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The 5 Most Common Communication Issues in Marriage & How to Resolve Them

It’s said that every garden, no matter how beautiful, must be tended to. In the same vein, a marriage, despite being a haven of love and companionship, requires continuous nurturing. Like an unkempt garden that slowly becomes overgrown with weeds, a marriage can become entangled with the thorns of communication issues if not properly cared for. Weeding out these communication issues can be a daunting task, but it’s an essential process to restore your relationship’s harmony and vibrancy.

Below are the top 5 marital communication issues, along with tips for resolving each of them:

  1. Poor Listening Habits

    It’s not always about the seeds you plant in your relationship but the attention you pay to what’s already there. Listening is a skill that often doesn’t get the focus it deserves.

    Many arguments stem from a failure to genuinely listen to and understand each other. Sometimes, you might be more concerned with your rebuttal than comprehending your spouse’s perspective. You might even misconstrue their message, thereby watering the seeds of misunderstanding and conflict.

    Just as you would weed out undesirable plants from your garden, you need to root out poor listening habits from your communication practices. It’s time to make way for active listening.

    Active listening involves fully concentrating, understanding, responding, and then remembering what is being said. This is your way of showing your spouse that you’re fully present and engaged in the conversation, fostering an environment of mutual respect and empathy.
  2. Avoidance and Silence

    If silence were golden, then many relationships would be wealthy beyond imagination. Unfortunately, in the realm of marital communication, silence can be less of a treasure and more of a ticking time bomb.

    Avoiding sensitive topics or retreating into silence doesn’t mean the issues disappear. Instead, they continue to grow, like unchecked weeds. And these weeds can cast a shadow on the relationship or even choke out the intimate connection that once drew you together.

    Facing the issues head-on might be intimidating, but it’s essential. Just like how sunlight is essential for the garden to grow, transparency and openness are necessary for a relationship to flourish. Engaging in courageous conversations helps unearth the problems hidden beneath the surface, offering a chance for growth and healing.
  3. Lack of Nonverbal Communication

    In the garden of communication, words often take the limelight, while nonverbal cues play the unsung hero. Nonverbal cues, like facial expressions, body language, and even silence, play a crucial role in how our messages are perceived and understood. Ignoring these is like forgetting to water your plants; they might survive for a while, but they can’t thrive.

    Harnessing the power of nonverbal communication helps add a layer of depth to your interactions. Nonverbal cues act as the rich soil that allows the seed of your words to take root and bloom. Be mindful of your body language and facial expressions. They can strengthen your verbal communication, making your intentions and feelings clear to your spouse.
  4. Criticism Instead of Complaints

    Criticisms can sear through the health of your relationship like a hot summer’s day through delicate blooms. While it’s natural to have complaints in a marriage, turning those into personal criticisms can be destructive. When your spouse feels under attack, they might shut down or retaliate, turning a small disagreement into a full-blown argument.

    In the garden of your marriage, use a sprinkler, not a power hose. It’s about the gentleness and precision in your approach. Instead of hurling criticisms, frame your complaints in a way that discusses the behavior, not the person. Using “I” statements can help express your feelings without blaming your spouse, promoting a climate of understanding and respect. This one skill alone can make a world of difference for most couples attempting to resolve communication issues in their marriage.
  5. Negative Assumptions and Mind-Reading

    Assuming you know what your spouse is thinking or feeling can create confusion and conflict, much like planting the wrong seeds in your garden. These assumptions often breed resentment and misunderstanding.

    Your spouse’s thoughts and feelings are not for you to presume, but to understand. Ask clarifying questions and verify your assumptions. Treat each conversation as a new seedling that needs your care and attention to grow.

Breaking bad habits of communication is difficult – just as breaking any habit is difficult. It’s easy to fall back into old patterns. So, resolving these communication issues on your own will take time and patience.

However, for couples eager to restore harmony to their relationship, professional assistance can be highly beneficial. For many, a private intensive couples retreat provides the swiftest way to weed out communication issues and nurture the growth of a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.

Whether you choose to address the communication issues in your marriage on your own or with the help of a professional, the rewards for giving your relationship the time, care, and attention it deserves will help your relationship flourish.

Mary Ellen Goggin offers relationship coaching for individuals and collaborates with her partner Dr. Jerry Duberstein to offer private couples retreats. To learn more about working with Mary Ellen, contact her here.

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Mary Ellen Goggin

Mary Ellen is a highly skilled and intuitive relationship guide. She brings over 35 years’ experience with individuals and businesses as a lawyer, mediator, personal coach and educator. She received her J.D. at University of New Hampshire Law School and a Master’s Degree at Harvard University. Mary Ellen co-authored Relationship Transformation: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too with Jerry Duberstein — and they were married by chapter 3. Mary Ellen brings a unique blend of problem-solving, practicality, and warmth to her work. She’s a highly analytic person, with geeky and monkish tendencies. She’s a daredevil skydiver, a voracious seeker of knowledge, and an indulgent grandmother. Her revolution: helping people become the unapologetic rulers of their inner + outer realms. Read more about the retreats