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Communication is Your Foundation

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First and foremost Congratulations, on your engagement! You are embarking on a wonderful journey “Together!” I am both honored and excited to share with you some important communication skills and information that I have learned in my recent Interpersonal Communications class, on how to communicate effectively and make your relationship as wonderful as possible- I will give you five key elements to do so. The five elements in making any relationship successful are: listen, watch what you say, understand, disclose, and manage. If you are able to do these five things, you will be on the right path to making this a marriage that lasts! Marriages should be built on communication and it should definitely be the foundation. Believe it or not your communication skills with one another can determine whether or not you marriage with prosper or perish.

You will not be flawless when it comes to communicating but this letter will hopefully teach you rewarding ways to be effective at it, which you will find to be very important in your marriage. I am excited to have the opportunity to share with you the tools that I have during my class. It is my hope that this information will be useful for you two during your journey. Develop strategies for active, critical, and empathetic listening. Listening to your partner is very important, but when I say listen to them I do not mean just hear the words they are saying to you. Actively hearing and participating with your ears and mind are very important. Active listening involves: having the motivation to listen, clearly hearing the message behind the words, paying attention, interpreting the message, evaluating the message, and remembering and responding appropriately. (Sole, K. 2011) So you see, listening is not the easiest thing in the world nor does it come quickly. “Being preoccupied with one’s own responsibilities and trying to listen while at the same time assessing and framing a reply are barriers to deep listening.

One cannot do all these at the same time and pay attention to someone in need.” (Wright, 2006) Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the world around you, but you may find that by allowing yourself a chance to listen freely with nothing burdening you, your communication with your spouse will be open and honest. “Making a connection and partnering in a profound intimate relationship is critical, as it supports the potential for healing and compassion- for hearing the sound of another’s heart, as well as the sound of one’s own.” (Browning & Waite 2010) Some techniques that you can implement into your daily routine to ensure that you are listening to your partner can include: Make eye contact when listening, do not interrupt when they are trying to speak, look for non-verbal cues, and let go of your own agenda. (Stritof, B&S 2008) Remember the key to effective communication is learning how to listen effectively! Words have the power to bring two people closer together and the power to tear them apart. The way a person interprets the words that are spoken is just as important as the way the speaker perceives what they are saying.

Using specific words can affect the attitude of a person either positively or negatively. The best piece of advice I can give to you is to choose your words very carefully. Your choice in words can affect the behavior of your spouse and their perception of you as a person. “Sometimes we may not be aware that words we have said have hurt someone deeply even though it was never the intention.” (Yian, L.G. 2007) Watching what we say and the context in which we say it may help to avoid arguments that were completely avoidable. Perception is the way you think about something or the way you understand it. Everyone perceives things differently. Understanding how your partner takes things will help you to avoid many disasters. The same goes for their emotions. If you know how your partner will emotionally react to something before you communicate, you may also be able to avoid conflict. Getting to know how your future spouse feels about many things will aid you in the understanding on how to approach certain situations.

Nonverbal communication involves many things. Facial expressions, tone, and the body- language you exude can help to get you point across when trying to communicate effectively. Not unlike spoken words, nonverbal communication can be misjudged and interpreted incorrectly. (Sole, K. 2011) Make sure to take care when you communicate with your partner and watch how they react to what you are saying with the nonverbal cues they give off. Matthews, W. states, “Nonverbal expressions include the way you dress, your posture, body tension, facial expressions, degree of eye contact, hand and body movements, tone of voice, the amount of physical space between you and the other person, variations of speech, and any kind of touch.” Also remember that when you are using modern technology such as cellular devices and computers to communicate, some things you may communicate might be taken the wrong way if you aren’t careful to explain meaning. Perception and nonverbal communication are thrown off while a technological medium is being used for communication. In marriage, there is not really a boundary of self-disclosure.

