“We need to talk” may be one of the most dreaded sentences in marriages. Marital communication need not be lengthy or heated to produce success, however. In fact, communication researcher Jonathan Pettigrew reported in a study published in 2009 in the journal “Marriage & Family Review” that couples who sent each other text messages experienced increased feelings of connectedness. Understanding why communication is important is the first step to improving communication in your marriage.
Even couples married for 50 years cannot always predict what the other is thinking. Many couples assume their partner “just knows,” but the end result is often just the opposite. University of Florida Extension specialists Eboni Baugh and Deborah Humphries offer a simple solution, “State your thoughts as clearly, honestly, and positively as you can.” Minimizing confusion increases relationship commitment, and commitment is directly related to relationship satisfaction.
Maintains Marriages Through Assurances
Relationship satisfaction is directly related to assurances one partner provides to the other, according to communication researchers Marianne Dainton and Laura Stafford. Assurances reaffirm a partner’s romantic desires for the other and are often demonstrated through kind words or acts of love. Researchers Brandi Frisby and Melanie Booth-Butterfield report in a study published in 2012 in “Communication Quarterly” that couples who engaged in assurances reported both greater marital satisfaction and commitment.
Enhances Marital Satisfaction
Researchers are unanimous: couples who communicate effectively consistently report greater marital satisfaction, and satisfied couples are healthier and consequently live longer. Couples with poor communication are often caught in a vicious cycle where poor communication contributes to marital dissatisfaction, which is exacerbated by the inability to successfully communicate and the cycle -- when not corrected -- degrades the relationship.
Communication is a process, and learning that process brings couples closer. When a couple learns to communicate, they develop a uniquely shared language. Although effective communication is hardly a natural skill, researchers have demonstrated that the quality and quantity of communication improves a relationship. As a couple, conduct your own experiment with different approaches and remember the process can be fun and productive.
- Marriage and Family Review: Text Messaging and Connectedness Within Close Interpersonal Relationships
- Communication Quarterly: The ‘‘How’’ and ‘‘Why’’ of Flirtatious Communication Between Marital Partners
- Family Process: Predicting Divorce Among Newlyweds from the First Three Minutes of a Marital Conflict Discussion
- Psychological Bulletin: Marriage and Health: His and Hers
- Journal of Social and Personal Relationships: The Effect of Communication Quality and Quantity Indicators on Intimacy and Relational Satisfaction
- Communication Research Reports: Predicting Maintenance Enactment From relational Schemata, Spousal Behavior, and Relational Characteristics
- Family Process: Communication, Conflict, and Commitment: Insights on the Foundations of Relationship Success from a National Survey
- Marital Communication; Douglas Kelley
- The Marriage and Family Experience: Intimate Relationship in a Changing Society; Bryan Strong et al.
Dana Bagwell has worked in the research-and-development field for more than a decade. His work has covered gerontology, cognitive assessments, health education interventions, social science theory and research methods. Bagwell has also contributed to several scholarly publications, including "Experimental Aging Research" and "Clinical Interventions in Aging." He has a bachelor's degree in psychology and is completing his doctorate in health policy.