A Penny for Your Thoughts – Two Bits of Advice on Communication in Your Marriage


Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin. Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

God First. Think of a triangle with God at the top, each of you occupying equal corners.

Team. You’re on the same team, don’t act like opposing chess players but like partners in a bridge card game. You are communicating to win together.

Outcome. Your goal is to find a win-win resolution.

Listen. Agree to use reflective listening to reflect back to each other what is said BEFORE you comment.

Support. Never assault; consider yourself team members looking for a solution. No name calling.

Choice. Love is a choice; choose wisely. Remember, you control your reactions.

Commit. Promise to act lovingly to each other, even when your feeling varies.

Reminiscence. Write down your romantic, loving feelings from when you first married. Read these fond memories to each other before starting a complicated conversation. Don’t forget.

Repeat. Re-decided to show your partner you love him or her.

Open Ended Questions Only. Open-ended questions allow your partner to give his or her thoughts in their words and help you empathize with your spouse. Start with “how …, what …. , describe …., tell me about…, or what do you think about…” Avoid questions that give advice or can be answered with a yes or no.

Sorry. Love does mean saying you are sorry.

Forgive. Don’t go to bed mad.

No “S’s.” That is, no “should” or “shouldn’t.” You are not talking to your kids; you should/should not be condescending statements and create defensive reactions.

Short. Make comments short and with feelings. “I felt really loved just now when you….” “I felt sad today when you….” “I feel angry toward you right now because….” It’s tough to disagree about how you feel.

Feelings. Tell your spouse how you feel: slighted, ignored, loved, scared, worried, supported, rejected, sad, lonely, or tired.

Today. Talk about and share about what happened today, not yesterday. Your discussions should not be a history lesson.

Nothing is absolute. “You never” and “You always” is bringing up the past, accusatory, and not dealing with today or your feelings.

Decisive. What does “I’ll try” mean? Does it mean that it is ok if “I don’t”? When you say “I can’t,” do you mean “I won’t”?

Honest. Be truthful about what you will and won’t do. Own your decisions.

The Crystal Ball is broken. Your spouse can not read your mind. Ask your partner what was meant by the statement or actions. Remember to use reflective listening.

Boundaries. Mutually agree on topics that are off limits and why.

Personal. Focus on your feelings, and avoid criticizing your partner’s limitations. Remember, neither of you is perfect.

Unconditional. Remember your marriage vows: to cherish one another, to stick together through thick and thin, and an absolute declaration that you have found your one true love.

Pray for each other. Often.

HELP. Ask for help. You have years of bad habits and practices that may have left years of scars. Find a Christian Counselor to help you build your communication skills.

Your goal as an adult couple is to be able to discuss your opinions and disagreements while listening to each other to come to an agreement, a compromise, an apology, or forgiveness.

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesian 4:29 (NLT)

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin. Call us with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637.

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