Marriage Counseling Relationships

Effective Communication in Marriage

The basics

Effective communication in marriage is one of the most important things to figure out, and one of the hardest to do consistently. When couples have trouble communicating during conflict, this can be one of the most frustrating of events. In marriage counseling, one of the tasks the marriage counselor takes on is helping you learn to communicate frustrations and concerns in ways your spouse can listen to. Quite often, the counselor will make use of your past successes during disagreements that went well so you can use these strategies in the future. Below is a description of a strategy that helped one couple.

A Strategy That Works in Some Marriages

A couple I was seeing for couples counseling was describing one of their preferred future desires, saying it would be great if they could both not have such strong negative reactions when they are angry about something and have more effective communication during these moments. For example, the husband volunteered that he tends to get angry and swear when repairing things around the house. He is aware that he shouldn’t act this way and doesn’t want to act this way. But when he’s in that moment, it’s hard to pull back and control his temper.

They realized one helpful thing his wife did was to bring him a cup of coffee and suggest he could use a break from his “hard” work. This turned out to be a great distraction from his frustrating task. He took her subtle hint that he was getting out of hand and calmed himself down before resuming the task. They agreed this was a tactic they could use since they both have times when frustration gets the best of them.

Effective Ways to Communicate:

When talking about effective communication in marriage, it can be difficult to “call out” your spouse because it can make their attitude worse. Effective communication is necessary in marriage because you’re stuck with this person for life (if things go well). What seems to work about this strategy is that it interrupts an undesirable behavior without direct confrontation. It may not work for everyone or for every situation but definitely worth a try.

Gary Watson is a Solution Focused Therapist in Grand Rapids Michigan.  He provides counseling for couples, counseling for teenagers, and adults.  He provides counseling for anxiety, depression, stress, college and work stress, and relationship problems.  For more information, please visit the website at