Communication In Marriage: Common Mistakes Couples Make, And Tips To Improve

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Linda asked her husband Dan if they can dine together that evening. Both were busy getting ready to work and Dan just nodded a ‘no’ without any explanation. They traveled to work together but Linda hardly talked anything as she was hurt by Dan’s curt response.

Dan realized his mistake, called Linda in the afternoon, and explained the reason behind his ‘no’. This simple communication cleared the air between the couple, ensuring a pleasant atmosphere once they returned home.

The misunderstanding may be as minor as the above example or something serious, but proper communication makes things smoother between a couple.

In this post, we tell you about the importance of communication in a marriage, the problems you might face and the dos and don’ts you need to follow.

Importance of Communication in a marriage

When two people in a relationship communicate, they share a unique language that builds itself with time. Here is why talking is important in a marriage:

1. Communication for connection

Communication is the way we express our emotions, feelings, and thoughts to another person to establish a connection. If you love your spouse and are vocal about it, that’s a beautiful gesture towards them. Being expressive is fundamental to good communication and good communication is one of the keys to a happy and healthy marriage.

2. No communication means no interest

If there is no communication between two partners, it implies a lack of attention towards each other. They are not interested to tell or know about each other. It is important to stay in communication, not only in general but also paying special attention transitions like saying good morning, goodbye, how was your day, etc.

[ Read: Arguments In A Relationship ]

3. Strengthens trust, respect, and honesty

Strengthens trust, respect, and honesty

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Some things annoy you, but you have to be honest to yourself and your spouse. Hence, listening and telling both are imperative in a relationship. When you give and receive feedback in a positive way, it builds trust, and your partner will respect you for your honest communication. And this will prevent any build up of negative thoughts toward your partner to prevent bigger arguments in the future.

4. Minimizes confusion

Even after decades of marriage, you cannot correctly predict what your partner is thinking. Couples tend to ‘assume’ without having a discussion. It is, therefore, necessary to express your thoughts and feelings openly and positively. Once you get into the habit of effective communication, it becomes easier to talk and share. Always, keep asking questions about the preferences of your partner rather than assuming or attempting to “read their mind.”

5. Enhances marital satisfaction

Couples who consistently communicate with each other reach a higher level of marital satisfaction. Satisfied couples have a more peaceful relationship as they quarrel less often and do not jump to conclusions against their partner when things go wrong.

Communication need not always be about speaking sweet words or complimenting each other. It can be a serious discussion, some simple facial expressions or physical gestures.

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Different Types of Effective Communication in a marriage

Let us see how different types of communication help strengthen your marriage:

  1. Informal conversation: These are the silly and everyday things that happen in your daily life and become a part of your conversation with your partner. These simple conversations establish a strong bond between you and your spouse as they give you the opportunity to laugh together and love each other better.
  1. Meetings: This is like a business meeting where you take a formal tone to discuss your finances, investments, future plans and also delegate house tasks and responsibilities. They involve planning and sharing of work.

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  1. A conversation of significance: You and your spouse should talk about things other than your immediate lives or responsibilities. Sometimes, you can have an insightful discussion with your partner about your hopes, fears, dreams or desires. You need to tell them about a problem you are facing at work or with somebody in the family. These topics cannot be raised casually. You need to prepare the context, and bring your spouse into the conversation. It means it requires careful use of words and expressions.

You must have a balance of these three to ensure that your communication is effective. However, real-life instances are not this clearly demarcated and structured. Every couple makes a communication mistake at least once.

[ Read: Insecurity And Jealousy In A Relationship ]

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Common Communication mistakes in a marriage and how to address them

1. Shouting at your spouse

You have offered to pick your wife from office. You wait by the roadside for an hour and then realize that she has forgotten about the arrangement. You are mad at her.

When you are angry, you let it out by yelling at your partner. Screaming is an easy means to release the pent-up emotions but has a long-lasting effect on the receiving person. Through shouting, you are only spreading immense negativity and tension.

Even if you have a valid reason to get angry, your spouse will only take the negative message and might refuse to see the reason behind it.

How to solve this: Control your urge to shout. Remind yourself about the unpleasantness it might cause at home. If you find yourself yelling, pause for a minute or two. Let the overwhelming feelings pass before you talk again. The point of communication is to make your partner understand the folly. So, have patience while doing that and you won’t have to regret it later.

Shouting at your spouse

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2. Talking about successes and failures

You and your wife were both due for a promotion. While you got it, she couldn’t make it to the next level. You come home and start bragging about your success while trying to belittle her performance.

You can be competitive with your spouse in a basketball match or a video game, but not about one’s achievements over the other’s failure. If you are bragging about your achievements over your spouse’s failure all the time, then you are communicating everything wrong.

How to solve this: Realize that marriage is not a competing ground. Just like the wheels of a bicycle, you and your spouse need to move in one direction and in sync with each other. The successes and failures are both a joint effort because marriage is not about one-upmanship. If your spouse has succeeded in their career, celebrate together and if they have faced a failure, be with them. Remember that you are on the same team as your spouse not on opposing teams and should always want to be cheering each other on.

