When it comes to communication skills for couples, would you say you and your significant other have it all figured out?
Do you already have all the keys to a successful relationship?
Or would you like to know some brilliant couples communications exercises to make your time together more healing and enjoyable?
What aspects of your relationship or marriage would you like to improve?
- Spending more time doing things that draw you closer together
- Cultivating or repairing trust?
- Communicating your needs, hopes, and concerns with each other?
- Understanding what your significant other needs?
- Setting a better example of loving communication for your kids (and others)?
Communication skills for couples should help you improve in all these areas. One of the best things about couples therapy exercises for communication in this article is that you can do them wherever you both feel most comfortable. You don't have to visit a therapist's office.
Why Is Communication In Relationships So Important?
Most marriages that end in divorce do so because of poor communication; it takes two to address the problems that are eating away at the relationship.
The good news?
Effective marriage communication exercises can turn the tide and help you both regain what you lost and build a relationship that can withstand any challenge.
But why is communication so important to your relationship? Here are some of the reasons:
- To address misunderstandings that could lead to alienation and resentment.
- To repair the damage from negative or toxic communication patterns (silent treatment, scolding/nagging, yelling, name-calling, blaming)
- To learn new and more effective communication patterns
- To model healthy communication techniques for children (and others)
- To lay or strengthen the foundation for a satisfying lifelong commitment
Are you ready to learn some powerful couple communication exercises for you and your significant other?
Are you committed to giving them a try to see what they can do to transform your relationship and make you both happier?
If your spouse or partner isn’t on board yet, you could try inviting him or her with a heartfelt handwritten (or typed) invitation to test one of the following exercises this week.
What do you have to lose?
How to Practice Couple Communication Exercises
Working on your relationship and enhancing your communication skills can't be something you do on the fly. Committing to these exercises is important and valuable work that will pay off in a stronger, closer connection.
Before you practice any of the exercises below, consider the following.
- Find a quiet, distraction-free place without interruptions from kids or work.
- Commit to each other that you will work on these exercises with a positive attitude.
- If an exercise feels awkward or goofy, give it a shot anyway. You may be surprised by what you learn about one another.
- If you hit a rough spot that triggers one or both of you, move on to another exercise and work on the difficulty with a couple's counselor.
- Make notes or keep a journal about your experiences with these exercises and how they impact your relationship.
Ready to get started? Here are some relationship exercises for couple's communication that will be fun and enlightening.
13 Powerful Communication Exercises for Couples
Look through each of these and visualize yourself and your spouse or partner trying it out and coming away from it with a renewed or more lively interest in growing closer and meeting each other’s needs.
1. Have a “fireside chat.”
Ever since President Franklin D. Roosevelt held these to connect with the American people — giving his talks the name “fireside chats” to evoke the image of a friendly chat with the president in front of a crackling fire — this term conveys warmth, openness, and a say-anything atmosphere.
So, choose a spot that’s comfortable for you both, get yourselves each a drink of something nice, and settle in for a friendly chat.
It’s important that you eliminate distractions for these talks with your significant other, so you can give each other your undivided attention, and each can feel free to say whatever is on your mind.
2. Reframe and repair.
We all have our baggage, and it doesn’t take long in a love relationship for one of you to say something that makes the other feel insulted, criticized, or devalued in some way.
So, set aside some time to give each of you the chance to calmly bring up one hurtful statement or insult spoken by the other, so you can both work on rephrasing the intent behind those words in a more loving way.
This exercise is meant to provide a safe space for dealing with past hurts that one or the other is still having a hard time getting past or letting go of.
The one who gave the insult then has a chance to find another way to express the frustration, anger, or hurt that he/she feels (or felt) while offering a sincere apology for the pain caused by his/her words.
3. Take turns (with a timer).
Sometimes it helps to establish time limits and to give each person a chance to speak without interruption from the other. If it’s your turn to listen, resist the temptation to explain something or offer excuses for whatever you said or did that has hurt or angered the other.
You can also take turns talking about the great things about your day (your highs) and one thing that knocked you down a peg (lows).
Again, if it’s your turn to listen, you can express support, understanding, and affection using nonverbal gestures — but hold your tongue until your partner’s time is up.
Between turns, you can both thoughtfully process what each has said. Both are allowed to talk during these times but only to empathize and, if necessary, offer humble and heartfelt apologies and decide on something you’ll do to avoid repeating a hurtful mistake — or to make things better.
4. Keep a “You & Me” journal.
Choose a notebook that you can both comfortably write in and take turns writing messages to each other.
You can use this journal for random love notes, to express appreciation for something, or to express a strong emotion about something without blaming or judging the other.
Think of how the other person will feel when reading your words and try to express yourself in a way that won’t alienate the other or put him or her on the defensive.
The book, Write It Out, Don’t Fight It Out expands on this idea, though it uses letters rather than a joint journal.
Either one will not only improve your couples communication skills in general but will also strengthen your writing skills in particular — which can only benefit you both.
5. Play multiple-choice (with the five love languages).
Do you know about the 5 love languages developed by Dr. Gary Chapman? Each of the love languages reflects how we prefer to give and receive love. These include:
- Words of affirmation
- Actions of service
- Receiving gifts
- Quality time
- Physical touch
Give each other at least three different options for a couple-time treat, borrowing from at least three different love languages.
For example, one of you could give the other the following choices:
- A back-rub (or shoulder massage) and a long hug.
