Paul: Vicki, you're a communications expert. There's probably a lot of reasons why communication is so challenging in a marriage. There are a lot of reasons. How about we do the top 5?

Vicki: Sounds good.

Paul: You good? Should we start with the fifth?

Vicki: Yeah. Let's talk.

Paul: Number 5. People are different. This is good, actually though differences create conflict. Any time you bring two people together they have different preferences or backgrounds or programming and ways they communicate. Differences are important to relationships because they give meaning to the relationship. They make us relevant and interesting to each other, but that can create conflict as well. That conflict often emerges in the communication patterns.

Vicki: Reason number 4, language is tricky. Picking the right word, finding the right emphasis. But here's the thing that I think is so important to remember. I recently read a study that anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of all our communication is nonverbal. It's not even the words we say. So, it's really easy to interpret it wrong, because one little look, one little hand cross. one look away, maybe it’s an eyelash, but it looks like you are rolling your eyes at someone. There's so much that can be misinterpreted, and so, that makes it tricky. Sometimes communication is just hard because so much of what we're saying aren't the actual words.

Paul: The inflections make a difference. We've done seminars before. Do you remember that phrase that we have people repeat? The phrase is, “I didn't tell her you were crazy.” And if you emphasize different words the meaning changes.

I” didn't tell her you were crazy.

I DIDN’T tell her you were crazy.

I didn't tell HER you are crazy.

I didn't tell her YOU are crazy.

I didn't tell her you WERE crazy.

I didn't tell her you were CRAZY.

Vicki: You could change it so much by all of the nonverbal cues. Language is tricky. Just remember that sometimes it can be misinterpreted.

Paul: When we react to something that we have received in a communication, we are reacting to our perception of it. Not necessarily what was intended or sent to us. I've got a model that I share with couples all the time, where there's the sender and the receiver. The communication travels from the sender to the receiver. But to get there, it has to go through encoding, a whole lot of noise. And if message A is intended, message B is what is heard, I'm going to respond over here to B, not A. And so, Vicki, when you and I communicate, I respond to what I think you said, not necessarily what you meant. That gets me in trouble all the time. In the coaching that I do with couples.

Number 3, number 3 on our countdown is one of the most powerful strategies that I could possibly share with you. First, the reason, okay? The reason why communication can be so complicated in a marriage is that we are committed to getting our point across.

Vicki: Making sure they know what we're thinking.

Paul: And in doing so, we overrun whatever it is that they are trying to do. Here's the strategy: Postpone your need to be understood, long enough that your spouse is completely satisfied that you get their position. They know you understand where they are coming from. This isn't easy to do.

Vicki: You know, I think a lot of times feel like… But I might forget what I wanted to say before that. The point to that is maybe if you did forget it, it wasn't as important as you thought in the first place.

Paul: Oh, but we are so committed to it. We really want to make sure that they understand, right? Or we want to clear it up. I was talking to a couple yesterday about this where they really just wanted to make sure that they cleared the record, that they set the record straight. Because they are so committed to that, they don't hear anything that their spouse is saying. The communication just goes off of a cliff.

Vicki: The number 2 reason that communication can be so hard in a marriage is that there's just a lot of noise. So, remember there's a sender and a receiver and there's all this stuff that's happening in between. Now, that noise can be actual noise. Maybe the TV is on. Maybe you've noticed people walking by and so you keep missing the eye contact, you know, I do that sometimes. I noticed that I'm looking away. But there's also stuff inside your head. A lot of the times I'm assigning meaning to everything he's saying before he's finished even saying it.

Paul: Right, and she can tell me what I'm thinking. I don't always recognize it as what I'm actually thinking.

Vicki: Yeah.

Paul: But that's the point because we have the noise. Vicki, when you said it could be physical noise in the environment, seriously people, turn off the television. If you are trying to have a conversation with a member of your family, why is the television blaring? I've been over to visit people before where they are trying to talk to me and the television is blaring. It just blows my mind. Turn off the TV. Let's see if we can get the noise calm down. You mentioned that some of it is internal. We can't get completely away from that though you can at least acknowledge that it's there. The strategy or the trick that we work on in our coaching is listen to understand. You are not listening to form your rebuttal. You are simply trying to understand so that A equals A. The sender and the receiver have exactly the same message, and that's a pretty good challenge. If you can accomplish that, you win. The number 1 reason Vicki, that I think communication is challenging in a marriage, is we know that we are right. And that is probably the number one reason we get stuck in this pattern of destructive pride where we're not really open to other people. I think if we humble ourselves a little bit which means giving up our need to be right in exchange for being open. That enhances the communication tremendously. Our relationships really are the most important thing that we have.

Jump on a breakthrough call with one of our coaches at if you need help with communication or anything else in your personal development. Let's get you talking to a member of our team and we'll find something that fits you and what you are looking for.