Communication in Marriage

Communication problems are the number-one reason couples divorce, according to one study. It’s heartbreaking that such a simple factor can make or break a marriage! While honesty, love, and loyalty are all important to a healthy relationship, they mean nothing if you don’t communicate your feelings and needs to your partner and listen to theirs in return.

When it comes to communication problems, men and women have different complaints about their spouses. Men are bothered most by nagging and complaining from their partners, while women struggle the most when their spouse doesn’t validate their feelings or opinions. In fact, there are four main types of communication issues that typically lead to a split: criticizing your spouse’s personality, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling, or not communicating at all.

Communicating with your spouse doesn’t only have to happen when times are tough. Open, honest communication is a key part to every aspect of a happy, healthy marriage. For example, verbally expressing that you trust and love them is just as important as (if not more than) telling them things they should improve upon. Give compliments, thank your partner, praise them when they do something good. Even if you have all the love in the world for your spouse, they won’t feel it or know it if you don’t communicate it to them.

A good relationship also relies on nonverbal communication. Body language is very telling, so make sure you are communicating openness and positivity when talking with your spouse. Folded arms or legs or a sour expression shows that you would rather be doing anything but having a conversation with them. You can even communicate your love with acts of kindness for your partner. Whether it’s washing the dishes, picking up their favorite snack, or making dinner for them, these little things prove that sometimes actions speak louder than words.

One of the most important aspects of communication is not talking or body language, but listening. David Cunningham, a program leader for the Landmark Forum (formerly Landmark Education), suggests that you should listen to the other person, be really interested in how they see life, and listen to them until they’ve really told us what they want to tell us.

When your partner sees that you are actively listening to them and their opinions, they will see that “we’ve really listened the first time and they’ll listen to us.”

The most important thing to remember is to combine both verbal and nonverbal communications for a successful marriage. Willingness to talk and listen openly regardless of what emotions you are feeling can take any marriage from good to great.