Marriage counseling for overcoming communication barriers


Effective communication is the cornerstone of a healthy and fulfilling marital relationship. However, many couples face significant communication barriers that hinder their ability to express themselves and understand each other’s perspectives. Marriage counseling for overcoming communication barriers provides a valuable opportunity for couples to address these barriers and develop essential skills for effective communication. By following the guidelines outlined for the speaker and listener roles, couples can overcome these challenges and foster intimacy and connection within their relationship.

Strategies for Marriage counseling for overcoming communication barriers are:

Soften Start-up:

In a relationship, the initial three minutes of discussing an issue with your partner hold great significance. When conversations begin with accusations or negativity, the chances of a negative outcome are higher.

The concept of a “soft startup,” introduced by marriage therapist John Gottman, Ph.D., is about initiating discussions in a positive manner, leading to better conflict resolution. By approaching your partner calmly and respectfully, the focus shifts to resolving the problem rather than assigning blame.

Choosing the Right Topic and the right time:

In marriage counseling, couples are advised to select a topic of moderate emotional intensity. This approach ensures that the experience is more likely to be successful, allowing couples to build competence and confidence in their communication skills.

When discussing important matters with your partner, it’s crucial to pick a calm and peaceful time for the conversation. Look for a moment when both of you can be alone, away from any distractions or interruptions. Additionally, make sure that you and your partner are feeling relaxed and at ease, avoiding the discussion when either of you is tired, hungry, or stressed.

Guidelines for the Speaker

Initiate with ‘I’ instead of ‘You’.

The speaker is encouraged to express how a problem personally affects him/her by initiating the conversation with ‘I’ instead of ‘You’.

For Instance:

Without I statement: You lazy idiot. Do you think I like acting as your servant all the time?

With I statement: I’m unhappy because you left the cleaning part to me, it will be much better if we both do it together.

Including Emotions:

Often, individuals tend to communicate their thoughts or memories without fully expressing their emotions. Therapists may need to help individuals identify and appropriately express their key emotions related to the issue being discussed.

For instance”

Without emotion: You are always on the phone, you don’t talk to me.

With emotion: I feel lonely when we don’t talk.

I feel loved when you keep your hand on my shoulders when we watch movies.

Including the Partner:

To promote intimacy and connection, the speaker is encouraged to share their feelings about and towards their partner in relation to the addressed issue. This inclusive approach fosters empathy and understanding.

“You are such a lousy driver. Would you please slow down before you kill us?”

 “I know how much you enjoy driving fast. But it makes me really nervous when you go over the speed limit. Could you please slow down?”

Maintaining Balance:

While addressing negative events and emotions, the speaker is encouraged to access and include positive emotions they may have towards their partner. By expressing softer emotions alongside negative ones, the speaker can foster a more constructive dialogue.

For instance: “Thank you for helping me in cooking last night. Would there be any way you could pick me up today from church? I understand and appreciate how much you’ve been doing lately.”

Appropriate Specificity:

To avoid overwhelming the listener, the speaker should identify and describe specific emotions and thoughts related to the issue at hand. This clarity facilitates better understanding.

Speaking in Paragraphs:

By organizing their thoughts into paragraphs, the speaker enables the listener to process information more effectively. Focusing on one main idea at a time enhances comprehension and engagement

Guidelines for the Listener

Demonstrating Understanding and Acceptance:

While the speaker is sharing, the listener must convey understanding and acceptance through tone of voice, facial expressions, and gestures. It is essential to clarify that acceptance does not equate to agreement, as partners can maintain differing viewpoints while validating each other’s experiences.

Empathy and Perspective-Taking:

Instead of listening solely from their own perspective, the listener should strive to put themselves in the speaker’s shoes. By tuning in to the speaker’s experiences and concerns, the listener can gain a deeper understanding of their partner’s point of view.

Reflective Summaries:

Once the speaker has finished, the listener should attempt to summarize what they heard by capturing the speaker’s central emotions, thoughts, dilemmas, and concerns. This process goes beyond simple repetition and demonstrates active listening and comprehension.


Effective communication is vital for a successful marriage, and Marriage counseling for overcoming communication barriers is a crucial aspect. By following the guidelines provided for the speaker and listener roles, couples can enhance their ability to express themselves, understand each other, and build a stronger emotional connection. Through practice, patience, and the guidance of a skilled therapist, couples can overcome communication challenges and lay the foundation for a healthier and more fulfilling relationship.

Source: Cognitive Behavioural Couple Therapy, Worrel, M. (2015).


Image Source: Image by Freepik

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top