It’s all too easy for marital communication problems to fester and turn into resentments, and long-nursed hurts.
You know when you’ve hit a relationship communication problem, there’s a feeling of tension and of something being unsatisfactory.
You might be fighting far more than usual, or just not talking much at all. You keep missing each other’s meaning. Requests get missed, misunderstandings are rife, and before long, you both feel frustrated.
You might even be wondering if it’s time to separate or get a divorce.
Sometimes the best way to solve a marriage communication problem is to take a whole new approach. Maybe you’ve tried the usual advice of “just talk to each other” or “try to see the other person’s point of view.”
Nothing wrong with that – after all, talking and listening are effective communication techniques and the bedrock of good communication in marriage– but sometimes, a situation needs something different.
Watch this video to know the 3 easy ways to immediately improve communication in your marriage.
If you are struggling with a lack of communication in a relationship or a lack of communication in marriage, try out one or more of these five unexpected communication exercises for couples to solve marital communication problems.
1. Use a talking stick
This sounds a little out of line and may conjure up images of dancing around a campfire with feathers in your hair while wearing a boho skirt but bear with us for a moment.
A talking stick means that only the person holding the stick can talk. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a literal stick, and you don’t have to hit up your nearest hippie emporium (unless that’s your thing, in which case, go for it).
Simply pick an object and agree that whoever is holding it, is the one who talks, and the other person listens.
It’s important not to get carried away and turn the talking stick into the ranting stick. Say your piece, then gracefully hand it over and let your partner have a turn.
Another version of this methodology would be to set a timer for an agreed-upon time frame (could be 5 or 10 minutes), and each of you gets a turn to say their piece while the other is actively listening.
But what if they were thinking of something else altogether? What if you assumed they weren’t taking out the trash because they were lazy when actually the fact is that they were exhausted? The only way to find out is to ask them.
Sit down with your partner and take turns to ask each other questions and really listening to the answers. You can ask about specific issues you’re having, or just ask some general questions to get into the habit of listening.
3. Practice mirroring each other’s words
Be honest, have you ever just switched off when your partner is talking? Or found yourself waiting impatiently for your turn to speak?
We’ve all made a quick to-do list while our partner is sometimes talking.
It’s not a terrible thing to do – it just shows that our minds are busy and we have a lot to do – but it isn’t conducive to how to communicate better in a relationship.
Instead of letting your mind wander, try ‘Mirroring‘ as a marriage communication exercise to connect with your partner.
In this exercise, each of you takes turns to listen to the other, and then when the current speaker is done, the listener mirrors back their words.
So for example, if your partner needs to talk about childcare, you might listen carefully and then mirror back “From what I’m hearing, I get that you feel as if you take most of the responsibility for childcare, and that is stressing you out?”
Do this without judgment. Simply listen and mirror. Both of you will feel more validated and have a deeper understanding of each other, too.
4. Turn off your phone
Our phones are so ubiquitous these days that scrolling through them or answering every “ding” you hear becomes second nature.
However, our addiction to phones can play havoc in our relationships and cause a lack of communication in marriage.
If you’re always on your phone, or you interrupt a conversation in progress to “just check that” when you hear a notification, it’s hard to be fully present with your partner.
Being distracted becomes a way of life, and that causes marital communication problems.
Try switching your phones off for an agreed time, such as an hour each night, or every Sunday afternoon.
5. Write each other a letter
Wondering how to communicate in a relationship or how to communicate with your spouse?
Sometimes it’s hard to say what you want to say, or focus on what your partner needs to say to you.
Writing a letter is a wonderful way to focus on your thoughts and feelings, and you can think about how to express yourself, so you are clear and honest without being cruel or angry.
Reading a letter requires focus and concentration and encourages you to listen to your partner’s words. Just remember to keep your letters respectful and gentle – they’re not a vehicle for venting out frustration.
Marital communication problems don’t spell doom for a relationship, especially marriage. Try out some different techniques and not before long, you’ll learn to communicate more clearly and tackle your issues together.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.