Do you want to know how to improve communication in your marriage? Do you desire to have a marriage experience that is rich in connection? It probably won’t surprise you that arguably most marital issues stem from a lack of communication or a lack of tools to communicate well.
Sometimes we need the tools given to us. Other times, we just need a reminder and a nudge in the right direction. Below are 5 quick tips that will help you examine your current communication habits and improve communication within your marriage. Consider these tips as tools, reminders, and nudges as you move toward improved communication and a more meaningful marriage experience.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
5 Tips to Improve Communication in Your Marriage
1. Set Realistic Communication Goals Together
First, you should set realistic goals together. Communication can be one-directional. However, effective communication must be a back and forth process. In order to really improve communication in your marriage, you and your spouse must be on the same page.
Spoiler alert: improvement in communication must begin with…communication. Tell your spouse your desire to get better in this area and set goals together.
- Do you desire less confusion over scheduling?
- Maybe you want to be proactive in having more adventures as a couple or family?
- Perhaps you just want to argue less about menial things and have a more positive outlook on your marriage?
As a couple, talk about realistic goals and come up with one or two to start on. Put the emphasis on realistic, and be honest with each other. Make sure you both agree on the goal and what you can do to achieve that goal.
2. Be Intentional about Consistency in Communication
Another tip for improved communication is to be intentional about being consistent. The best way Ryan and I have found consistency in our communication is through scheduling. About half of you reading this just cringed at the thought of scheduling yet another thing. However, we noticed that when we didn’t schedule intentional communication, anything and everything got in the way of it.
Schedule Weekly Chats
For us, it looks like a weekly chat to connect and get on the same page. (Some have referred to this as “business meeting” or “state of the union,” but both of those sound dull to me. So I refer to it as a “chat.”) Our “chats” consist of the upcoming week’s schedule so we both know what to expect of each other.
We talk about anything particularly challenging or encouraging from the week past. This is also when we ask for certain prayer requests or ask specific things of each other. For example: can you confirm our dinner reservations for Saturday? Or can you take off a little early on Thursday to help with the kids’ activities?
Schedule Regular Dates
Consistency for us also means a weekly date that goes beyond the surface discussions of weekly calendars and responsibilities. We typically have ours during the day because of Ryan’s schedule. We have used this time the last few years to read and discuss books together over coffee.
But perhaps you’d rather enjoy a shared activity or cultural experience. Maybe you take turns spending your dates trying new things together. Regardless of what you do, use that time to enjoy one another’s company. The shared experiences will build your connection and therefore, communication.
I am very aware that there is a handful of you who don’t live lifestyles conducive to this kind of consistency. Maybe one of you travels a lot, or you are in a new season of life that you’re navigating. The next tip will be a good reminder for you, but I encourage you to keep consistency a part of your communication as best as you can, whenever you can.
3. Keep Your Season of Life in Mind
As stated above, some of you might be navigating life with a new baby, a suddenly full schedule, travel for work, aging parents, a serious illness, or a myriad of other life challenges. Communication methods might have to shift as you are in these seasons. Instead of getting frustrated that things “aren’t working anymore,” sit down and discuss your life.
What can/needs to change so that you can continue to get to know each other better and consistently during this season? You might need to set boundaries with family, friends, or work. It might mean saying “no” to something good so you can say “yes” to each other.
Remember: your spouse should be at the top of your list and vice versa. Continuing to pursue your spouse will greatly enhance your connection and therefore, communication.
4. Be an Open Communicator and Listener
Another tip to improve communication is to be an open communicator (being honest and vulnerable) as well as a good listener (eye contact, remove distractions, follow-up questions). This tip could be a whole article in and of itself. There are professionals who base their entire career on these particular communication skills.
The truth is, most of us would argue that we are good communicators, great ones even. But I think since you’ve made it this far in, you would agree that it’s probably not necessarily the case for either or both you and/or your spouse. Perhaps this tip requires a little self-reflection.
Take a moment and think about how open and honest you are with your spouse:
- Do you avoid having conversations that require vulnerability?
- When having conversations with your spouse, do you spend your time coming up with a rebuttal instead of listening with a goal of understanding?
- Do you find yourself agreeing with your spouse simply because it’s easier (at the time) than explaining your thoughts?
- Does your phone get more eye contact than your spouse?
Understanding your shortcomings in communication will help you get on the path to improved communication.
5. Practice Communication
The last tip for improved communication is to practice. Not everyone is a natural communicator. In fact, many of us communicate with a style that was modeled to us during childhood, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Therefore, many of us have practiced unhealthy communication in certain aspects of our marriage.
The best way to improve in communication is to first admit that you need improvement. Then, take the above tips and practice with your spouse. Practice should come with a lot of grace. Discuss this up front. Remind each other of your shared goals and that you are a team.
Grace Marriage Mission
Want a guide to deeper conversation with your spouse? Get a hold of The Marriage Experience: Weekly Conversation Starters to Build the Relationship You Desire. This was written by my husband Ryan and me out of a love for marriages and a knowledge that communication is at the heart of many marital issues.
In this book, we briefly guide you through our weekly “chats” up front. We then give you a short read followed by applicable conversation starters to get you practicing talking about deeper things with your spouse. The book contains 52 weeks of topics that stem from foundational marriage topics, the fruits of the spirit in marriage, friendship in marriage, and leaving a legacy through your marriage.
Whether you use the tips, tools, and nudges above or get The Marriage Experience, we pray the information you now have will bless your marriage.
Jenny Brown is co-author of The Marriage Experience: Weekly Conversation Starters to Build the Relationship You Desire.