How to Fix Communication Issues in a Marriage

Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC
6/17/2024

Have you and your spouse ever experienced a moment when unsaid grievances, feelings, or thoughts come spilling out in a wave of emotions that have been bottled for weeks or months? At the end of the conversation, you probably looked at each other and said, “why didn’t we talk about this sooner?”

The truth is, healthy communication is not easy to maintain. In this article we’ll cover:

  • Why communication is important in marriage 
  • What causes a lack of communication in marriage 
  • Tips to improve communication
  • Exercises for improving communication
  • How couples counseling can improve your marriage’s communication 

Why Is Communication Important in Marriage?

Even though marriage is an exciting relationship based on love and devotion, it's also a partnership that requires a lot of work.

As married folk, you’ll experience fun and difficult times, but no matter the season, you and your spouse will need to communicate:

  • Making financial decisions
  • Choosing how to raise a kid
  • Choosing when to start trying to have children
  • Setting boundaries with in-laws
  • Choosing what to eat
  • Making date plans

Without healthy communication, each of the decisions can become harder than they need to be. Healthy communication means active listening, conversations are to the point, and concerns aren’t exaggerated.

Healthy communication doesn’t only make conflict resolution easier, but it also builds trust within a marriage. You can learn other ways to build trust in a marriage by reading our article on the topic.

healthy communication in a marriage means active listening, conversations are to the point, and concerns aren't exaggerated

What Causes Lack of Communication in Marriage?

Healthy communication doesn’t come easily, and if left alone, communication will eventually begin to break down. Outside influences and internal disagreements can each work against communication within your marriage.

Here are some of the most common issues that cause a lack of communication in marriages.

Common issues that cause a lack of communication in a marriage are breach of trust, common disagreements, and busy schedules

Breaches of Trust

When trust is broken, communication doesn’t come freely. A break in trust means a degradation of safety within the marriage, and when that occurs there’s little reason to trust anything being communicated.

A lack of trust is one way that communication can begin to break down. If there’s an aura of distrust, spouses are much less likely to communicate.

Common Disagreements

Lack of communication doesn’t have to be around major issues. Everyday disagreements can cause a lack of communication.

Maybe you get home from work and all you want to do is relax on the couch. Well, your spouse also wants to relax on the couch after a hard day at work. So, who’s gonna cook dinner?

In this case, healthy communication can be used to find a solution that works for both of you—like ordering delivery. However, it may be easier for you to shut down communication and chill on the couch.

Busy Schedules

Both people in a marriage are busy, and If your marriage is like the majority of marriages, you both have full-time jobs.

Schedules can get hard to maintain. Maybe your spouse gets off work while you’re getting ready for work. Or you both have such stressful schedules that all you want to do when you get home is nothing.

Children can also make schedules busier and make it harder to have meaningful conversations.

Tips To Improve Communication in Your Marriage

You can fix communication issues in several ways. The tips below are intended for you to personally work on.Improving in these areas will make you better at communicating to your spouse.

Tips to improve communication in your marriage include avoiding exaggerations, working on being open to compromise, being empathetic, listening to your partner, and getting better at taking criticism.

Avoid Exaggerations, Criticisms, and Blaming

Language like, “you always do this” and “this is all your fault” is unhelpful. It diverts conversations away from the real problem and makes communication ineffective. 

Work at Being Open to Compromise

Marriage is a lot like jazz - “It’s conflict and it’s compromise.”. You work together to find solutions to problems that both of you can be happy with.

You can only work on yourself. Therefore, work on being more open to compromise. Being more flexible with your ideas and plans will help your marriage’s communication.

Be Empathetic

Empathy means taking on someone else's perspective and understanding how they feel. If you try to understand where your spouse is coming from you’ll be better able to respond in a helpful way.

Empathy improves your ability to communicate with your spouse constructively.

Listen to Your Partner

When your partner talks, engage with them intentionally. Active listening means putting your phone down and putting your energy into hearing what your partner is saying.

This also includes letting them talk without interruption. Give them the space to say what they need to say. Keep eye contact and focus on understanding what they’re saying. 

Get Better At Taking Criticism

Taking criticism doesn’t always feel good. It feels bad hearing that something you’ve been doing either isn’t helpful or flat-out hurtful.

Getting better at taking criticism will make your spouse more comfortable with bringing up problems with you. If they’re not worried about you lashing out, getting defensive, or ignoring them, they’ll be more likely to. It creates a more secure line of communication between you and your spouse.

Marriage Communication Exercises

Working on communication should happen before it’s made obvious that communication isn’t working.

Exercises are a great way for you and your spouse to work on your communication together. 

Mirroring

This exercise involves repeating words back to the person talking. This helps you and your partner understand that both of you are being heard.

To use this exercise make sure both of you are ready and available to practice the exercise. Once the two of you are ready one of you will make an “I” statement like “I felt hurt when you did X.”. The other will repeat the saying back like this “What I heard you say is that I hurt you when I did X. Is that correct?”

The person sharing can continue sharing or pass to their partner. During this exercise keep eye contact and don’t let your mind wander. 

Story Telling

This exercise is incredibly simple, but it does require active listening.

Before starting the communication exercise, choose a topic for your storytelling sessions. This could be childhood stories, significant moments, or any other topic.

Start the exercise with one partner sharing a story related to the chosen theme. They are encouraged to share as much detail as they can about the story. This includes feelings, details, and emotions.

While they share, their partner is to engage in active listening; not interrupting, and doing what they can to foster an environment of respect and security.

When the first person is done sharing, both partners will trade places.

Three and Three

This exercise requires partners to each write three things they love and three things they don’t love about the relationships. They do this separately in different locations and should spend time reflecting before writing.

Once both partners are done reflecting and writing they will come together to share their answers. While sharing, use active listening and validate what your partner has to say.

Improving Communication in Marriage With Couples Counseling

Couples therapy is a great way for married couples to work on their communication skills. The Gottman Method focuses on improving how couples interact, making it the perfect therapy method for fixing communication in a marriage.

Being married can be hard, and Inner Balance recognizes that. We strive to provide quality clinical mental health therapy that actually helps people. We do this by viewing you as a person, not a number. 

Attending couples counseling at Inner Balance you and your spouse will have more tools at your disposal to improve how you communicate. Request a consultation to begin the process of having a healthier marriage.

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Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC
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