8 Simple Communication Skills Happily Married Couples Who Are Actually Happy Already Know

Photo: Chermiti Mohamed / Pexels
happy couple in a field

Married life isn't what you thought it would be. You talk about work. You talk about the kids. You talk about rush-hour traffic. But you don’t know how to communicate effectively with your spouse about things that make you a couple.

You live in the same home, sleep in the same bed, and share the same anniversary. And yet, the communication in your marriage has lost its luster and your intimacy is paying the price.

Unfortunately, the perception of "what is essential" gets muddled in the monotony of day-to-day responsibilities. And before you know it, intimacy — true, emotional intimacy — takes its foot off the gas and coasts to a halt.

Luckily, these communication secrets are sure to keep your marriage strong.

Here are 8 communication skills happily married couples know.

1. Be honest about your desires.

Do you really want your spouse to talk more... or listen more? Good and effective communication is a healthy reciprocity of both.



But if you’re feeling locked out of your marriage’s potential because of poor communication, it’s important to be honest about your needs. You can't expect your partner to know what you're thinking, so being honest about what you truly want will stop resentment before it grows.

Women who complain that their husbands won’t talk often really want their husbands to listen. Not just in-one-ear-and-out-the-other listen, but hearing-with-the-heart listen.

RELATED: 3 Low-Key Aggressive Communication Mistakes That Threaten Even Great Relationships

2. Create safety in your relationship.

Anything can be shared when the environment for sharing is safe. That’s why working with a therapist can create such breakthroughs when you don’t know how to get your spouse to communicate.

The absence of communication is often a sign of fear. It is therefore imperative that you never, ever use your spouse’s words against them. You took vows to love, protect and cherish, after all.

When and how did you think you would have to live those vows if not when you are communicating? Be your spouse’s safe place to land. Take good care of your spouse’s heart and see what comes forth when you do.

3. Embrace your differences.

We can joke all day about how different men and women are. But if we don’t learn from the differences and apply the lessons, we’re just wasting valuable information.

When it comes to communication, men and women not only have different styles but different needs. Women crave empathy, men crave respect. And their communication styles reflect those differences.

Wives, it may be second nature for you to maintain eye contact during conversations. You may also weave your conversations, sometimes overlapping or interjecting in a cooperative way.



Men, you may be more comfortable talking while doing something — walking, fishing, gardening. Sitting face-to-face may create tension for you, which is why sitting side-by-side and taking turns in conversation may be more comfortable.

The important thing is that you each seek to understand the other. Learn your spouse’s love language... and speak it.

4. Listen with intention.

Listening isn’t a waiting game. It’s a learning mission. You are seeking information that will help you know and love your spouse more intimately. You won’t observe or hear the nuances of information if you are simply waiting for your spouse to stop talking so you can say what you want to say.

Listen quietly. Listen compassionately. Listen without judgment. Don’t override, pounce, or fill in the silent gaps. Give your partner time to explain their emotions and get their point across, sitting back and listening. Even reassuring comments can stop your spouse’s flow and their trust in the safety of the conversation.

If you don’t know how to get your spouse to communicate with you, work on being a good listener. Just. Listen. Your spouse is gifting you with their vulnerability. Treat it with care. Learn. And be grateful.

RELATED: 12 Golden Rules For A Happy Marriage

5. Ask open-ended questions.

"Are you OK?" will likely get you a "Yep" in response. "How did you feel listening to the Clarks talk about their retreat?" opens the door to a real discussion. By asking open-ended questions, you are more likely to learn just how much your spouse really wants to share.

Additionally, open-ended questions allow you to understand your partner's experience and show that you want to hear what they have to say. Often, relationships can become stale when partners stop wondering about each other. This helps couples to become more curious.



6. Be considerate of timing.

When you are discussing important topics, it's important to not bring up those conversations at improper times. For instance, when you are both tired.

Communication is successful when partners set it up to succeed. Be considerate of one another and choose your timing accordingly.

7. Don’t expect (or pretend to be) a mind reader.

"He should just know" or "She can figure it out" sets your relationship up for failure, especially when there are expectations attached to the assumptions. It’s incredibly unfair not to take responsibility for communicating what you are wanting or needing if you expect the other person to fulfill it.

Inevitably, your spouse won’t read your mind correctly, and both of you will end up resentful. In The Four Agreements, the one agreement that is deemed to be most transformative is don’t make assumptions. And mind-reading falls into the category of making assumptions.

8. Be the spouse you desire.

The adage that "you teach people how to treat you" joins forces with the Golden Rule in this tip. Model the behavior you want from your spouse. Assume the risk of being the first one to do the right thing.

Listen longer. Make safety unequivocal. Speak your spouse’s love language. Set your relationship up to succeed by expecting only of yourself and trusting your spouse to respond in kind.



Learning how to get your spouse to communicate with you has less to do with your spouse and everything to do with you. After all, you are the only one you can control.

Being aware of the importance of communication leads to healthy and good communication skills in all of your relationships. That awareness opens the door to intention, which then sets the stage for positive changes in behavior.

Make healthy communication a priority. It can revitalize, reinvent, and even save your marriage.

RELATED: The Specific Issue That's The Strongest Indicator Of Divorce, According To Research

Mary Ellen Goggin and Dr. Jerry Duberstein offer relationship coaching for individuals, and offer private couples retreats and couples counseling. They are co-authors of the book "Relationship Transformation: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too."

This article was originally published at The Free & Connected blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.