8 Ways to communicate better with your spouse

Marriage communication is on the list of every list of marriage advice and characteristics of a good marriage. And it’s rightly so. Effective communication is vastly important. 

In my nearly 25 years of marriage, my husband and I have learned a few things about the importance of communication. We’re not perfect and still make mistakes, but we have much better communication skills now than we did on the day we said “I do.”

Married couples have so many things they need to discuss: their relationship, finances, parenting, household chores, schedules and so much more. Inevitably, difficult conversations are also part of life for any married couple.

We’ve learned that along with being honest with each other, there are right and wrong ways to communicate well whether we’re having serious or mundane discussions.

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

1. Watch your tone of voice.  

At the top of the list has to be tone of voice. My husband knows me better than anyone else. So when I say the right words but with the wrong tone of voice, he is far from fooled. 

How to improve communication in your marriage Pinterest image 1

I’ve found this to be true even when I want to take care of him. Like if I ask whether I can make him something for lunch when I’m making food for the rest of us, I can easily say it frazzled or sincere. How I say it makes all the difference. 

Being passive aggressive or sarcastic cause communication problems. My husband and I made a deal when we were first married that we shouldn’t allow passive aggression to be part of our relationship. We’ve mostly stuck to that which has contributed to our successful relationship.

2. Be aware of your body language.

Another important communication skill has nothing to do with words. Nonverbal communication says a lot. 

I’m pretty good at taming my tongue, but sometimes I struggle to tame my facial expressions. That’s especially true with my husband because he knows me so well. He can tell by my face and actions whether I’m feeling grumpy or irritated. 

I’ve found the best way to to have a healthy communication style is to talk about issues before they go too far. Sharing my challenges or frustrations with my husband helps us have better marital communication.

We are able to work through the issue if it is a relationship one. Or he at least able to understand where I’m coming from in the challenges of the day.

Along with speaking volumes, our body language also lets our spouses know whether we’re really listening to them or if we’re distracted. Good communication skills include being a good listener.

Especially for meaningful conversations, you want to maintain eye contact and truly pay attention to what your spouse is saying.

3. Make sure it’s a good time to talk.

Early in our marriage, I learned that I can avoid strife by simply asking my husband if it’s a good time to talk. He does the same for me. 

Then we can finish a task if we need to or put down electronics or whatever we need to do to devote our attention to the other person. It’s one of the effective ways to make sure you each have the other’s undivided attention.

This has continued to serve us well in working from home. We share an office. Throughout the day, we usually need to talk to each other about something and will ask first if it’s a good time or for the other person to let us know when they have a free minute. 

It sets us up for good communication from the start — even about small things like what the kids’ schedule is that day.

4. Remember nobody is a mind reader.

Another lesson I learned about communication early on in our marriage was that I couldn’t expect my husband to know something I didn’t tell him. Instead of just assuming he knows something is important to me, I tell him.

He has a different perspective on life and situations than I do. In order to have a great marriage in the long run, you need to be able to share what’s going on inside your head.

I want to meet my partner’s needs and be a good wife. I can’t meet my spouse’s needs if I don’t know what he’s truly thinking and vice versa. At the end of the day, he’ll only know I need or want something if I tell him.

I also have learned my husband doesn’t always know what is bothering me or what I’m stressing out about unless I tell him. He can almost always tell something is up, but he can’t be there for me sometimes unless I allow him by sharing with him what’s going on in my head. 

5. Pay attention to your phrasing.

Communication ramps up into an argument pretty quickly when we pull out phrases that accuse. We all go on the defensive when we feel attacked, and communication issues run rampant.

Instead of saying something like, “Why don’t you ever make dinner? I have to do everything around here!” A great way to rephrase that next time is, “I’m overwhelmed and need help. Can you make dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays?”

You’ll end up with what you were wanting but you won’t have to have an argument in order to get there. Your spouse will understand what’s going on with you and how he can help. You’ve opened the door of communication so that you can truly share with each other.

6. Don’t use words to hurt.

I know the things that bother my husband the most, just as he knows the same about me. The best thing we can do is stop ourselves from using that in the middle of a disagreement. You don’t want to break trust that is hard to get back.

Beyond just being poor communication, using words that hurt are going to tear down your relationship and undo all the hard work you’ve put into it. Words can hurt.

The other rule that we made from the beginning of our marriage is if either of us ever brings up divorce, we’d better mean it. I mean that in we don’t want to throw around threats that we don’t mean. 

We can get upset and disagree, but we don’t want to do lasting damage to our marriage and relationship. Setting boundaries for ourselves on what we say can lead to a happy relationship and healthy marriage that will last.

7. Listen to understand, not just for your turn to talk.

While it’s important to be aware of what we are saying with our words and body language, communication can’t happen unless we listen. And that sounds much easier than it is!

When my husband is talking with me about something important, I do my best to actively listen and make sure I’m paying attention, not just waiting for my turn to talk or formulating my response inside my head. 

I’ve also learned that I usually do really enjoy hearing his point of view. He has great insights — which is one of the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place!

8. Know when it’s time to table a discussion for the moment.

Sometimes it’s just not a good time to have or continue a conversation. Maybe you’re too upset and know if the conversation continues you’re going to say something you’ll regret. 

Or maybe you’re too distracted to really listen. Maybe you’re just too tired to continue talking. Tell each other and agree to come back to the topic — then do so!

Often our best time to chat about things is just before bed because the kids aren’t up and interrupting us; this was especially true in our days of having young children. 

But, I’m not a night person. Some nights I’m literally just too tired to have a good conversation about a serious topic. 

When I’m tired, I get irritated and emotional much easier. (Who doesn’t?!) I opt to tell my husband that I want to have the discussion but I just can’t at the moment. And then we find a better time to talk later.

Setting aside time for conversations like a date night where you go out to dinner and just talk can be really helpful for these intense conversations.

Bonus tip: Try a shared journal

You can also build a healthy relationship by spending quality time together with a couple’s journal. It’s a great way to express appreciation for one another and grow closer in your relationship. Be sure to check out “The Christian Couple’s Journal” on Amazon now to take your relationship to the next level!

The Christian Couple's Journal

Don’t miss the latest release from Families with Grace and Stacey A. Shannon: “The Christian Couple’s Journal.” Elevate your marriage and faith with “The Christian Couple’s Journal.” 100 days of prompts, Bible verses, date ideas and reflections to strengthen your bond. Grow together in just minutes a day!

About the Author: Stacey A. Shannon

Stacey A. Shannon is a freelance journalist and blogger who has been published internationally. She's also a Christian, a wife and a mom of two school-aged children. She started Families with Grace in 2019 to encourage Christian moms as they create homes filled with grace, love and faith.

Be sure to get the FREE family devotion book, "Finding Grace at Home: 7 Days of 5 Minute Devotions for Families." It's a great way to help your family draw closer to each other and to God.

Motherhood can be lonely. You weren't meant to go on your motherhood journey alone. Connect with Stacey and other Christian moms like you in the private Facebook group, Moms with Grace!

And check out the books from Stacey A. Shannon as well!

How to improve communication in your marriageHow to improve communication in your marriageHow to improve communication in your marriageHow to improve communication in your marriageHow to improve communication in your marriageHow to improve communication in your marriageHow to improve communication in your marriageHow to improve communication in your marriageHow to improve communication in your marriageHow to improve communication in your marriageHow to improve communication in your marriageHow to improve communication in your marriage