Let’s face it, communication in marriage can sometimes be tough. Even if we are great communicators, remembering to put our communication tools into practice each day is its own challenge. The follow-through on practicing your communication skills effectively is what counts. It comes down to choosing to be a good communicator.

Communication roadblocks can feel detrimental in a relationship, but they can be avoided by following a few simple steps. Here are three ways you can intentionally put your communication skills into practice each and every day.

1. PRACTICE FUNDAMENTALS

Going back to basic fundamentals can help with a fresh approach. Don’t hesitate to write down several communication skills you find helpful on a notecard, and intentionally practice those. If you need a place to start, we recommend the following two basic communication skills:

1. Clarify Content: make clear what your intentions are behind your words, or ask if you need clarification. Don’t jump to conclusions!

2. Reflect Feelings: Let your spouse know you understand what they are communicating to you by reflecting their feelings. Think of it like a mirror. “I understand that you are feeling sad.” Or, “I can see that you are upset, what can I do to help?”

Write those two reminders down, and make it an intentional decision to pull your notecard out when you feel you’ve hit a communication roadblock.

2. GIVE EACH OTHER ROOM TO FAIL

We are all humans, and by reminding yourself each day that you need to have grace for your partner you will set yourself up for good communication practices and keep your standards at bay. Giving it your “all” is what counts. After all, the attempt is what draws you closer together even if it is not perfect. Give each other grace, and room to fail.

Don’t beat up your spouse if they aren’t communicating to your expectations. Instead, recognize when they are putting forth their efforts and let them know you appreciate this. As long as a genuine attempt is being made, that is what will shine through. With time, practice, and support, communication will improve. So practice being graceful with your spouse, no matter how perfect their attempts at communicating are.

3. PROVIDE AN EMOTIONAL SAFETY ZONE

Feeling emotionally safe is key to communicating. Remember to keep your communication grounds safe at all times. When you and your spouse offer each other an environment to say what you feel without judgement, your communication will improve. When a person doesn’t feel emotionally safe, they begin to withdraw and regress.

You can also provide a safety zone by pinpointing what your spouse needs. Does your spouse need approval to feel their words are valued? If so reassure them you are listening when they speak. Perhaps your spouse needs time to speak and not feel rushed? Let them know you will be patient and hear them out.

Whatever the case, be sure to respect each other’s communication styles, and provide a safety zone where you can communicate effectively and let your guard down. When you choose to put your communication skills into practice (even if they aren’t perfect), you cultivate intimacy with your spouse. After all, communication is the lifeblood of a relationship, and the most important skill you can have in a marriage!

What are ways you intentionally practice good communication skills? Do you find that you forget to put your skills into play each day?