Practical Relationship Advice

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated October 16, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Communication is often the foundation of many successful marriages, but maintaining good communication can be difficult when life gets hectic. Responsibilities and stress from everyday life can take a toll on your relationship, but there may be some things you can do to improve how you communicate with your partner. Prioritizing date nights, making sure to talk openly about your feelings, and ensuring both partners feel appreciated can make a big difference in nurturing a healthy relationship. Remember, every relationship requires effort and commitment to keep the love alive and make the relationship stronger.

When couples don't communicate effectively, they can find themselves in a cycle of misunderstandings and hurt feelings that can lead to resentment, a negative relationship, or even divorce. As negative communication patterns become entrenched, it may become more challenging to break the cycle and find a positive way of communicating.

Fortunately, healthy communication doesn't have to be out of reach. With a few new skills and best advice for improving communication, and some practice and patience, you may be able to build a strong foundation for a happy marriage. No matter your relationship goals, communication can often enhance your connection and help you both feel appreciated, fostering more satisfying romantic relationships with your partner and best friend. Continue reading to learn how you can improve communication within your marriage.

Understanding The Importance Of Communication In Your Marriage

One step in improving communication is understanding why it's important. Communication in a relationship can help you stay connected to your partner so feelings of love, respect, and appreciation can flourish. Open and honest communication can also help couples identify problems that arise and better work together to solve them, as a relationship requires teamwork.

When couples don't communicate effectively, each person may feel lonely or disconnected. This can lead to misunderstandings, assumptions, and unhealthy arguments that can damage the relationship.

In addition, effective communication can also help couples work through difficult conversations like finances, parenting issues, like gift ideas and budget for their children, sexual health, and planning for the future. It's important to remember that even when disagreements occur, it can be possible to have a respectful conversation without attacking each other or using hurtful language.

Marital burnout can occur when stress is not managed effectively in a relationship. A women's health study found that improved communication skills can increase marital satisfaction and reduce marital conflict. Practicing effective communication can help couples navigate challenges, reduce stress, and preserve their relationship.

Understanding the underlying causes of marital burnout and taking proactive steps to improve communication can help couples strengthen their relationship and make their relationship work. Many couples find that understanding and practicing basic communication skills can be beneficial for building a solid and healthy partnership.

Identifying Common Mistakes In Communication

Sometimes couples slip into unhelpful communication patterns without even realizing it. Recognizing common mistakes, such as unrealistic expectations or deciding to hide things from each other, can help couples identify and address negative communication patterns before they escalate. Seeking relationship advice may also provide guidance on how to maintain healthy communication and foster strong relationships.

  • Going to bed angry: One of the most common tips for dating and marriage is not to go to bed angry, as unresolved issues can fester and lead to further misunderstandings. Often considered some of the best relationship advice, this rule is at the cornerstone of many healthy relationships. Addressing issues calmly before bedtime can help alleviate tension and promote a better connection between partners so you both end the day feeling at peace.
  • Criticism: Criticism is a common issue in communication that can erode trust and lead to defensiveness. Instead of focusing on what your partner did wrong, expressing your feelings in an objective way using "I statements" rather than “you statements” (e.g., "I felt hurt when…" versus “You made me feel…”) can help navigate conflict without causing additional hurt.
  • Not Listening: If a partner isn't listening to their spouse, it can lead to feelings of frustration and resentment. When partners actively listen to each other, they can better understand the feelings and needs of their spouse.
  • Interrupting: Interrupting your partner can be seen as disrespectful and may prevent them from fully expressing themselves. Listening intently and allowing your partner to finish their thoughts without interruption helps create an environment for open communication.
  • Negative body language: Body language can reveal a lot about how one partner is feeling. For example, rolling your eyes or crossing your arms when speaking to your partner may appear dismissive or unsupportive. Becoming aware of body language, both in yourself and in your spouse, can help create an atmosphere of respect and understanding.
  • Lashing out: While it can be difficult to control our emotions in the heat of the moment, frequently lashing out at your spouse is not productive. Learning to express your feelings constructively can help couples work through disagreements without creating further mistrust or animosity.

These common communication mistakes can be hard to break, but couples can create a safe and respectful communication space through practice and patience.