- A chance to spend at least 30 minutes together with your undivided attention.
- A chance to take a long shower or bath (or to read a book, etc.) while you clean the kitchen.
- A thoughtful gift based on what you know the other likes.
- Words of honest and heartfelt praise (“Let me tell you what I love about you.”).
The more often you do this exercise together, the better sense you’ll each have of the other’s love language and how to keep each other’s love tanks full.
6. Discuss future goals and dreams.
Whether you’re already married or preparing to go down the aisle, it’s critically important for each of you to know what the other’s goals are and what each of you wants to accomplish in your life and in the next five years.
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Answer the following questions together:
- What would you really love?
- Why would you love that?
- How can I help?
This may seem like a one-time thing, but it isn’t. Goals can change, and the more you grow together, the more likely it is that you’ll allow yourselves to be guided more by intuition than by intention.
Also, the more you know about where each of you is with your respective goals and dreams, the more connected you’ll be and the better you’ll understand each other’s words and actions.
7. Share song lyrics.
Although this might seem more like one of those communication games for couples, this is a fun exercise that gives you better insight into one another.
Each of you can choose at least one song that resonates with you and recite the lyrics that are most meaningful or memorable to you. Discuss why they are, and see if you can tie those lyrics to something in your life that they remind you of.
The purpose here is to get a sense of how the other person’s mind works and why certain song lyrics are meaningful to him or her. You can play the songs for each other and thoughtfully listen to the other’s choices.
Ever had trouble expressing your thoughts – but then you heard a song that translated the chaotic mess in your heart? Share that song with your loved one.
After all, you’re not asking each other to attend a full concert or opera. It’s one song. You’ll share one with your spouse or partner, who will share one with you.
Maybe it won’t become one of your favorites, but from then on, every time you hear that song, you’ll think of your beloved and of the time he or she shared the song with you.
8. Sit with each other in silence — with eye contact.
Sit and give each other uninterrupted eye contact for five minutes, without talking. You can use nonverbal communication, but try not to speak or make any noises until the time is up.
Afterward, you can discuss what it was like for each of you, what went through your heads, and what you think the other was thinking (based on nonverbal cues and what you know of the other person).
If it helps, sit facing together and, if staring into each other’s eyes gets to be too much, lean your foreheads together and just silently enjoy the closeness.
9. Play “What’s in a name?”
Here's another one of those fun relationship exercises for couples that's more like a game.
.You can write this out in a love note, on a whiteboard, or on the bathroom mirror — or you can do this as an entry for the “You & Me” journal.
You can also set aside time to work on these lists together, but you might prefer to have some time alone to work on it and then come together to share them when your lists are complete.
The point of this exercise is to remind you both what you love about each other and how each positive quality is meaningful to you and makes you a better person and a happier one.
10. Practice active and empathic listening.
While listening to your partner speak, do you find yourself mentally lining up what you want to say? Are you just waiting them out so you can present your opinion or defense?
With active listening, you listen with the sole intent of hearing what your partner says while striving to understand their meaning and the feelings behind what they have to say. You reflect to your partner what you heard them say to ensure you understand it correctly.
You can take active listening a step further by using empathic listening. Empathic listening requires that you try to put yourself in your partner's shoes and see things from his or her perspective.
11. Practice using “I” statements.
When you're communicating with your spouse about an issue you have with him or her, the tendency is to tell them what they are doing wrong that's upsetting to you. For example, you might say, “You make me feel stupid when you talk to me that way.”
But pointing the finger of blame at your partner will likely make them feel defensive and angry. Rather than stating what they are doing to you, communicate how their words or behavior make you feel.
Use “I” statements that aren't as triggering, like, “I feel stupid when you tell me how to clean the kitchen.” Be in charge of your feelings and ask for your partner's love and supportive words and actions.
12. Focus on kindness and respect.
During conflict communication, it's hard to keep your cool and not say things that you later regret. Hurt feelings and anger can make us lash out in unkind ways, which undermines your close bond and mutual trust.
According to relationship expert and author, Dr. John Gottman, it takes five positive interactions with your partner to repair one negative interaction. Why put yourself in that position.
Practice speaking with kindness and respect to your partner in all situations — especially those that are fraught and difficult. Recognize the danger you are putting your relationship in when you say and do hurtful things, and make it a priority to put kindness first.
13. Play “share a story.”
Take turns telling one another an important story from your past. It could be something that was joyful or something traumatic or difficult. Give as much detail as possible, sharing why the story is important to you and how the situation made you feel.
The listening partner must reflect back what he or she heard in the telling of the story.
- What were the most important points in your partner's story?
- What emotions was your partner sharing?
- What parts of the story triggered those emotions?
- How has the shared situation impacted your partner?
This exercise helps you focus on communicating your feelings and listening with your heart to each other. If you partner misses the answers to some of these questions, don't judge but rather share again the most important points you wanted to communicate.
Have these relationship exercises helped?
You should both go into this with the intention of learning more about each other and gently unraveling the tangle of emotions and misunderstandings that have been getting in the way.
Try to schedule at least one of these relationship or marriage exercises for each week, if you can’t do them more frequently. The more you learn about each other through these exercises, the better able you’ll be to communicate your love in a thousand ways throughout the week.
If we’ve helped you find ways to strengthen your relationship and improve your verbal, nonverbal, and written communication skills, this article has fulfilled its purpose.
And may your love and commitment influence everything else you do today.