7 Communication Tips That Can Save Your Marriage

7 Communication Tips That Can Save Your Marriage | KeatingBartlett.com

One of the keys to a successful marriage is good communication skills. I admit, I’ve always been the queen of horrible communication. I hold grudges, I’m bad at listening, I always have to have the last word, I get heated easily. These aren’t the best traits to have if you want to be able to communicate effectively in your marriage, but I’m working on it. Zack’s actually not a whole lot better at it than I am. He’s a tad better at listening and is a little better at keeping his cool. But overall, we both completely suck at it. Which actually feels good to say because I’ve heard from many friends that our marriage looks pretty “perfect”. But we’re not. Communication is our biggest weakness. Thankfully, we both recognize this and it’s something we’re consistently working on. And we’ve come a long way these last few years. Communicating effectively takes time, patience, and a lot of practice.  Luckily there are tons of tips out there that can help you communicate better and save your marriage. Here’s what we’re doing to improve communication in our own marriage:

LEARN HOW TO LISTEN.

You’ll never know how your spouse is feeling if you don’t take the time to listen to them. It’s taken me a while to learn that it’s not always best to have the last word in an argument or to get every single point across. Believe it or not, the world doesn’t actually revolve around you. Your problems and feelings aren’t the only ones that matter, especially in a marriage. So sometimes it’s best to just take a step back and listen to what your spouse has to say. Both of you should have the chance to express how you’re feeling.

Not only do you hear how your partner is feeling, you can also hear what they’re actually saying. And this goes for even basic, everyday situations. For example, when Zack asks me “what’s for dinner?”, I used to hear it as “why haven’t you made dinner yet?” which isn’t what he’s saying at all. He’s simply letting me know he’s hungry and wondering what I’m making, yet this can easily turn into an argument on any given day. This would instantly put me in a mood because it came across as a bit pushy. And I know I’m not the only one out there who misinterprets simple statements like this. Especially after a long, stressful day. So take a moment to really listen to your partner.

CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE.

You need to learn how to look at situations from your spouse’s point of view. How do you think the situation makes them feel? How are they viewing and interpreting the situation? Sometimes an issue that seems small to you, might seem big to them. If you can’t understand where they’re coming from, then politely and calmly ask them to explain it to you in a way that you’ll understand. Understanding their point of view will help you move one step closer to finding a solution to your issue.

EXPRESS YOUR NEEDS AND WANTS CLEARLY.

It’s important to be direct about the things you want and need in your marriage. I admit, I used to be horrible at this one. It was a struggle for me in the start of our marriage. But you can’t always expect your husband to figure everything out on his own. Men typically don’t catch onto your subtle hints and they definitely don’t like having to solve a puzzle to figure out what exactly is wrong. They’d much rather let it go than waste their time trying to figure out your brain. So if something needs be changed then say something about it. If you need something, then be direct and ask for it. Don’t keep all your thoughts, feelings, and opinions to yourself or nothing will ever change.

NEVER TALK DOWN TO YOUR PARTNER.

Your spouse should be your equal. Never talk down to them and make them feel small. Don’t tell them you hate them or make them feel inadequate, unappreciated, and not good enough. Never threaten divorce, even in the heat of the moment. Think before speaking. Your spouse is your teammate. At the end of the day, you and your spouse want the same thing: a strong, successful marriage. You want to be together and make your marriage work. So it’s important to lift them up when they’re feeling down and continue to love them through your arguments. Never forget that you’re on the same team.

LEARN YOUR SPOUSE’S LOVE LANGUAGE.

This is crucial to all relationships. This alone changed our marriage in so many ways. It’s a lifesaver! In short, there are five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch (you can take the quiz to find out your love language here). Everyone shows love in a different way and sometimes spouses may have different love languages. I recognize love through words of affirmation and physical touch, whereas Zack recognizes it more through acts of service and quality time (although our versions of “quality time” are rather different sometimes).