Strategies For Improving Communication

Open communication is a skill that many people must practice in order to master. Here are a few tips for improving communication in your marriage and even your other relationships:

  1. Set aside time to talk: Setting aside "just us" time each day or week to talk without screens or distractions can help create an atmosphere where both parties feel heard and understood. Consider date ideas where the two of you can participate in conversation; maybe you can go for a long walk by the river instead of sitting through a movie.
  2. Practice active listening: Listening without judgment or interruption can help validate your partner's feelings and perspectives. Showing interest in what they have to say by using positive body language and constructive feedback is a great way to demonstrate support.
  3. Avoid assumptions: Assuming you know how your partner feels or what they think can lead to misunderstandings. Instead, asking questions and being direct can help ensure that both partners understand each other's feelings, needs, and perspectives.
  4. Express gratitude: Expressing appreciation for your partner can help create an environment of gratitude and respect. Acknowledging the small things your partner does can also help to strengthen the connection you have by expressing gratitude for your partner's efforts. Happy couples often say thank you to their partners throughout the day.
  5. Validate feelings: People have different ways of expressing themselves, and we should respect those feelings. Validating your partner's emotions can help create a sense of safety for open communication.
  6. Keep an open mind: Open-mindedness paves the way for healthy communication and mutual understanding. Being willing to compromise and view things from your partner's perspective can help create a respectful exchange of ideas. Realize there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship. Read relationship quotes or a related story online to practice mindfulness and become more open about new ideas.

By actively working to improve communication in your marriage, you can build trust and foster understanding with your partner. However, it's important to remember that communication is often an ongoing practice; it takes time, effort, and understanding to develop strong communication skills in any relationship. Having patience with yourself and your partner during this process can create a foundation for building stronger, healthier relationships.

Overcoming Negative Communication Patterns

Learning to communicate in a healthy way can be difficult, especially when there are negative patterns already established. Communication patterns that involve criticism, name-calling, or manipulation can create a hostile environment and lead to further disconnection.

To create a healthy communication environment, it can be beneficial for couples to identify and address negative patterns. Here are a few tips for overcoming these patterns:

  • Practice self-awareness: Identifying your own triggers and understanding the emotions that come up can help to create a space for self-reflection and emotional control.
  • Foster empathy: Before speaking, taking a moment to consider how your words may affect your partner can help to create a space for empathy. Understanding how your words may make your partner feel can help foster compassion and understanding.
  • Make amends: If you've said something unkind, taking responsibility for your words and apologizing can be beneficial. Taking ownership of your behavior and communicating a sincere apology can help create an atmosphere of understanding and mutual respect in a relationship.
  • Critique constructively: Instead of criticizing your partner, offering constructive feedback rooted in kindness and respect can help foster growth and healing.
  • Allow space: It can be beneficial to set boundaries and allow room for your partner to process their feelings. Making sure each person has the time they need to express themselves can help create a safe environment for communication.Take time to do your own thing and practice self care.

Positive change often takes time, and couples should be patient with themselves and each other as they work to establish healthier communication patterns. Open dialogue, validation, and compromise are all helpful components for creating an emotionally safe space for both partners. Above all, remember that communication is a two-way street and usually requires effort from both parties to be successful.

If you can't seem to break out of negative patterns on your own, you may want to consider seeking professional help. Online therapy can provide a safe and secret space for couples to learn effective communication skills with the help of a licensed therapist. Through online therapy, you can work together to build trust, create understanding, and cultivate a more loving partnership.

A 2020 study indicates online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy. This research notes that online therapy may even give couples a greater sense of control or comfort, which can lead to a more successful therapeutic experience. The ability to explore communication skills online with a licensed therapist can provide couples with the support and guidance they need to improve their relationship.


Healthy communication often involves more than just speaking. Active listening, awareness, and empathy can all be helpful components for creating a respectful, supportive environment in your relationship.

Breaking negative communication patterns early can make the process of improving communication in your marriage much easier. As resentment and anger build, it can become much more difficult to have productive conversations. Once negative patterns have been identified and addressed, couples may work together to create a space for understanding and compromise so both people can feel satisfied that they are investing in the best relationship possible.

If you and your partner are struggling to make progress on your own, online therapy may be an effective way to explore communication techniques with the help of a licensed professional.

No matter where couples are in their relationship journey, healthy communication can be critical in creating and maintaining a strong bond. Taking steps to create an emotionally safe space can help couples improve communication and build a strong foundation for a loving partnership where your mental health can thrive.

Build healthy relationship habits with a professional

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started