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How to build better communication skills in your marriage, according to experts

Posted July 5
Updated July 6

You'll feel "more connected, loving, peaceful and satisfied with the quality of your relationship" if you learn to communicate better. (Deseret Photo)

You’ve heard it time and again — for a healthy and happy relationship, you and your spouse need to communicate. But good communication is easier said than done, and many marriages struggle because couples lack those skills.

Luckily, there are many experienced relationship experts out there who know that good communication should look in a marriage. Here’s what four of them have to say:

1. How to confront an issue that upsets you

Jennifer Gatti, a licensed master social worker, says the timing is everything when it comes to bringing up a partner’s annoying or upsetting behavior.

“It's best to pick a time when you're not feeling irritated, a time when you're both feeling safe and loved.” Gatti also says suddenly screaming will only make you seem like a bully.

“If you speak to your [significant other] in a calm manner and with the idea that it will ultimately bring you closer together, you are more likely to have a good and productive conversation.”

Ultimately, it’s best to time this sort of conversation when neither of you are feeling upset or overly emotional and remember to speak calmy and respectfully.

2. How to verbalize your desires

Being able to communicate your needs and wants is a vital part of any relationship.

Kristin Zeising, PsyD, a relationship therapist in San Diego, says you can’t expect to mesh with your partner until you actual verbalize what it is you need. She also says to be open and realistic whenever you’re communicating your desires with your partner.

“Any expectations using the words ‘always’ or ‘never’ are unrealistic,” she says, so try to avoid these statements. Also, talking to your partner about how you both can make each other happier is a good way to verbalize what you want without seeming ungrateful.

3. How to improve your listening skills

Half of communication is listening, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Sound expert Julian Treasure is familiar with the difficulty of always listening closely when your spouse is talking.

“When I married my wife,” Treasure said, “I promised her I would listen to her every day as if for the first time. Now that's something I fall short of on a daily basis. But it's a great intention to have in a relationship.”

Treasure suggests an acronym - RASA - for those wanting to increase their listening skills.

“RASA stands for ‘Receive,’ which means pay attention to the person; ‘Appreciate,’ making little noises like ‘hmm,’ ‘oh,’ ‘OK’; ‘Summarize’ — the word ‘so’ is very important in communication; and ‘Ask,’ ask questions afterwards.” Using this acronym can help you slow down and listen to your spouse and give your partner the opportunity to be heard.

4. How to express gratitude

“Those who express appreciation for their partners on a daily basis also have a more positive perception of their partners, and feel more comfortable voicing concerns about their relationship,” says Samantha Burns, a dating and relationship expert.

Making sure to frequently include gratitude in your conversations together will strengthen your overall communication skills. Burns says expressing thankfulness can make you feel more connected, loving, peaceful and satisfied with the quality of your relationship.

By taking these four experts’ communication advice to heart, we can all improve the quality of our marriages and finally feel like you and your spouse are good communicators.

McKenna Park is a staff writer at FamilyShare. She's a happy wife, puppy mama, ice cream addict and film nerd. Contact her at mpark@deseretdigital.com.

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