just keep it to 5 things. 4 positive strengths, and 1 not so good weakness. (see how I did that? I didn’t say 1 negative weakness)
Day 1- You two just exchange papers. Now you spend at least a few hours with the papers. (at least 2 hours) Look at what your spouse has said your strengths and weaknesses are. Spend a day to look at them and reflect. Find people in your life whose opinion you respect and ask them what they think of the list that your spouse did.
Day 2- You two come together and talk about each other’s list. Now, mind you, I said TALK ABOUT. Not argue. Not defend yourself. Not justify. Not point fingers. This isn’t the time to have you two argue about what each other put on the list. ‘this is just a time to hear’ your spouse’s thoughts and feelings about you. Who spends more time with you than your spouse? They are your ‘Mirror’.
Related Article: How Do You Make Him Talk to You After a Fight? | Marriage sharing
You ever felt like you had a booger in your nose? Yes, you heard correctly. I said booger. As in dried mucus in your nose.
You ever felt like you had one? When you felt like you had one, you probably tried to remove it yourself without asking someone, or looking in the mirror right? After that, you probably still felt like the stubborn booger was ninja-like elusive, so you asked someone, “Hey, do I have something right here?”
If you were too embarrassed to ask someone you most likely looked in the…….mirror. A mirror is a great tool that one uses to be able to ‘see’ something about ourselves that we alone can’t often ‘see’ about ourselves.
When you have a good relationship and can communicate effectively with your spouse, then you have a mirror. A person who acts like a ‘mirror’ that shows you your booger aka your flaws. How priceless is that? Check out a video of me speaking on the topic from my workshop.
The problem with our flaws, besides the devastating problems it causes for our spouse, is that we can’t take criticism about it. We can’t take corrections about it. We reject guidance. Pride is one hell of a drug. A drug that leads to the death of many relationships.
The exercise above is to be done if spouses are serious about learning to take correction, criticism, or guidance from their spouse. Many many many arguments in relationships happen because of the inability to take criticism from your spouse.
“Sweetie, I feel like you should do this better. When you do this, this result happens. And we talked about not wanting that result.”
Nothing is wrong with what was just said. I am sure as you read that, you could have experimented with different tones to make it sound harsh, but from a simple observation of the words communicated, and an assumption of a respectful tone, that statement wasn’t offensive and was communicated well.
Regardless though, a spouse somewhere in the world would get offended.
The offense generally, isn’t based on the words that were used.
The offense isn’t even about what the statement is referring to.
The most common reason such a spouse would find offense is due to their inability to take correction.
“Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.”
2.) Accountability Lesson: This is an extension of the last activity. So, your spouse has told you strengths and weaknesses. Most likely, your mind is focused on the flaw and not the positive things. We are human; I get it. Let’s get the not so good negative out the way.
For the next two days in this 2nd activity, I want both spouses to work on that flaw daily. While one spouse works on that flaw, the other partner acknowledges that effort and rewards the spouse. The reward doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. It doesn’t have to announced like, “Hey, I am acknowledging this flaw you are working on.” It could be as simple as a massage, written letter, a post on social media telling your followers how you feel about what your spouse just did (use with wisdom), etc.
How the spouses are rewarded, doesn’t matter. What matters is that a positive feeling is associated with a negative flaw.
For example, one spouse tells the other that one negative flaw that they have is… yelling during a conversation. That spouse then spends the next two days monitoring his ‘booger’ to be aware of when they are yelling.
When there is an important conversation (not every conversation that happens) where the spouse would normally yell but doesn’t, then that is progress. The other spouse would reward them soon after that. It could be as simple as a kiss on the lips saying that you appreciate their effort.
A really powerful way to greatly reward your spouse is by rewarding them in their love language. One of the best books regarding relationships I have ever read. I wouldn’t recommend something I don’t believe in. Every couple who breathes God’s air should read that book. Many communication problems in your marriage can be easily solved by just understanding the lessons taught in the book.
Flaws take a while to break, don’t be too hard on yourself when you fail from time to time. Spouses condemn each other. Encourage each other to form good habits instead.
3 Appreciation Lesson: Now that the negative is easier to not focus on (assuming you followed the last activity with a good spirit) let’s talk about the positive things your spouse mentioned. Take ONE positive thing about your spouse and let it be known it is appreciated. A letter, voice note, video, a conversation about when it was done in the past, etc. Be creative. Be thoughtful.
4th Rinse and Repeat Take the other positive thing said and repeat the activity from above. Why wouldn’t you just do all in the same day?
It gives each spouse something positive to look forward to. In between these activities,’ an argument may happen. We may test your communication while the solution these exercises are seeking to provide is being developed.
If you two are staying committed to the exercise despite the problems that may occur, then you would be forced to be positive regardless.
“Changing deeply rarely happens immediately. It usually happens gradually over time.”
5th Mutual Goal: You two do the activity again. Make ONE modification to the activity. Just ONE so that the activity isn’t over complicated. Follow the same amount of days in between though. Those days in between gives time for new information to be processed.
These 5 activities may seem simple. But, who says difficult problems require complicated solutions?
Conclusion: Quick points.
- The #1 problem in marriage is communication. How did I determine this? What my research was. Why I care.
- We all are imperfect, hence, why it takes a perfect person to perfect us.
- There are biblical verses that deal with common communication problems that revolve around pride, deceit, anger, etc.
- 20 tips are listed that attempt to help you seriously shift how you approach communication. Replace those approaches with 1 of those tips daily until it becomes second nature. Then work on the next tip, and do the same thing.
- Some exercises to help spouses practically improve communication.