13 Marriage Communication Exercises To Improve Your Relationship
Updated March 04, 2020
Reviewer Karen Devlin, LPC
Communication in a marriage is extremely important. Communication is about more than just being able to sit down and talk to your partner about your day. Real communication in a marriage is about being able to have open and honest discussions about literally anything in your lives. You and your spouse must be able to communicate with each other effectively so that you know and understand each other's feelings, thoughts, and emotions. If you and your spouse seem to have grown apart and you feel like you aren't communicating well anymore, there are a lot of marriage communication exercises that you can do to help you.
Importance of Communication in Marriage
It could be said that good communication between a couple is the foundation for a long and healthy relationship. Many married couples think that daily banter or lack thereof is not all that important. However, your ability to communicate frequently and effectively with your spouse directly affects many other aspects of your relationship. A lack of communication can affect parenting decisions, your sex life, your ability to resolve conflict when it arises, and your ability to cope with the stressors that most married couples face.
What Is Effective Communication in Marriage?
Effective communication in marriage is about more than just words. Communication in marriage also depends on the context of the situation, body language, spoken or written communication, touch, and emotion. Effective communication with your spouse isn't just about being able to say what you need to say in a way that they can understand and be okay with. It is also about being able to actively listen to your partner and read their context clues and body language so that you are aware of what is going on with them even if they are not communicating with you openly or actively.
Marriage Communication Exercises
If you feel that your marriage is lacking ineffective communication, there are several things that you can do to remedy the situation. You have a lot of resources at your disposal. There are many communication exercises and workbooks that you can purchase online or in the bookstores to help you and your spouse learn how to communicate more effectively. Yet if you want to make sure that you are communicating well and if the exercises and self-help books don't work, you might need outside help in the form of a counselor or therapist. To start with, here are some marriage communication exercises that you can try.
#1 Fireside Chats
President Franklin D. Roosevelt made "fireside chats" the commonality that they are today. These chats were meant to allow you to feel as though you were sitting with the president by the fireplace in a cozy room. This communication exercise requires you to recreate that environment for a comfortable and safe place for you and your spouse to communicate. Your fireside chats should last about thirty minutes once a week. You can start with safe subjects such as pop culture, or you can address deeper issues in your relationship.
#2 Highs and Lows
At the end of the day, after dinner or toward bedtime, you and your spouse should take a moment to communicate with each other about your day. Each of you should pick a high point and a low point of your day to share with each other. This is an exercise to practice active listening. Listen to what your partner has to say about their day. If their low point was something you feel you might be able to help with, ask them if they want help or advice or just a listening ear.
#3 Listening Silently
This is another marriage communication exercise that allows you to practice your listening skills. Set a timer for three to five minutes, and you or your partner get to talk freely until the timer goes off. Whoever is doing the listening must do so without interjecting or speaking at all. They can only use nonverbal cues to let the other partner know that they are listening and are empathetic. After the timer goes off, you can discuss your thoughts and feelings about the exercise and what was said. Then you switch places so that both of you have the same opportunity to learn and grow.
#4 Practicing I Statements
One of the problems that often arise in marital communication is when words like you, should, and could are used in personal expression. It is important to own your thoughts and feelings by using I statements only. This can be a very difficult habit to cultivate, but it is very important for effective communication without playing a blame game and starting a conflict. You can practice I statement in several ways, most of which involve taking time to sit with your partner and actively come up with I statements.
#5 Say It Again
If you and your partner tend to become heated when you have a conflict or disagreement, the chances are that you have said some hurtful things amid an argument. To avoid this in the future, this marriage communication exercise focuses on helping each other see how you can phrase things differently to avoid conflict and hurt feelings. You and your partner think of two or three things that were said during your last argument. You then work together to determine how those thoughts and feelings could have been communicated in a more loving and nonjudgmental way.
#6 Sticks and Stones
We all know that words and name-calling can hurt, but we often do it anyway in the heat of the moment. In this exercise, you and your partner will each sit down and make a list of the disrespectful names you have called each other. When your lists are complete, you sit down together and share them. Discuss each name on the list and discuss how it made you feel and allow your partner the chance to do the same.
In this exercise, you will learn how to communicate with your partner in a way that they can understand. Different people understand and communicate on different levels. This exercise helps you learn how to communicate with your partner on a level that they can understand. First, one partner builds a structure with blocks. Then, that partner guides the other partner with verbal instructions on how to build the same structure.
This communication exercise is like the last, but in this instance, the partner is going to create an obstacle course with "mines" that must be avoided by the other partner. Then, the other partner is blindfolded, and the spouse that made the obstacle course must guide the blind partner through the course safely.
#9 Give Me A Hand
This communication exercise is about cooperation. During this exercise, you and your partner will have to complete a task together. The trick is that each of you will have one hand tied behind your back. This means that you absolutely must work together and communicate effectively to complete the task successfully.
#10 Mirror Mirror
This communication exercise is about learning to listen to one another. Set a timer for three to five minutes. Either you or your partner will tell a story until the timer goes off. The other partner will repeat the story as they understood it back to the first partner. Then you switch and do the exercise again. This will help you to understand how well you can listen to each other and truly understand and regurgitate the information you are being given.
#11 Future Goals
One of the best marriage communication exercises is discussing future goals with your partner. Discussing your goals and hopes for the future can help you both be on the same page about where your lives are being taken and how you want to get there. Your goals and your partner's goals might not be the same, but that doesn't mean that they can't mesh, and you can compromise to build a life together that you can both be happy with.
#12 Music Lyrics
This marriage communication exercise is supposed to help you and your partner understand more about each other through music. Music is very powerful, and the lyrics to our favorite songs hold deep meaning to some people. By sharing the lyrics of your three favorite songs with your partner, you can discuss how those lyrics make you feel, why they are important to you, and why you want to share them with your partner. This exercise can bring you much closer together, and it will also improve your communication skills.
#13 Keep a You and Me Journal
This method of communication exercise will help you, and your spouse can better communicate by writing, as well as verbally. Often when you are writing something to someone you have a chance to think more carefully and choose your words wisely so that you can convey your message without hurting or upsetting the other person. You and my journal is a book that you and your spouse can leave messages for each other in. The messages can be anything, but they should strive to communicate thought and emotion without criticism or judgment.
If these communication exercises do not help you get your communication in your marriage on track, you might need additional outside help. A marriage counselor or therapist will be able to help you and your partner learn how to communicate more effectively. They can also help you to address other marital problems that may be stemming from a lack of effective communication. If you are unable to afford or find a marriage counselor in your area, you have other options. ReGain is an online counseling platform that has a network of licensed marriage counselors and therapists in your state that will be able to help you and your spouse when it is convenient for you.