Communication: The Most Important Skill to Have in a Relationship

It’s no secret. The most important skill you can have in any relationship, especially a marriage, is communication. Experts agree that if you want to have a healthy relationship you need to learn how to communicate well. Communication is the foundation to getting connected and creating intimacy. And in order to have this intimate connection with your partner, it’s crucial that you have good communication skills.

It’s mystifying sometimes when you want to connect, and are ready to, yet your communication suddenly breaks down and you don’t know why. Today we want to discuss two fundamental skills in communication that will help avoid a communication breakdown. These two simple skills will help you get back to the basics, and harbor the best communication that your relationship can afford! Let’s jump in.

Clarify Content

Did you know that the most common words we use in the English language have 3.5 different meanings each? That leaves a lot of room for miscommunication! In any conversation two people have, it’s important to clarify the meaning behind the words, especially if there is any misunderstanding.

For example, you get ready for a night out and ask your spouse how you look. Your spouse replies “Fine with me.” You assume that your spouse’s “fine” means something completely different than was intended. Frustrated with your spouse’s response, you go change. When in reality it never occurred to your spouse that “fine” could be interpreted negatively, and their response was intended to let you know that you looked good.

This is a great example of a communication breakdown and why it’s important to clarify the content behind words. Don’t assume you know what your spouse intends by jumping to conclusions or trying to read between the lines. Ask for the meaning behind their words first.

By clarifying content, you will open up the communication doors to a better understanding, and in turn will avoid a communication breakdown, or worse, a fight.

Reflect Feelings

There are currents of emotions that flow between two people in a conversation. A conversation can be compared to sifting for gold; you are looking for that little golden nugget to hand back to your partner to let them know you understand the meaning behind their words. By reflecting feelings back to your partner simply by saying “is this how you feel?” you are letting them know they are known, and that you want to understand them deeply.

During the next conversation you have with your partner try this; ask them if the feelings you interpret are correct. It’s as simple as that. If they aren’t, then you are giving your partner a chance to clarify themselves, and in turn giving yourself a deeper level of understanding.

Most of us think we reflect feelings a lot better than we actually do. So by speaking the words you think your partner feels out loud, you are showing your partner you are trying to understand them at a profound level.

Putting this into practice

  • You don’t have to be perfect! First and foremost, remember that you need to give your partner (and yourself) room to fail. If you authentically want to be closer, then any attempt at good communication is what will draw you closer. If you are genuine and want to make that connection with your partner, it will shine through.
  • Take notes if you need to! It’s ok to have a note card, or note in your phone, about these two key skills. Remind yourself daily to practice clarifying content and reflecting feelings. If you practice these skills every day, you will create more understanding in your relationship, and soon it will become second nature.

If you want to dive deeper, check out our newly released edition of Love Talk, available in our online store now!

What are your tricks for good communication in your relationship? Do you and your spouse have anything in particular you focus on to communicate well? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!


  • Linda says:

    What I heard in a Marriage Enrichment Conference years ago works if we remember to use it…that we should do “Reflective Listening!.” After your spouse says something, and there’s any doubt in your mind as to what they meant, say “What I heard you say was………” Many times that’s not what they meant to say at all! if that’s true, then they can make the corrections quickly, and you’ll be able to avoid conflict or hurt feelings immediately. If it was what they meant to say, and you have a problem with it, you can let them know you don’t share the same feelings or opinions’ and ask to talk about it later, if right then isn’t a good time.

  • Patrick says:

    My wife and I have joked in the past;
    me; what I heard you say was I take your breath away.
    her; what I said was you are suffocating me.

  • Paul says:

    Love both comments above. My wife and I do say to each other “what I think you said was…” in difficult/important discussions and, interestingly, our three grown children and their spouses think this is so cool when they are around. (It’s called parroting.) Another key thing is to observe the effect your words have upon your spouse — if all of a sudden they tense up after you’ve said something, you have either expressed it inartfully or they have not ”heard” what you intended to share. Time for a “redo” if that happens. We still get it wrong at times, and quick apologies are helpful, even if hard to make.

  • Marilyn Riner says:

    Where can I find the steps for Share Withholds?

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