In self-disclosure, you choose how much information about yourself to share with the other person. (Sole, K. 2011) Marriage is about sharing yourself completely with another person. It is also a learning experience, where you learn about another person for the rest of your life. There is a quote from the movie Fireproof that I find totally applicable to this situation. “When a man is trying to win the heart of a woman, he studies her; he learns her likes, dislikes, habits and hobbies. But after he wins her heart and marries her, he often stops learning about her. If the amount he studied her before marriage was equal to a high school degree, he should continue to learn about her until he gains a college degree, a master’s degree and ultimately a doctorate degree. It is a lifelong journey that draws his heart ever closer to hers.” (Kendrick, A. 2008)

Marriage is not about learning to hide things from your spouse, it is about being able to love one person enough to share all of yourself. It is in self-disclosure that we find our souls connected to one another. As you share pieces of yourself through self-disclosure you not only become connected to that other person but more in tune to feelings you may not have realized that you had. (Sole, K. 2011) Fear of being rejected or criticized sometimes prevents us from sharing things with others. In a marriage, there should not be this fear. You need to continuously be able to risk your emotions for your spouse.

Describe strategies for managing interpersonal conflicts. Managing the personal conflicts between you and your partner are sometimes difficult. But there are some strategies that you can utilize to help you manage them most effectively. Conflict is unavoidable. You must remember that. Making sure you remember how much you love your partner and why you married them in the first place can help you avoid some sources of conflict. But for those times when it seems like the arguments are out of control, putting some well-placed humor in the conversation, showing some affection and reminding your spouse how much you care for them may help to dissolve the anger in the situation and allow you both to start the conversation again. (Sole, K. 2011)

Another key way of avoiding conflict is to assess if you are the one instigating all of the issues at hand. Realizing your own contributions to the problems and figuring out how to avoid them in general would be a big help to your relationship. Sometimes our nonverbal behaviors are the source of conflict and we may not even realize it.

There are three specific things to avoid when trying to avoid conflict in your marriage. Silence, placating, and playing games are all ways to venture further into marital conflict. Silence may be golden at times, but during a conflict this is not the case. Most people tend to resort to silence when they do not know how to confront a situation. When someone enacts their silence as a way of coping with conflict, this can increase the problems and prolong them indefinitely. When a partner ignores you as a way of coping, you tend to feel invisible and unwanted. (Sole, K. 2011) Placating someone is almost as detrimental to a relationship. When you do things just to avoid conflict or to appease your partner, you can get lost and conflict can arise. Speaking what’s on your mind will help to avoid further conflict. Playing games with someone’s emotions and feelings is uncalled for. When you engage in mid games by trying to get what you want out of a situation you are just causing more problems than there were to begin with.

Avoiding these three conflict causing things can help you manage conflict. Marriage is not easy. In fact, it may just be the most difficult but rewarding thing you have ever done. The five elements in making any relationship successful are: listen, watch what you say, understand, disclose, and manage. If you can use the strategies that I have given you, you will have more open communication with your partner, which in turn can lead you to a longer and happier marriage. A happy marriage is definitely built on the foundation of communication. It is known to be the determining factor of whether or not your marriage will survive or perish.

Although you may not be able to claim of being good at communicating it’s very important for both of you to learn to communicate and to do it effectively. It is my hope that the two of you will find my tips very helpful on your journey. Thank you for allowing me to take part in making sure that your foundation is secure, and to help you with your communication efforts with one another. Always remember that the very foundation to a successful, happy, and positive marriage is communication. Good luck on the adventure you are about to embark upon, and if you find yourself at a crossroads with your communication- do not be afraid to seek a marriage counselor!


Bevan, J. L., & Sole, K. (2014). Making connections: Understanding interpersonal communication (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Browning, S., & Waite, R. (2010). The gift of listening: Just Listening Strategies. NursingForum, 45(3), 150-158. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6198.2010.00179.x Kendrick, A. & S. (Producers/Directors) (2008) Fireproof [Motion Picture].Albany, GA. SamuelGoldwyn Films. Matthews, W. (1993). Expressing Feelings. North Carolina State University College of agriculture & life sciences. Retrieved from http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/pdfs/fcs2764.pdf Stritof, B. & S. (n.d.) Listening Skills: True Listening Can Be a Challenge. Retrieved fromhttp://marriage.about.com/cs/listening/a/listeningskills.htm Yian, L. (2007). From the editor’s desk. Words that heal; words that hurt. Singapore NursingJournal, 34(1), 3.

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