The journey of improving communication in a marriage is a work in progress. It’s also one worth making. Like any journey, it helps to know where you’re going. So, what is effective communication in a marriage? Positive relationship communication often looks like:
- Listening to understand instead of just responding
- Accepting responsibility
- Prioritizing solving problems over placing blame
However, sometimes it’s easier to notice the signs of bad communication in a relationship. These might include:
- Reacting with blame or defensivenessGetting constantly distracted
- Avoiding difficult conversations
- Using aggressive or intentionally hurtful language
If you’re looking for ways to improve communication with your partner, then you’re in the right place. This blog will cover the stresses that relationships place on effective communication and how you and your spouse can rekindle healthy conversations. There’s also specific exercises and steps to get you started on the right path.
The Importance of Communication in a Marriage
Healthy communication is so essential to the success of a marriage, or any relationship, because it allows couples to work together to overcome obstacles. When communication breaks down, however, spouses can turn against each other. When every conversation turns into an argument, healthy communication loses out to passive aggressive orders, passing blame, and the silent treatment.
Understandably, married couples are concerned when once loving interactions become filled with combative statements. How many marriages fail because of lack of communication? Studies vary on the exact percentage, but most agree that poor communication is responsible for over 50% of failed marriages. This consensus is supported by evidence collected over 50 years of study, which points to contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling as the most significant predictors of a failing relationship.
These numbers may seem intimidating, but there is hope if you’re experiencing poor communication in your relationship. At Well Marriage Center, we believe that couples can revitalize positive communication because we’ve seen it time and time again.
What Causes a Lack of Communication in a Marriage?
Lack of communication in a relationship is often tied to other, larger issues. When external pressures—like bills, career responsibilities, and unequal household chores—build up, they can cause frustration that seeps into conversations between spouses. Sometimes, marriage can start to feel like living with a coworker or roommate because there are so many tasks to complete. If you’re experiencing this, it’s extra important to make time for conversations that extend beyond your to-do list.
Mental health challenges—like anxiety, depression, and childhood trauma—can also make it more difficult for partners to open up about their own feelings or trust each other. In these situations, difficult and even exciting conversations with your partner can become overwhelming. Instead of facing the world together, one or both partners may find themselves avoiding confrontation. Working with a marriage counselor can help because sessions don’t just work on improving communication; they also get to the root cause of communication barriers.
How Do You Rebuild Communication in a Marriage?
For many married couples, structure and commitment are the keys to rebuilding healthy communication. Renewing clear and effective dialogue can be a difficult process, which is why these qualities are so important. Make it easier to stay consistent with your efforts by:
- Choosing a specific space for difficult conversations
- Setting aside a dedicated portion of your day
- Working with a marriage counselor
Rebuilding communication in a relationship also takes intentional effort. You and your partner need to both be committed to the process. Communication is inherently tied to other challenges in a relationship, and making progress will involve many difficult conversations. These challenges are another reason why working with a marriage counselor, like the specialists at Well Marriage Center, can help make the process more engaging and effective. Marriage counselors provide:
- A safe, neutral space for even the most difficult conversations
- Mediation to guide discussions in a productive direction
- Communication exercises tailored for your relationship dynamic
While this may sound rigid, there are plenty of fun ways to communicate with your spouse! Many of the following marriage communication exercises are part of couples counseling, and you can also try them at home to start reigniting conversations:
- Start a shared journal or scrapbook. This activity will serve as a fun way for you and your partner to record exciting memories or challenges that you worked through as a team. Sometimes, writing down your feelings is easier than saying them out loud, which is another benefit of this exercise.
- Have date nights away from the pressures and routines of your daily lives. Dates will give you and your partner time and space to reconnect without worrying about the mess on the kitchen table or who’s turn it is to get the sock back from your dog. In a relaxed setting, you will both feel more comfortable about sharing your feelings.
- Share music or other media that you’re passionate about. Doing so opens up an opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper level. Your partner’s favorite song at the moment may reveal a lot more about how they’re feeling than a routine conversation ever could.
- Take a walk together. Just like scheduling a date night outside of the house, taking a walk together is a great way to remove distractions from your environment. And, it’s free and easy to do! The American Psychological Association also published data on how regular, moderate exercise can improve mental health (which also makes communication easier).
Ready to start putting in the work for a healthier, more connected relationship? At Well Marriage Center, we’re prepared to help you through the challenges, the fun, and everything in between when it comes to rebuilding communication in your marriage. We believe in things that last, meaning we work with you to preserve your marriage. We celebrate what made it great in the first place and look for ways to help you and your partner enjoy more of those moments. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.