6 Communication Tips For Couples

6 Communication Tips For Couples

In my counseling work with couples I have found that difficulties with communication are a key stumbling block to building and maintaining a healthy relationship.

This article outlines a few communication tips based on what couples have found helpful in communicating their needs. This straightforward model, outlined below, helps you convey what you see as a problem, how you feel about it, what you want, and what you will do if it doesn’t happen. It is designed to be clear, concise, non-emotional, and non-judgmental. People who use this model find that communication is less likely to get off track and become attacking.

  1. Try to use “I” rather than “you” statements.

When_______________(situation or behavior)

Try to leave out “You” statements such as ‘You never, you always, you should have’…as this can make the other person become immediately defensive and start the “blame game.”

“When… I am yelled at like this… I am treated like this… I don’t get a response from you… my feelings are not taken into consideration.”


  1. State how you feel.

Saying, “I feel” gives the other person information about how the situation or comment affects you. It also helps you validate yourself and helps you feel more empowered.

I feel _______________.

Try to state both secondary and primary feelings. Secondary feelings (anger) are the result of a primary feeling (shamed, belittled).

“I feel… angry… hurt… belittled… humiliated… taken advantage of… unappreciated… abandoned… not taken into consideration… unimportant… disrespected… minimized.”


  1. State what you want.

It is important to let the other person know what it is that you want from them in terms of behavioral change.

I want ______________.

What it is that you want from the other person.

“I want … to be talked to in a respectful tone of voice… to be acknowledged and appreciated for what I do right… to feel loved and accepted… this mess picked up as soon as possible… a heads-up when you are going to be late… to feel more supported around your family… to feel that my feelings are recognized, and taken into consideration… to have some say in these decisions… you to stop yelling at me…to be treated with respect.”


  1. State what you will do if your wishes are not met.

If the other person ignores you, says, “no”, is passive-aggressive, or blows you off, you will need to consider using this step. “Or I will need to . . .”   is not to be used as a threat or a punishment, but is what you will do to take care of yourself without the cooperation of the other person.

Or I will need to _____________.

“Or I will need to… leave the room… leave the house… will need to make other plans next time… start considering other options… to other ways to take better care of myself… call the police.”

The most powerful tool you have at this point is to stop interacting with the other person if they keep persisting. Keep in mind that you must follow through with what you say you will do.

When the subject is being changed many times and the other person is trying to throw you off track by bringing up all of your other past sins and trying to get you confused, keep the focus on the main topic, the one in the present moment, which keeps the conversation in the “here and now.”

“Lets keep our discussion on the topic we started with.”


  1. Reinforce Efforts at Change

Be grateful for any efforts at improving the relationship. Some studies . . . have shown that gratitude benefits both the giver and the receiver,” according to Todd Reed, a communication author and coach. “When either of you does something nice for the other – lets you sleep in, washes the dishes when it’s your turn – take a second to show appreciation. Even if you’re just saying thanks for the small stuff, it can go a long way in solidifying your relationship.”


  1. Get Help

Sometimes emotions can get in the way of healthy communication. If you feel that you have already tried some of these tips and have been unsuccessful- do not assume that the situation is hopeless. Everyone needs help, once in a while, so consider either individual counseling to learn and practice these skills, and/or couples counseling if your partner is willing to give it a try.


If we can help in any way, give us a call at 401-284-2933.






Summary: Article on 6 Communication Tips For Couples to argue less and love more.