Related: How the 5 Love Languages Changed My Marriage

Taking the time to read the book and take the quiz really opened my eyes to why we weren’t always on the same page in our marriage. Not that our marriage was failing or anything, but we just weren’t connecting sometimes and it really left me feeling exhausted and out of options some days. The moment I started researching the love languages, everything fell right into place. Now, over three years later, we still keep this in mind every single day and are consistently working on it. It’s helped our communication tremendously. So if you’ve never looked into this before, then I suggest you do that this week!

CHANGE YOUR WORDING.

Sometimes all it takes it better wording to get your point across. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If your spouse isn’t understanding how you’re feeling or what the issue is, then maybe you need to try expressing it in a different way. Rather than saying “I hate it when you ____”, try saying “When you do _____, it makes me feel ______”. This can make a huge difference in your communication.

TALK FACE TO FACE.

Having important conversations through a text message is never a good idea.  It can be so easy to misinterpret a text message and have it lead to the next big argument. You can’t hear your spouse’s tone of voice or read their body language. There have been countless times where I’ll misinterpret what Zack says through a text message and turn it into an argument. I’ll think he’s moody or mad at me when he’s really just busy at work and can’t text much. If you’re able to, have the conversation face to face.

What tips do you have for communicating effectively in a relationship?

SaveSave

Follow:
  • Jen

    These are really great tips, communication is the key to a successful and healthy marriage.

  • I couldn’t agree with these more if I had written them myself. I recently went through a divorce and one of the main issues in our marriage was the the communication broke down. I couldn’t tell you when or how but it did. It hit the point where I could tell something was wrong, but I figured he was just stressed with work so I didn’t push the issue. Turns out he was unhappy but didn’t know how to tell me. Apparently he had been unhappy for almost a year but was just waiting for it to fix itself. After a month of him being weird I finally asked him and at that point he was ready to be done and there wasn’t anything I could do to fix it. I always tell people they can take or leave my advice when it comes to relationships, but if they can learn one thing from my failed marriage learn that communication is so important! Great post! Thanks for sharing.

  • I needed this today. Great reminders, thank you!

  • Perfect advice. I can tell you after 43 years of marriage . . . this works. Blessings to you!

  • These are all good tips! The one thing I would add would be to have a weekly meeting. Never wait until it is important to talk about because that usually always happens when other stress is involved. Having weekly meetings to talk about everything makes the important conversations easier and slide right into place and something to look forward to instead of fear.

    • Thanks Amanda! I agree that a weekly check-in is a great idea! Since we’re currently long distance, we try to do more of a daily check-in whenever possible. It’s a great way to keep us both on the same page while so far away 🙂

  • yes yes yes! I LOVE that you point out the love languages, because I think that one is so very important

    • Thanks so much Caroline! 🙂 the love languages are such a game-changer for any relationship. Even those where communication isn’t typically an issue. It’s helped so much to learn more about my husband on that level.

  • Mary Leigh

    These are really excellent tips! I have found that learning to express what you want, need, and mean clearly but also with words that uplift and encourage rather than tear down is essential! I love every single one of these tips. They are ones that we also try to follow in our marriage!

    • Thanks Mary! That’s such a great point! Sometimes it can be more challenging to express your needs or wants clearly and in an uplifting way when you’re in the heat of the moment. It definitely takes some practice. The more you work on it, the easier it’ll be to communicate effectively in that manner in the future without having to think about it first.

  • I think that changing perception really matters. There are always 2 sides and we should try to understand that. Great post! 🙂

    • I completely agree! That’s actually one of the many reasons why we don’t tend to involve friends and/or family in our marital issues. If I’m talking to my parents about an issue I’m having, then chances are they’re only getting one side to the story which makes their advice even more biased. So learning to see a situation from your spouse’s point of view can be so helpful in any given situation.

  • Jen

    Having important conversations through text is never a good idea, you just never can tell the other persons tone. These are great tips!

