Cracking the Code – Tips For Improving Communication In Marriage


    6 Min Read


    Sara: “Ugh!”

    Malik: “What?”

    Sara: “Nothing. Never mind. Leave me alone.”

    Malik rolls his eyes and returns to scrolling on his phone.

    No, this isn’t a snippet of the latest romcom script. It’s a real-life example of a couple desperately needing to improve communication in their marriage.

    For some of you, this may read more like last night’s conversation before bed.


    You’re not alone if you can relate to this exchange between Malik and Sara. Communication problems are one of the most significant issues in nearly every marriage.

    This means that improving communication in marriage is crucial to keeping your marriage healthy and strong.

    But just how do you go about that?

    If you’re already having a problem communicating, how do you effectively communicate the need for better communication?

    Although it takes work and doesn’t happen overnight, improving communication in marriage is possible and not as difficult as you might think.


    Recognizing The Signs That Communication In Your Marriage Needs Improving

    If you’re thinking, “Eh, we’re not really like Sara and Malik, so we’re probably fine,” you may want to look a little deeper.

    Most marriages begin to experience communication issues within the first few years. The signs of those issues can differ from relationship to relationship, depending on the dynamics.

    They generally don’t occur all at once, but rather creep in slowly until the poor communication habits feel normal.

    They’re not. And if they don’t change, they’ll eventually become a catalyst for larger problems to take over and disrupt the marriage. It’s not an exaggeration to say poor communication is the root of many divorces.

    So, if any of the following sounds familiar, you, like Malik and Sara, probably need to work to improve communication in your marriage.

    These are all signs that communication in your marriage needs to be improved.


    Why Communication In Marriage Breaks Down

    Before you do the work to improve communication in your marriage, it’s essential to know why it broke down in the first place. Understanding what factors contributed to your challenges allows you to make changes at the root level and will help ensure you don’t repeat the same mistakes.

    Dr. Kurt sees works with couples struggling with communication on a weekly basis. He has to follow his advice too. According to him,

    When couples come to me for marriage counseling and I ask what they want to work on, improving communication always comes up. Even if what got them looking for help was something bigger, like a spouse cheating or drinking too much. Everyone struggles with communication at times. I have to work on it with my wife and I teach communication skills. The reality is that it can be hard to do. As a result, we have to always be thinking about how well we're communicating and be willing to learn and adjust. Those who don't end up having strained or broken relationships. It's just a fact of life that good communication takes work."

    Below are the biggest contributors to communication problems between partners:

    • Busyness. One of the biggest contributors is just life. Work, kids, bills, etc. all add up. Over time, you can feel like life is leading you rather than you leading your life. And what suffers in this case? Yep, communication with your partner.

    • Becoming too comfortable. When you’ve been together for a while, it’s easy to become comfortable with your partner. Sometimes, it’s too comfortable. Partners can begin to take each other for granted, stop checking in with each other, and stop working to stay close.

    • Assumptions. Hand-in-hand with being too comfortable is making assumptions. You assume your partner knows what you want or need, or they assume you know what they’re thinking and their motivations. This is dangerous territory. Even if some assumptions are on point when they occur, the deviation from reality that comes with not checking in will become greater and greater with time.

    • External stressors. Work pressure, extended family, aging parents, and any number of other external factors can create stress that sends you so deeply into your own world that you forget you share that world with someone else. And while you’re fighting the fight on your own, you’re also alienating the person who should be able to help and support you.

    • Unresolved conflict. This is both the cause of communication struggles and the result. As a cause, unresolved conflict can create a chasm between you and your partner that fuels more conflict.

    • Fear of honesty and conflict.

    “I don’t want to tell him. He’ll be so mad.”

    “Telling her will just make her worry.”

    He’ll think I’m crazy if I let him know how I feel about this.”

    “She’ll be disgusted with me if I tell her what really turns me on.”

    These are common sentiments in many marriages, driven by both fear of rejection and conflict. Most don’t realize that the reaction you fear is less damaging than the communication you’re destroying and the dishonesty that results.


    If these circumstances exist, it’s time to improve communication in your marriage.

    Steps For Improving The Communication In Your Marriage

    So, you know what it looks like and why it happens, but how can you improve communication in your marriage?

    There are five critical practices for righting the ship regarding marital communication.

    1. Active Listening

    Communication is not just about speaking. It’s equally, if not more, about active listening which is listening with your full attention – looking your partner in the eye, paying attention to the words, and showing your interest through your body language.

    The foundation of a healthy marriage lies in the ability of partners to truly hear each other. Practice active listening by giving your partner your full attention, refraining from interruptions, and demonstrating empathy.

    Active listening helps you create a safe environment for open and honest communication.

    1. Express needs and feelings by using “I” statements

    One standard stumbling block in communication is the use of accusatory language. Shift the focus from blame to personal expression buy using “I” statements.

    Instead of saying, “You never listen,” try expressing your feelings with statements like, “I feel unheard when I sense you’re distracted during our conversations.”

    This approach helps to avoid defensiveness and encourages your partner to understand your emotions.

    1. Express goals and efforts using “we” statements.

    It can be very easy to tell your partner what you think they need to do. “You need to listen more,” “You have to make time for me.” But the effort needs to be made by both of you.

    So, use collaborative language when discussing goals and the work it will take to achieve them. “We need to make time for each other,” or “We each need to listen to what the other is saying.”

    1. Establish rituals that create connection

    Daily life can make it challenging to connect on a deeper level. We focus on the administrative aspect of life and the relationship, leaving little time for real connection.

    Establishing rituals of connection means carving out intentional time for meaningful conversations. Whether it’s a weekly date night, morning coffee routine, or daily check-in, these rituals provide a dedicated space for partners to share thoughts, concerns, or just build connection.

    Doing this will improve communication in your marriage, but to work it requires consistency. This means prioritizing these rituals even when it’s inconvenient.

    1. Agree on strategy and accountability.

    Improving communication in marriage won’t happen if it’s a one-sided effort. Both partners must agree on the need for improvement and the strategies for achieving it. And they must agree on measures for keeping each other accountable.

    Accountability doesn’t sound like blame or accusations, though. Instead, it’s gentle reminders of the benefits of making the effort and the positive changes you may have already seen.


    If your communication hurdles seem insurmountable, seeking professional help can be a game-changer.

    Marriage or marriage counseling offers a neutral and supportive environment where both partners can explore underlying issues and develop effective communication strategies. A professional counselor can provide tools to navigate conflicts, improve understanding, and rebuild trust.

    What To Take Away

    If you’re reading this you likely realized some time ago that communication in your marriage needed improving. Rest assured, you’re in good company.

    When it comes to communication, very few marriages get it right all the time. Every couple needs to take some time to tune up their communication game at some point.

    So, if you find communication in your marriage needs improvement, remember the following things:

    • Symptoms of communication problems vary from couple to couple and aren’t always what you’d think. If you’re having problems, stop and consider whether what you’re experiencing could be made better through improved communication.

    • Identifying the factors impacting your communication’s effectiveness will allow you to make changes that help you avoid repeating the same mistakes.

    • 5 key practices can help improve communication in marriage. If you’re using these practices and still not seeing the changes you’d like, consider enlisting the help of a professional marriage counselor.

    Even if you feel that your communication is adequate, investing the time in improving communication in your marriage is well worth the effort. It’s often the secret to the longest and happiest marriages.


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