5 Skills to Improve Communication With Your Spouse

Communication breakdowns are a common issue in many marriages. Some couples struggle with communication more than others do, and this can be due to differences in personality and communication style. However, working to establish clear and effective communication is key to enjoying a happy marriage in the long term.

In order to improve communication in your marriage, there are five realms of communication you must each work to strengthen. Let’s jump right in.

1. Information sharing

Sharing information involves the ability to clearly and accurately state your thoughts and feelings without losing yourself in emotion or getting off track. Being able to articulate your thoughts and feelings in a way that’s easy to understand is a skill some of us have naturally, but many of us must learn. The accurate sharing of information means that we must sometimes slow down and think about how our words are coming across to our spouse.

Evaluate your communication, particularly when you’re conveying information to your spouse. Are you getting all the necessary thoughts out of your head so your spouse has full context? Is it possible you’re assuming they know more than they actually do? Are there details you’re leaving out that would help them better understand your point of view?

2. Listening

When we listen well, that means we’re respectfully paying attention to our spouse’s words and feelings. That way, they know we’re doing our best to understand their point of view. Listening well goes hand in hand with empathy–an essential skill for long-lasting relationships.

Echo your understanding to one another when you communicate to ensure you’re accurately understanding one another. Be honest when you aren’t understanding one another well, so that you can add clarity to the conversation. Misunderstandings lead to further conflict, so it’s crucial that you master this skill as early in your relationship as possible.

3. Conflict management

Conflict management means remaining aware of whatever conflict we’re trying to solve, and knowing what tools to use in order to both defuse the issue and move past it together. In the midst of a misunderstanding or a fight, it can be easy to get defensive and emotional. But reactivity escalates conflict, when what you want to do is make it smaller–not bigger.

Take a pause when you feel yourself becoming defensive or upset. It’s beneficial to take a breath and rethink the situation you’re dealing with. Sometimes, it’s even a good idea to take a break from the disagreement for a little while and come back fresh when you’ve had a moment to clear your heads.

4. Problem solving

Problem solving entails working together to efficiently and effectively reach a desired outcome. Can you put your heads together and figure out what steps to take next? Are your goals clear–with yourselves and one another? Have you found a happy medium you can both agree on?

Take a little time to figure out your shared, desired outcome. Then, work together to agree on the steps you should take to reach that goal. Two heads are better than one, so use teamwork to your advantage to solve the issues that come your way.

5. Skill selection

Skill selection means the ability to effectively determine which communication skills you should utilize at any given time, depending on the situation. Your ability to decide which communication skill you should use in the moment can either help or hinder your communication with your spouse.

For example, there’s an appropriate time to use humor, and an appropriate time to be serious and silent. The skills you each choose to use will determine the tone and outcome of your interactions. Carefully selecting skills for each situation will help you navigate communication issues with greater ease in the long run.

Discover How You Communicate

Getting deeper insights into how you and your spouse communicate will pay dividends over the course of your marriage. Relationship assessments such as SYMBIS+ give married couples a deeper understanding of one another’s personalities, communication styles, and more. Plus, our brand-new SYMBIS+ companion book, Strengthen Your Marriage, goes hand-in-hand with the assessment to help you make your marriage stronger than ever before. Pick up your copy here.

Have you and your spouse mastered communication? What are your secrets? Share your tips with us in the comments section.

9 Comments

  • Jo says:

    Your articles seem to only cover couples who have mutual good will towards each other. You don’t seem to address the marriage where one spouse has a high conflict personality and has emotionally destroyed the other spouse, blame shifted to the point of not taking responsibility for their actions or harsh words, interrupts conversations constantly so the other spouse shuts down and does not feel they have a voice, uses scripture as a weapon instead of the healing balm it was meant to be. There are marriages where the verbal abuse has damaged the relationship to the point of no return. It would be really helpful if you actually addressed the deeper, darker areas of marriage communication and the damage that is done through it.

    • Shekira says:

      that is a great point and something that is needed as well. Great communication obviously works better when two parties understand and are willing to put in the work to make it work but it can be challenging when it is only one sided.

    • Eve says:

      I agree with you 💯 …. What should the spouse willing to fight for the marriage do when the other spouse is unbothered

  • Dennis says:

    My wife and I truly gained wisdom through the Symbis program, as well as our children. I would hope that Jo and spouse were matched with a good Symbis facilitator, to address the issues openly together. Take off the gloves, take off the sunglasses, take down whatever prohibits an open & honest face-to-face (eye-to-eye) verbal discussion (in the presence of the facilitator) to express the feelings that has been damaged. We both are grateful for our facilitator, for how we were able to open up conversations that opened our eyes, and carefully healed our hearts!

  • Patrick says:

    As we are at forty five years of marriage I can relate to Jo’s comments.

  • Lil says:

    I agree with Jo & Shekira; It’s very difficult when the spouse is very verbally abusive

  • Candice says:

    I agree with Jo. It is also hard to communicate when the spouse does not and will not communicate when there is conflict/problem to be solved and does NOT like details…when all he wants is a simple, non complicated life…this is due to abuse from when he was growing up – but that was 55 years ago. There is so much I would love to discuss, but it does not happen. We have a roommate type of relationship, instead of a soulmate one which I SO, so desire…even after 50 years of marriage.

    • Bob says:

      I get the sense that you have an expectation that the damage in your husband from abuse he suffered in his past, should disappear with age? Unfortunately, that seldom happens. Traumatic experiences stick with us for a lifetime. It sounds like your husband needs some good counseling to learn how to process and appropriately deal with this past damage to help him heal to improve his current day life.

  • Matt says:

    Prayer still works. I’m living proof! Pray for your spouse daily.

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