Communication in Marriage Means more than Talking

We all know how crucial communication in marriage is. How we use communication will determine how strong our connection will be with our partner and if our love for each other will grow or not.


What do I see playing out in marriages? Periods of superficial comfort coloured by periods of defensiveness, misunderstandings, mis-interpretations and misreading partners. This happens despite years of being married.

Some reflections

Good communication in marriage is about truly hearing our partner. This means that we see our partner not as an adversary but sitting on the same side of the table with us.

The reality though is that other issues get in the way of good communication e.g. our own baggage, daily stresses, underlying fears, etc. It is difficult enough to communicate effectively at the best of times. In these times where we are under so much pressure, the challenge is even greater to communicate in ways that maintain a strong connection with our partner.

The most obvious way to communicate is to talk to your partner. Share what you day is like, what is happening at work, etc. The real work is to communicate at a heart to heart, human to human level.

Usually when we meet our partner it feels as if we have met our true soul mate. We feel emotionally safe with our partner. We share our feelings and often our deepest thoughts, etc. Over time the realities of life put strain on our relationship. We are too busy dealing with our own stresses to really listen to our partner. We try to find quick answers to problems instead of listening, etc. and staying with the discomfort of the process. In a matter of time there is distance in our relationship, each focussing on our own lives.

So how can we nurture the connection we had in the beginning?

It is important to try to get back to creating an emotionally safe space for each other. Firstly, this means making time to talk. But secondly, it means being willing to really listen and hear our partner. This is quite a challenge because when living a pressured life, we often react from a defensive point of view without even knowing it.

Communication in marriage is about talking about the deeper things that really matter: how you feel about your life, the impact of events of on your relationship, what is going on in your inner world, etc.

In essence we are a witness to each other’s lives. So can we look at our partner as someone who is on their own journey with their own lessons to learn? Do we talk about the values we share or our priorities in life?

It is easy to assume that we know everything about our partner. What I see in my practice is the opposite.

We need to see our spouse as a true partner: someone with whom we consult on issues. In communication in marriage we need to show our vulnerability and drop our masks and defences. This brings greater emotional intimacy.

How well do you truly understand your partner? Can you expect them to know you well when you wear a mask? To what extent can you be yourself with your partner? Are you able to accept their humanness, imperfections and all? Can you accept your partner as someone with their own needs, desires and dreams? To what extent can you give them the space to realise these?

Communication in marriage is a complex topic. The books provide easy answers but the reality is very different.

Marriage will trigger emotional baggage from our past. What we need to do is find ways to work through our past and deal with the emotions that our partner will evoke. We can then find ways to remain connected to the person with whom we chose to share our life.

If you would like to explore more meaningful ways to connect with your partner you would benefit from relationship counselling.

“Love one another and you will be happy.”

It’s as simple and as difficult as that. There is no other way.


Michael Leunig


When two persons can share from the very centre of their existence, they experience love in its truest quality. Marriage is a venture into intimacy, and intimacy is the opening of one self to another.

David Augsburger


Posted in Relationships.