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4 Things That Can Improve Communication Among Couples

Steven Losardo, LMFT

There is no set guidebook that we can buy once we choose to commit and step inside the realm of marriage. Marriage requires consistent work, mindfulness, and attentiveness so that each feels supported as possible and secure (Gottman,2017; Abrahams, 1993; Bream, 2017). Clear and constant couple communication sets the foundation for thriving marriages, but sometimes it can feel challenging to convey our minds successfully. Several factors go into effective communication within marriages, and we need to take these into account (Gottman,2017). The blog highlights some factors. No matter where one is on this topic, the hope is to be aware or learn a bit more. When building relationship communication muscles, we must always put our best foot forward when the circumstances call for it.

Gender Differences

No matter one’s gender, all are capable of being communicators who can generate couple intimacy. However, when working on communicating effectively, gender differences can play a role in complications that couples face (Spring, 1993; Bream Et Al., 2018). Specific to a heterosexual (cisgender) couple, the research, highlights that gender affects communication within our relationships (Spring, 1993; Bream Et Al., 2018). The data specifically notes genetics and environmental factors play a role. Although gender differences will not apply to everyone, there certainly can be gender disparities that are evident within marriages. This is more prominent when the hurt partner is the women. 

As an example, while both partners can express and listening to conflict the same way, the research highlights that more often than not men differ in three ways (Spring, 1993; Bream Et Al., 2018): 

  1. Men will give advice when women want emotional connection
  2. Men might feel foolish or fake when they empathize
  3. Men will get more psychologically overwhelmed during conflict and avoid

Being aware of these potential differences is an important first step in overcoming any communication blocks that may be present. As a result of being conscious of them, the couple can then implement strategies to overcome them. 

Attentive Listening

One of the most vital components in quality communication is being an attentive listener. More distractions than ever before make truly listening to an actual challenge sometimes in this day and age (Treasure, 2020). How often do we think we are listening and absorbing what is being said to us, only to realize that we hardly recollect what was said later? Listening is arguably just as crucial as speaking and communicating what is on your mind, and it shows that you have empathy (Treasure, 2020). It removes unnecessary predicaments involving miscommunication that we may often avoid (Treasure, 2020).  The person sharing with you wants an understanding of their perspective and validation of thoughts and feelings. The Four Horsemen is a metaphor associated with negative communication patterns within relationships, coined by Dr. John Gottman. They are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling (Lisitsa, 2014). Being aware of these unproductive communication approaches and consciously steering away from them will ensure you listen and communicate much more efficiently (Lisitsa, 2013).

Be Mindful of Body Language

Dorrance-Hall. (2017) notes an often missed, yet extremely important aspect of being an effective communicator is being mindful of your body language during interactions. We have the power to even subconsciously pick up on another person’s intentions and receptiveness by how they are positioned during a discussion. Eye contact, arms that are not crossed or indicating that you are closed off, and nodding along to show you are listening are all examples of positive body language. Being attuned to your partner’s needs and physically showing them that you are present with them and here to validate them can make all the difference in conversations. 

Be Intentional

So many of us lead busy lives that seem to be nonstop from the moment our alarm goes off until our heads hit the pillow in the evening. There may be a lot of different interactions and conversations we have throughout the day, but thinking back can we say how many we were fully intentional and mindful with? Intention is everything when efficiently communicating with our partners (Dorrance-Hall, 2017). Ensuring there is complete awareness, no judgement, and empathy are major keys when it comes to effectively hearing and understanding one another. If you truly want to hear and be heard, being intentional with how you listen and express yourself with your partner should be considered (Dorrance-Hall. (2017). 

Communication is something that is ever evolving with you and your partner throughout life. Most individuals don’t reach a place of suddenly becoming a perfect communicator in all scenarios, because aspects like emotions and how other people convey themselves will continue to be factors. What we can do is ensure we are always aware of our partner’s needs as well as our own, always sincerely listen, and offer the utmost empathy and understanding whenever it is needed. Or put another way- be patient always, speak with compassion, listen like your life depends on it. DO ALL THESE IN LOVE.


Bream, Et al. (2018). Gender differences in the structure of marital quality. Retrieved from on August 12, 2021. 

Dorrance-Hall. E. (2017) Communicating mindfully in relationships. . Retrieved from

communication/201709/communicating-mindfully-in-relationships on August 12, 2021.

Lisitsa, E. (2014). Dr. Gottman’s 3 skills (and 1 Rule!) for intimate conversation.  Retrieved from

conversation/ on September, 1, 2021

Lisitsa, E. (2013)The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling.

Retrieved from

contempt-defensiveness-and-stonewalling/ on September 4, 2021. 

Treasure, J. (2020). 5 ways to listen better. Retrieved from

449760 on September 3, 2021. 

Gottman, J. (2016). Gottman method couple therapy. Clinical handbook of couple therapy, 4(8),

138-164. Retrieved from

criticism contempt-defensiveness-and-stonewalling/ on September 4, 2021

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