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This topic is adapted from the Dana M. Fillmore, PsyD YouTube channel.

Communication Is Key

Communication is the number one issue that couples want to improve in their marriage, according to marriage counselor Dr. Dana Fillmore. The reality is that neither you nor your spouse will make these improvements overnight. When one person fails, it’s easy for the other to become frustrated. Improving communication, then, becomes an issue of developing patience. Humor and grace go a long way in being patient with each other and improving communication.

[Related: 10 Tips for a Happy Marriage]

Laugh a Little

Use humor. Marriage is difficult and sometimes even annoying, but that makes a lot of room for humor. Laugh about your situations and your mistakes in communication. If you can laugh together, it will make whatever problem you face better and easier to solve. Humor will diffuse tension, make you more receptive, and help you feel connected.

Show Grace

Give your spouse a moment of grace. You and your spouse will both fail at improving your communication, reacting defensively or judgmentally. Instead of assuming the worst of each other, pause and remember that your spouse most likely just made a mistake. You have a choice to approach the situation with love and laughter. This is where the moment of grace comes in. Before you get angry, lovingly and kindly remind yourself and your spouse of the new way you’ve agreed to communicate. Say something like, “This is one of those things we’re working on. Let’s try it the new way.” This gives them the chance to try again in a kind and loving way. Most pain inflicted in a relationship is accidental, so give your spouse the benefit of the doubt.

[Related: How’s Your Marriage Doing?]

It may seem like improving communication means improvement in other areas too, but think of humor and grace, which lead to patience, as communication tools. Focusing on these areas alongside others will ultimately help you improve the number one issue for couples: communication.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. In what ways would you like to improve your communication in your marriage?
  4. What role might humor and grace play in patience and communication in your marriage?
  5. Can you think of any situations that could have benefited from humor and grace? Explain.
  6. Can you think of a situation that did benefit from humor or grace? What happened?
  7. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.