You can have a seemingly perfect spouse, a big house, rewarding careers, money in the bank, and beautiful kids.
Yet somehow, your marriage is on the rocks because you don’t know how to talk to your spouse.
About 50% of participants in various studies on married couples have cited poor communication as a reason for divorce.1
A lack of communication that leads to conflict has also been cited by Couple Family Psychology as one of the top three precursors to divorce.2
If you aren’t sure where your marriage stands on this issue, look for the following signs that may point to communication issues.
Signs That Your Marriage Has Communication Issues
- Do you constantly trade not-so-subtle verbal jabs?
- Does every discussion feel like a powder keg ready to explode at the slightest disagreement?
- Are arguments a never-ending back-and-forth because either of you refuses to “lose”?
- Is each misunderstanding an invitation to bring up past mistakes?
Passive aggressiveness, stubbornness, and resentment are the more apparent signs of problematic communication.
Poor communication also shows in less hostile ways.
You could be avoiding talking to each other because you don’t feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings.
It will feel like you don’t even know who you’re living with anymore when you lack emotional intimacy long enough.
When it’s at the point where you’re two strangers at home, there’s very little chance that you’d be working toward mutually beneficial goals.
Talking Less Than The Way You Used To
Couples go through a stage of complacency and stagnation eventually.
They have become so comfortable with each other that taking some time to talk has become a chore.
They go on dates and hang out with each other just because they are used to these activities, but they no longer talk the way they used to when the relationship was just starting.
There is a simple solution when you feel that you and your partner are not communicating enough.
You need to make way for some time for just the two of you, so you can get a chance to talk about the state of your relationship and how you can become a better couple.
You can take a much-needed break from your boring jobs and have a road trip or go to the place you both have planned to travel to but never really had the courage to do so.
Jumping Into Conclusions Has Become A Habit
One of the biggest pitfalls in communication between couples is contempt before investigation.
Sometimes you find it easy to just jump to conclusions and assume you know what your partner is thinking and saying before asking questions to clarify things.
Misunderstanding words and actions are expected.
However, it is a disease slowly eating away in your relationship if misinterpretation is a habit.
Try asking questions and seeking to fully understand your partner’s message.
All You Have Is Superficial Communication
Small talk is necessary in a relationship because it allows both individuals to discuss other mundane stuff when they do not have anything important to talk about.
However, when all you have in your relationship is small talk or superficial communication, it will derail your relationship further.
Intimacy in a relationship stems from knowing your partner deeply.
If you prefer talking about non-issues instead of getting to know your other half deeper and better, what you get is nothing but a hollow relationship.
When You Always Have A Need To Be Right
You have had those times when you could not back down and raise a white flag in an argument.
You think you are right and would go through unnecessary lengths to prove that.
You pick a fight when things do not go your way, and you will continue to beat your partner until they surrender.
Let me tell you this:
There's not going to be a winner when you try to be right.
What Good Communication In Marriage Looks Like
A marriage with great communication has both sides:
Comfortably engaging in honest conversations and freely expressing perspectives with kindness.
They treat conflicts with care and consideration, not with a desire to dismiss, hurt, or manipulate.
They listen wholeheartedly and empathize.
Married couples that communicate well also make sure to verbalize the positive thoughts and feelings they have for each other.
They give compliments to one another and say affirmations of their love.
At the end of a talk, they are both satisfied.
They feel they’ve been listened to while understanding more about their partner.
Related: Healthy Marriage Checklist: How to Have a Successful Marriage
13 Tips For Improving Communication Your Communication Skills
So, do you have communication problems with your spouse?
Here are 13 practical tips to improve it.
1. Learn the cues that signal they want to have a conversation
So many things are constantly demanding our attention these days.
Work, social media, the deluge of content from streaming platforms, and kids that do deserve all the attention they can get.
You might miss your partner’s signal that they want to talk in all this noise.
Being ignored make them feel alone.
If they aren’t explicitly initiating a conversation, look for other cues such as physical contact.
Ask them ahead of time what those cues are so you know exactly what to look out for.
2. Listen and give them time to speak their mind
A conversation is people talking to each other, not at each other.
Let your partner finish.
Even if you feel the urge to interrupt.
You’re not just taking turns talking.
Listen to what they say, and consider what they’ve said when responding.
It shows that you are actually listening and not just hearing the words that come from their mouth.
3. Tell them exactly how you feel about something
What happens if you don’t say what you feel?
Your spouse starts assuming.