3. Marriage is more about Me than us

Your husband is down with high fever and stays back home. When you come home, he expects you to ask how he is feeling and show some concern and care. But as soon as you meet him, you begin talking about the new dress you bought.

It is absolutely fine to share your feelings, aspirations, and excitement with your spouse because they are the most important person in your life. If your union becomes all about your needs, your wishes, your ways, and your feelings, then those of your partner get piled up silently and that is not a positive sign.

How to solve this: It is your duty to listen to what your spouse has to say about themselves. Take the initiative and ask questions about your partner’s work, friends, night-out, their well-being, etc. When your partner realizes that you are making an effort, they will open up and respond to your actions.

Even if you are not making any of these mistakes and your communication is good, you may want to make it better by following some simple dos and don’ts.

[ Read: How To Impress Your Husband ]

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10 Dos and Don’ts For Effective Communication Between Couples

Here are some tips to improve your communication in marriage:

  1. Talk to each other intentionally. Make it a point to spend 20 to 30 minutes with each other every day. Even if you do not have anything important to talk, find some silly, funny or even grave topic to have a discussion. That way, you understand their point of view and they understand yours.
  1. Use less of “You” statements. Do not constantly blame your partner for everything that goes wrong. Use less of, “You didn’t listen to me,” “I missed the opportunity because of you,”etc. This will turn off your partner from any conversation and your communication may take a downhill. Therefore, keep the feedback constructive and make them feel positive about it.
  1. Be specific. Talk about the issues at hand, and be particular about the things that you would want to change. Do not go overboard and make a generalization as broad as, “This is what you do every time”; it is not helpful, and could be harmful.
  1. Avoid mind reading. Don’t try to read the mind of your partner and assume things. It is very disappointing when you misread them, especially when you think that you know more than they do.
  1. Never start a conversation with a taunt or nag. Do not nag your partner for some wrong they did some time ago. You don’t have to bring the past back every time you have a point to tell your spouse. Everyone wants to be loved and appreciated by their partners. Do not taunt them by dragging their family or friends into your conversation.
  1. More tolerance. Although you are living together, you both have individual choices. If your partner likes a sport or dish that you don’t, then don’t start complaining about it. Be tolerant and respect their likes and dislikes. If you do this, your partner will follow suit.
  1. Don’t take online chats/calls for granted. If you think that as you are constantly chatting with your partner on Facebook and Whatsapp, you don’t have to talk to them directly, then that’s far from the truth. In many situations, these online chat mediums might lead to the misunderstanding of your partner’s circumstances or intentions. Communicating via mobile is convenient, but it limits the quality of a conversation.
  1. Express conflicting emotions in a constructive way. It is normal to feel bitter and disappointed at times, and you need to communicate your feelings. But how do you communicate those feelings? Can you be rude? You can’t. The reception of your feedback depends on how articulating you are.

So, instead of saying, “Why do you have to work late every Friday? You don’t care about me and my plans. I have to cancel it every time!” say, “I am really disappointed that you are working late again on a Friday. I wish you had given some time to us.” To have a constructive conversation, you need to give proper shape to your negative feelings.

  1. Listen without being defensive. If a marriage has to be successful, both the partners need to hear complaints about each other without getting defensive. This is much more difficult than learning to express negative feelings effectively.
  1. Freely express positive feelings. We tend to let our negative feelings out much more than positive ones. It is essential for the health of your marriage that you affirm your partner. Appreciate, be affectionate, admire, approve and respect them. All these are small investments that you’re making for your marriage. For every negative feeling, have five positive conversations. But if your complaints are exceeding your compliments, your words are basically fruitless.

[ Read: Things You Should And Shouldn’t Say To Your Husband ]

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Communication is much more complicated than people realize. It is challenging to make the listener understand it with the same intention as you tell them. But once you establish a clear communication channel with your partner, it builds trust between you both, clears any misunderstandings, and makes you love each other better than before. Listen with empathy.

How well do you communicate with your spouse? Let us know in the comment section below.

1. Partners: A guide to successful adult relationships, Relationship Australia:
2. Strong Families: Tips for Healthy parenting; National Resource Center for Healthy Marriage and Families
3. Gottman, J.M. (1994). Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. New York: Fireside.
4. Victor William Harris; 9 Important Communication Skills for Every Relationship; University of Florida
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Alicia Spomer

Alicia Spomer is the founder of Life Anchors Counseling, a private practice that specializes in the treatment of mental health in children, adolescents, and young adults. She is a Nationally Certified Counselor with a masters in professional counseling as well as a post master’s degree in child & adolescent disorders from Grand Canyon University. With 10 years of experience in... more

sanjana lagudu

Sanjana did her graduation in Pharmacy and post graduation in management. It was during her first job, she recognized her skills in writing and began working as a freelance writer. Later, she completely moved into content writing and began working as a full-time content writer. Sanjana's articles in MomJunction cover topics related to new parenting and relationships. A fitness enthusiast... more