    • Exactly Jen! Although sometimes with being military spouses, we don’t always have a choice there, now do we? haha we actually got pretty good at communicating through text when he was in Japan. But overall our conversations in person are so much more effective than those we have through text. If it’s possible, big conversations shroud always be had face to face.

  • Great tips! The 5 Love Languages is an extremely valuable book for couples!

    Another piece of advice? Sometimes you just have to learn to bite your tongue. Not everything you feel needs to be said, especially if it’s mean-spirited or hurtful. When we’re having an argument and I really want to say something as a retort, I ask myself, “Is this going to help or make things worse?”

    • That’s such a great point Lisa! I admit, learning when to keep my mouth shut has been challenging for me. I was never good at it as a child or teen either (my parents can back me up there haha). But knowing when you should and shouldn’t say something is so important. It prevents you from saying things you don’t mean or things that aren’t relevant to the issue at hand.

  • The 5 Love Languages was one of the books we read for our marriage counseling! It definitely helped us get to know each other better and helps us communicate more effectively 🙂 Great tips!

    • Thanks Vanessa! I’m glad you found the love languages as helpful as we have. It makes it so much easier for me to understand why he does certain things and helps me to find new ways to connect with him when I’m feeling a slight disconnect. I refer back to it sometimes whenever necessary.

  • Patty Gordon (Resting Mom Face

    I love this article except it totally is null and void in my relationship. My husbands father and mother from what I could tell tortured each other emotionally. When I do most of the things you say to do I get an answer back. “Get over it,” or “suck it up”. And yet when hubby needs to vent or voice his opinion the world has to stop and revolve around him. I’m a strong enough woman to understand the correlation between the disfunction of his parents and how he acts towards me, but it’s tiring to be met with such resistance when I feel like I’m trying to make us better and he doesn’t give a second thought about it. His answer to fixing a fight is the meathead approach: let’s have sex! My life is like one of those cliche after school specials about a couple in crisis. It’s come to the point where I do the best I can, encourage when I can, but really I see my fate before me. People don’t change and when all the relationships he’s known have been disfunctional to him what we have is normal and I’m the crazy one thinking it needs to be any different.

  • This is all great advice!!

  • Sarah Jean

    “When you do _____, it makes me feel ______”. has been so useful in my marriage!

  • Elizabeth Ghekiere

    #2 is so important! But it’s also the easiest to forget!

    • I completely agree! It can be so easy to focus solely on yourself and your own needs when you’re in an argument. But your needs aren’t the only ones that matter so it’s crucial to see situations from your spouse’s point of view so you can better understand the issue at hand.

  • I SO agree about the love language! It’s so funny when you really learn how your spouse wants to be loved versus how you want to be loved. What seems like such a silly concept is actually so critical to communicating. I love these tips girl!

    • Thanks Katherine! I agree! It was actually really weird to me when I found out we didn’t show love the same way. It sounds naive, but I guess I had never thought that there were different ways of showing it. So that was a huge game-changer for us.

  • Kelsie Kleinmeyer

    These are so so huge! I think changing our perspectives and listening are both so important. Great tips!

    • Listening is definitely my weakness haha you can ask my parents. I’m a talker so I’ve never been good at the listening portion. But I’ve gotten better about it over the years. It’ll be something I’m continuously working on.

  • Stacey York

    Great insights Keating! I am a huge fan of Love Languages with my husband, friends & kids. Super easy to understand and makes a world of difference in relationships.

    • Thanks Stacey! It really opens your eyes a bit when you start to look at all the different ways of showing and receiving love. And it’s not just marriages, it’s the sam concept with your family and friends as well. I find this to be an issue between myself and my mom as well, but unfortunately she’s not big on taking action and changing things. So that’s a dead end lol but it’s helped a lot in understanding my marriage and even in understanding my relationship with my dad and finding ways to connect with him as well.

  • Marriage is hard work. Even when your marriage is doing well in every way, it’s still so important to find new ways to improve and make your marriage stronger. Like you said, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your marriage. It shows that you take your marriage seriously enough to make sure it’s always working and improving.