The importance of communication in a marriage cannot be overstated. Communication is about more than just being able to sit down and talk to your partner about your day. Maintaining a high level of communication in a marriage is about being able to have open and honest discussions about literally anything in your life. You and your spouse must be able to communicate with each other effectively – via a variety of communication styles, such as written communication – and build trust 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 communication exercises for couples that you can do to help you hone your communication skills and grow closer.
Importance of Communication in Marriage
It could be said that good communication between a couple is the foundation for a long and healthy relationship or marriage. Many married couples think that daily banter or lack thereof is not all that important for their mental health. However, your ability to communicate frequently and effectively with your spouse directly affects many other aspects of your relationship. A lack of communication skills 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. Couples' communication in marriage also depends on the context of the situation, body language, spoken or written communication, touch, and emotion. Powerful 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 engage in active listening with 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.
If you feel that your marriage is lacking effective verbal 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 effective communication exercises for couples 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, therapist, or other licensed health professional. So, while you may be able to do these exercises and activities at home alone with your partner, you might also consider getting some professional input from a therapist or a counselor when it comes to these effective communication exercises for couples.
To start with, here are some communication exercises for couples that you can try. Let’s look at each of the couple’s communication exercises and the benefits of these communication exercises.
#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 powerful communication exercise requires you to recreate that environment for a comfortable and safe place for you and your spouse to communicate and eventually grow closer. 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. Make sure to maintain good eye contact so that your partner knows they have your full attention.
This is one of the effective communication exercises for couples because it not only has you sitting down with your partner and giving them your undivided attention, but it also allows you to be in a space that is both physically and emotionally safe. This gives you a chance to be a bit more free and open with your style of communication.
#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. 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 an active listening ear.
This is listed as one of the great effective communication exercises for couples because it is a powerful communication exercise that allows both individuals to reflect on their day. So, this is one of those effective communication exercises for couples that focus on individual reflection as well as helping couples to improve their communication with each other. When you or your partner think back on your day, you’re practicing a type of self-reflection that will help you bring more and contribute more to these effective communication exercises for couples.
#3 Listening Silently
This is another communication exercise for couples that allows you to practice your active 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. It is helpful to maintain good eye contact with your partner during all communication activities for couples. After the timer goes off, you can discuss your thoughts and feelings about the exercise and what was said. Then you switch roles so that both of you have the same opportunity to learn and grow closer to each other.
This exercise made the list of effective communication exercises for couples because it’s a great way to practice nonverbal communication with your partner. Nonverbal communication is a skill that you can build and practice, and it’s especially important to use when listening. That’s right! Even when you’re listening silently – not speaking at all – you’re communicating with your partner. This is one of those effective communication exercises for couples that can help you and your partner improve the nonverbal communication that happens when you’re listening actively to each other.
#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. It can be very difficult to cultivate respectful communication patterns, but it is very important to establish effective communication without playing a blame game and starting a conflict. You can practice I statements in several ways, most of which involve taking time to sit down with your partner and actively come up with I statements.
This is one of the trust-building exercises, in addition to being one of the most effective communication exercises for couples. These effective communication exercises for couples are also a great way to build up assertive communication. Now, assertive communication exercises aren’t meant to make things more contentious. Instead, assertive communication exercises are a way for couples to develop a style of communication in which both partners are heard and understood, without being ignored or shouted down. It’s also a great way to break negative communication habits that would otherwise disproportionately affect one partner in the relationship.
#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 communication exercise for couples focuses on helping each other see how you can alter communication style to 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. This activity can be thought of as an assertive communication exercise in which you can learn to still express your feelings but in a loving manner.
This made the list of powerful communication exercises for couples because it allows both partners to reflect individually on their behavior while also seeing how this behavior – and style of communication – affects the relationship as a whole. It’s also a powerful communication exercise for couples because it fosters understanding and patience between you and your partner.
#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 communication exercise for couples, 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 can 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 the future, think to yourself: Every time I comment on something my partner says or does, how does that make them feel?
