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  • Writer's pictureChristina Neri, LCSW

Effective Communication Techniques for Couples: Tips from Marriage Therapists

Updated: Jun 26


a couple who needs to practice Effective Communication

The numbers don't lie: Unfortunately, about half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Whether that's because of infidelity, conflict, or simply growing apart, it can be frustrating to feel like your marriage is not working out.


One of the keys to resolving your problems before they become big issues is effective communication. The way you speak and act towards your partner has more impact than you think.


Do you want to learn more about how you can solve your relationship difficulties and avoid a communication breakdown? Read on to get the full scoop.


Pay Attention to Body Language

Body language is nonverbal, but that doesn't mean it isn't important. It can be one of the most vital elements of effective communication.


Keep an eye on your partner's body language when you engage in tough conversations.

When they give signs that they feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed, it may be time to take a break.


If you work with a couples therapist, he or she may go over body language with you if you're new to reading other people. There are a few things to look out for specifically from your partner.


You or your partner may be really angry if you use body language like:

  • rubbing temples

  • heavy breathing

  • pointing fingers

  • wringing hands


When you approach your partner, make sure their body language shows they're open. If they don't want to talk, they might not feel comfortable expressing it directly.

For instance, they may cross their arms and legs, a physical sign they're closed off from further conversation. Pointing their feet away from you signals they are ready to bolt at the first chance.


Effective communication involves regularly checking in on each other's body language. Even if you feel like the conversation is going well, you should still make sure your partner is completely comfortable, and vice versa.


Focus on Mutual Respect

Respect is huge in any relationship, but it is even more important when you suffer a communication breakdown. Always remember that you need to respect your partner during a conflict.


However, respect goes both ways. If you don't feel like your partner respects you, you might need to step away from the conversation. Let your partner know that you're feeling disrespected so they know what they need to work on before you take further steps.


Compromise is also a form of mutual respect. Coming to a compromise on a major issue may benefit both parties and put the problem to bed.


Take a Breather

Sometimes the best solution is to simply take a break from each other. Maybe this can be for a day, or even longer if needed.


An extreme version of taking this type of break is a trial separation. This could involve going on a trip with friends or one of you staying in a hotel for a few days to give the other breathing room.


During this time, focus on things that bring you joy, self-care, and relaxation. However, you should also think about what you can say or do to have more effective communication with your partner once you return.


Bring in a Third Party

If you can't see eye to eye on a problem, it may be best to loop in a professional. Sometimes, this can be a mediator whose job it is to sit and listen and come up with a solution. Most often, marriage therapy is the solution people gravitate toward.


A marriage therapist can listen to you and your partner talk to each other and observe your communication strategies. It may take a few sessions for him or her to figure out the best path forward.


In addition, you may require individual therapy with a professional. This is a private space to discuss your relationship difficulties. The therapist will also benefit because he or she can see your separate points of view without conflict.


The time frame for seeing a mental health professional can vary wildly. Sometimes, it takes a few sessions to establish the problems and work on a solution. For other couples, ongoing issues may require appointments for longer periods.


Validate Each Other's Feelings

No matter how you or your partner feels, all feelings are valid. Respect each other's feelings so you can better understand where the other person is coming from.


If you go to marriage therapy, your therapist may encourage you to use "I feel" statements." Rather than accusing your partner of something, approach the problem by first describing how you feel. Then, tell them what they did to make you feel that way.


After that, explain why you feel the way you do, and what you would like them to do about it. This is a structured way to talk about feelings without flinging accusations at the other party.


Support Claims With Facts

If you make a claim, make sure you have the evidence to back it up. Otherwise, you will sound resentful and accusatory towards your spouse or partner, with nothing to show for it.


For instance, you may feel like your partner is cheating on you. You can ask them directly about it, but if they deny it and there is no evidence, leave it alone. Further pestering them about it could lead them to cheat.


Avoid Mean Language

Rude language and insults are two tickets to a full-on communication breakdown. Hitting below the belt is hurtful and can even cause lasting damage if you aren't careful with how you speak to your partner.


Before you say something mean, take a moment and think about if it's appropriate for the conversation. Often, it will just make your relationship difficulties worse.


Try These Effective Communication Strategies Today

If you're stuck in a rut with your partner, you shouldn't have to feel this way much longer. With these effective communication tips, you can make more progress in your relationship.


Are you ready to begin your journey to a successful marriage or relationship? Maverick Marriage Therapy is here to help.


We have the skills and expertise you need. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment and get started with therapy.


 

FAQ

1. Why is body language important in communication?

Body language provides nonverbal cues that can reveal true feelings and emotions, which are crucial for understanding and effective communication in relationships.

2. How can mutual respect improve communication?

Mutual respect fosters a safe environment for open dialogue, ensuring that both partners feel valued and understood, which is essential during conflicts.

3. What should we do if a conversation becomes too heated?

Taking a break can provide time to cool off and reflect, preventing escalation and allowing for a more productive conversation later.

4. When should we consider involving a third party in our communication issues?

If you and your partner struggle to resolve conflicts on your own, involving a marriage therapist can provide objective insights and effective communication strategies.


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