And that puts you in a dangerous place.
Because you have to risk that the assumptions are correct (which they rarely are).
People would rather say they’re okay when deep down, they’re not.
Or verbally agree to do something while their body language screams they don’t want to.
No matter how long you’ve been together, this is a massive problem for most couples.
Let your partner know directly instead of acting passive-aggressively.
It only builds tension and resentment when you dance around the subject.
4. Stick to the topic
You and your partner have both done things to hurt one another.
The more blatant the mistake, the harder it is to forget.
It’s tempting to bring up past mistakes in a heated argument:
Your spouse disapproves of something you did recently.
Hence, you get defensive and throw out something they did to turn the argument against them.
You may feel justified pointing out your partner’s history of mess-ups, but it only escalates the situation.
It also creates this toxic atmosphere where you keep score of all the times you hurt each other.
You’ll avoid specific topics out of fear that your past will be used as ammunition against you.
Resolve the one issue that’s in front of you right now.
5. Put yourself in their shoes
We see an argument more clearly through our unique perspective and the specific context we experience.
When you don’t get around to doing your chores, you can rationalize it if you’ve been having a stressful week at work.
Related: Division of Labor in Marriage: 10 Ways to Make it Fair
So it bothers you when your partner gets upset when they see a stack of dirty dishes or a pile of laundry overflowing in the basket while you’re kicking back on the couch and watching a movie.
Have you considered that they too might be having a rough time at their job lately?
But they still took time to sweep the floors or scrub the bathroom?
Empathy goes a long way to strengthening your communication skills.
6. Tone can make or break the conversation
How you say things is just as important as what you say.
You may think you’re making a valid point about your partner’s bad behavior.
Still, it can be hard for them to take it to heart if you are raising your voice or dripping with condescension.
You can emphasize how serious you are about a topic without shouting or being sarcastic.
Be direct and respectful.
7. Avoid hurtful language
In line with a respectful tone, avoid using words that only serve to attack or demean your partner.
You can disagree with them without saying something mean or dismissive like “that’s stupid” or “you have no idea what you’re talking about.”
8. Rephrase your sentences
The framing of your statements factors into how well your spouse will receive them.
- “You keep coming home late.”
- “You spend so much money on expensive things.”
- “You don’t take time to play with our kids.”
All of these may be true, but it’s putting a lot of weight on your partner.
It can quickly feel like you’re blaming them alone for your problems as a couple.
- “I worry about your safety whenever you come home late.”
- “I want us to be more conscious about our budget and savings.”
- “I feel like our kids don’t get quality time with you.”
It won’t feel like an attack on your partner.
9. Have daily face-to-face conversations
Communication is much like any other skill.
You can only get good at it if you do it often and regularly.
Agree on a time every day when you can talk to each other.
It can be about anything you want to talk about:
- your day
- your past
- your future
- the books you’ve been reading
- the food you’ve been craving
- the fun times you’ve had together or with loved ones
- the hardships you’ve gone through
10. Be fully immersed when having a conversation
A conversation isn’t simply people talking to each other.
They also give their full attention to one another through their body language.
Show that you are engaged when talking.
Get close to them and set your phone aside.
You can be affectionate too by putting your arm around them or touching them throughout the conversation.
11. Avoid using "always" and "never"
- “You always complain about my parents.”
- “You never do anything special for our anniversary.”
- “You never compliment me on my cooking.”
Using absolute terms like “always” and “never” pushes your partner on the defensive.
This also ties into bringing up your spouse’s past.
Either action on their own is already inflammatory.
Putting the two together with an “always” or “never” statement instills a full-fledged fight.
12. Don't let the small things fester
The little annoyances that couples tolerate during the honeymoon phase can build up throughout marriage.
If you find that your spouse does a small thing that grinds your gears, bring it up to them nicely.
Ignoring it now could mean a lot more headaches and heartbreak in the future once they’ve done it a million times on top of other more serious concerns.
13. Understand their communication style
Your spouse may not be good with words.
They might appear forceful or awkward when trying to say something meaningful to you.
Afford them the grace they deserve as the person you love and have committed your life to.
Open yourself to accept the effort when you see them trying to reach out.
It’s part of understanding how they communicate.
For communication to work, it has to go both ways:
- Learn to express yourself better.
- Allow your spouse the opportunity to get better at communicating.
Give both of you the space to improve your communication, and you’ll establish the foundation for a happier and healthier marriage.
Related: 15 Scientific & Practical Ways to Improve your Marriage