Is effective communication in marriage an art or a science? The correct answer is yes, and that’s not just a politically correct Canadian response!

Turn down the noise

It’s important for couples to understand that effective communication in marriage has a mathematical side. In any conversation, there is, of course, a sender, a receiver and a message. But often – just like in a bad phone or Internet connection – there can be a lot of static or noise interference.

Noise can be created by disturbances in our physical surroundings – blaring TV, phone ringing, dog barking. Couples seeking to improve their communication process should remove any physical noise factors, find a quiet place away from disturbances, and then begin sending and receiving the message.

A good habit for couples to embrace is finding a quiet place in the house where you can have an uninterrupted conversation for at least 10 minutes. This simple daily ritual can reap great dividends in marital understanding and satisfaction.

But noise can also be created by our own poor communication habits or quirks. Perhaps we speak in vague terms instead of being precise. Perhaps we intimidate our partner by raising the volume level. Oftentimes we are not even aware of how we may be creating noise in our attempt at conversation. Couples should identify communication patterns that hinder, rather than help, conversations and then try to hold each other accountable to not engaging in those negative default behaviours.

The art of communication

But good communication is also an art, isn’t it? Like good music, it requires sensitivity to melody, rhythm and harmony.

  • Couples who enjoy effective communication try to "sing" a strong melody by saying what they mean, and meaning what they say.
  • They also try to stay in good rhythm with each other. When a conversation ventures into the realm of emotion, they know how to slow the tempo down and avoid rushing.
  • Good conversations also require couples to work in harmony by observing body language and tone.

Build each other up

God highly values good communication in marriage. In Ephesians 4:29, we read, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Do our conversations build up our spouse or tear them down?

How would you assess your communication as a couple? It’s important to address both the math and music of communication. When we talk clearly and listen well, it results in knowing and being known, and this is the true reward of healthy communication.

Laird Crump was the director of marriage ministry at Focus on the Family Canada.

© 2010 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.  

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