Communication in Marriage

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FCS2178
Can We Talk? Improving Couples' Communication1
Eboni J. Baugh and Deborah Humphries2
1. This document is FCS2178, one of a series of the Florida Marriage Preparation series, from the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date November 2001. Reviewed October 2006. Revised December 2009; January 2010. Visit the EDIS Web site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. 2. Original written by Deborah Humphries, M.S., extension agent, Taylor County Cooperative Extension Service; revised by Eboni Baugh (2009/10), assistant professor, Department of Family Youth and Community Sciences; Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; University of Florida; Gainesville 32611. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A. & M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Millie Ferrer- Chancy, Interim Dean

In this segment of the Florida Marriage
Preparation series, couples are encouraged to look at
the importance of learning and practicing the
relationship skill of listening—as well as expressing
thoughts and feelings. Other related publications
include the following:
• Couples Considering Parenthood
• Couples Considering A Blended Family
• So You are Getting Married in Florida!
• Your Money Matters
• Conflict Management and Resolution—Can We
Agree?
Overview
Committed couples care about and consistently
work at the quality of their relationship. They realize
that effective communication is important in
strengthening their relationship. Couples who have
healthy marriages love and respect each other and use
many methods to communicate that to each other.
Communication is the Key
Communication is the key to a strong, healthy
relationship. On so many levels, communication
allows partners to exchange messages about love and
other emotions. Effective communication requires
practicing the skills of listening and the expression of
thoughts and feelings. It is much more than talking,
as communication consists of verbal messages (what
you say), contextual issues (how you say it),
emotional tone (why you say it), and even non-verbal
cues (what you don't say).
Listening
Listening is the single most important
communication skill as it is the best way to
understand your partner. A good listener does more
than just hear words; they interpret emotions,
behaviors, and respond appropriately. But, how does
one become a good listener?
A good listener pays attention to his/her partner's
words AND feelings, the action of which sends a
clear message: "You are important to me." It shows
caring and increases the likelihood that your partner
will continue sharing their feelings. When listening to
Can We Talk? Improving Couples' Communication 2
your partner, encourage them to talk about what they
find important. In the event that you do not agree with
their statements, continue to listen without judgment
or placing blame. Remember that good listening does
not include defensiveness; therefore, do not use this as
an opportunity to attack your partner. Good listening
can be the key to defusing current and preventing
future problems that could arise in a couple's
relationship.
Listening requires that you pay attention to the
tone of voice, facial expression, eye contact, and
physical gestures of your partner. It is important to
focus on nonverbal examples of feelings as well as
the...
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