This is one of those effective communication exercises for couples that will also help both partners to see the toxic communication patterns that might be lurking in their relationship. When you have to take a step back and consider the viewpoint of your partner, you’re looking from a bigger perspective. This wider angle is a great way to identify further steps that you and your partner can take to improve your relationship.
In this communication exercise for couples, you will learn how to communicate with your partner in a way that they can understand. Different people understand and communicate on different levels in married life. 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.
From these effective communication exercises for couples, you can see that communication-building exercises don’t have to be boring or intimidating! This is a fun, hands-on activity that often serves as a jumping-off point for deeper conversations about your communication patterns with your partner.
This couple's 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. This proverbial minefield is a great step in allowing for better couples communication without the necessity of eye contact while providing a secure environment for two people to grow closer and develop a sense of trust.
This is another one of the hands-on effective communication exercises for couples. It is also an effective trust-building exercise that allows both partners the chance to lead and to be led. This can be a great starting point for conversations about leading in communication: from these effective communication exercises for couples, you can talk about who starts and carries the conversations in the relationship, what that says about each person’s role in the relationship, and how those roles might be tweaked (if necessary) to improve the relationship.
#9 Give Me A Hand
This powerful communication exercise is about cooperation. During this communication exercise for couples, 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 engage in effective verbal communication to create a level of understanding allowing for successful completion of the task.
This is another one of the more fun and effective communication exercises for couples. It is also a great way to look at the patterns of leadership in the relationship. Who is leading? Who is listening? Does this dynamic cause stress, or does it lead to the successful completion of the task? With these effective communication exercises for couples, you’ll be able to see all of those questions play out in real-time, and it will hopefully lead to a conversation that breaks down those answers.
#10 Mirror Mirror
This powerful 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. Being able to listen to your partner and analyze their thoughts and feelings is an extremely important skill that will help maintain good mental health in married life.
These effective communication exercises for couples are about active listening. Remember, active listening is just as important as speaking when it comes to effective communication in a relationship. This is also a great way to hear new stories and experiences from your partner, while building up better listening and communication skills at the same time!
#11 Future Goals
One of the most powerful communication exercises for partners in married life is discussing future goals with your spouse. 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. This example of verbal communication practice is an assertive communication exercise that helps people express their true intentions without feeling like they necessarily have to agree with their partner.
When it comes to effective communication exercises for couples, this one should be done frequently throughout the relationship. At the beginning of a relationship or marriage, it’s important to know what your partner desires and expects for the future. It’s equally important that they know what you want and expect for the future, too. Even as the relationship grows and develops, it’s important to touch base with future goals. So, these effective communication exercises for couples are great at every step of the relationship’s journey!
#12 Music Lyrics
This effective communication exercise for married life is supposed to help you and your partner understand more about each other through music. Music is a very powerful form of written communication, 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 engage in verbal communication to discuss how those lyrics make you feel, why they are important to you, and why you want to share them with your partner. This communication exercise for couples can bring you much closer together, grow your arsenal of communication styles, develop your understanding of the love languages, improve your communication skills, remind you of the importance of communication, and serve as a fun activity to enjoy during date night.
In these effective communication exercises for couples, you’ll be looking outside the relationship for clues and words to express how you feel about your partner and your relationship. This is a great way to consider your feelings, and then to earnestly search for the right words and music to express them. It’s also very fun, and it makes a lot of great memories that will last throughout the relationship!
#13 Keep a You and Me Journal
This method of written communication exercises for couples will help you and your spouse better communicate by writing, as well as through verbal conversation. 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 journals are books that you and your spouse can leave messages for each other in so that you can hone your written communication skills and aid in the maintenance of good mental health. These messages can be anything, but they should be an attempt to communicate thought and emotion without criticism or judgment.
This exercise made the list of effective communication exercises for couples because it gives you and your partner a concrete thing to hold and look at. When things get rough, or when you need a reminder of how much you do love each other, your journal is there. It’s also a great way to track progress and measure how far your relationship has come. This can be an encouraging tool as the relationship progresses, and it can give you and your partner the motivation to keep going with these effective communication exercises for couples.
If these communication activities do not help you get the communication in your marriage back on track, you might need additional outside help from a health professional. 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 problems associated with married life 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.