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Category Archives for "Communication"

How to Establish Healthy Communication Before Tying the Knot

By Dustin | Communication

How to Establish Healthy Communication Before Tying the Knot

Once again, the American Psychological Association tells us what we have known for some time: Roughly half of all marriages in the US end in divorce.

Exactly 0% of young couples getting married care to hear about the percentage of marriages that end in divorce.

This makes it almost inevitable that the cycle will repeat itself for some time without end.

While eliminating divorce altogether is not a reasonable goal, we could reduce it greatly by considering the marriages that end in death do us part.

The one and done marriages seem to have at least this one thing in common: The successful couple has mastered the art of communication.

As with everything, there are always isolated exceptions. But in general, great communication is the hallmark of a successful marriage.

The thing is, that communication didn’t start after the words, I do, were spoken.

Productive communication in marriage begins at the dating stage, and possibly before that.

Here are a few things that need to be successfully communicated before tying the knot:

Personal Tastes

If you don’t know your wife’s favorite color in year one, you might have a hard time making it to year two. It is a basic point of knowledge that should be assumed at a certain point in the relationship.

While such things may seem trivial, matters of taste will affect everything from where you live to family diet.

You should already have the basics of her personal tastes down cold long before you present the engagement ring. Perhaps she would flip for one of those morganite engagement rings with rose gold. But you can’t make that assumption simply because it is highly fashionable and stunning in every lighting condition.

She may prefer something in amethyst due to that being her birthstone and favorite color.

Remember? She told you all about how it was her mother’s favorite color and…

Well, you may have stopped listening at that point. And that’s a problem. Because knowing your partner’s preferences is a sign that you have been paying attention.

And not knowing is a sign that you haven’t been. Knowing personal preferences is the foundation of everything else to come.


A dislike is not exactly the opposite of a preference. You can know that your partner loves cabbage without knowing that they hate lettuce.

Often, especially in the dating process, a person will withhold their dislikes in order to appear more agreeable. They may go as far as to pretend that they like a food that they really hate.

Unfortunately, this always leads to bigger problems down the road.

Dislikes develop into resentments. And before you know it, you can’t share your dislikes without starting WWIII with your partner.

The key to avoiding this is to start during the dating process. Be honest about your likes and dislikes.

Risk having the friction during the dating phase rather than bringing that friction into the marriage.

This is a good time to set expectations early. Make your feelings clear about things like:

* Spending

* Neatness

* Children

* Religion

* TV & entertainment

It is not fair to blame your partner for pushing all your dislike buttons in marriage counseling if you never made them clear while dating.


Is your idea of retirement the exit from corporate life, and the occupation of the world’s finest beaches by age 65?

There is nothing wrong with that view of retirement unless, that is, you happen to be married to someone who considers that sloth. Perhaps they think everyone should work until they die. After all, the great men of the Bible didn’t retire.

I officially abstain from the debate that you and your spouse are going to have about this issue. But if you would like to avoid it, have the discussion about finances while you are dating.

Talk about the following:

* Saving money

* Investing

* Dual vs. single income

* Frivolous spending

Sonya Britt, a Kansas State University researcher, concluded that arguing about money is the top predictor of divorce.

Being well-financed does not mean your marriage will last forever. But communicating effectively about money is a big help.

That, along with personal preferences and dislikes, are things that should be worked out long before hiring a caterer.

The Art of Not Communicating

By Dustin | Communication

the-art-of-not-communicatingWe often hear communication in a marriage is everything, and that is indeed true.

But good communication doesn’t always require dialogue.

One of the most proactive measures I’ve taken to bring about a more peaceful marriage is to not talk.

Well, less than I used to anyway.

The reason this is important is that men are a largely silent bunch.

They speak far less than women do—research shows women talk some 13,000 words more per day than men!—not because they have nothing of value to offer but because men don’t talk just to talk. They think first about what they have to say and then ‘bottom line’ it.

That’s not how women operate.

To us, talking is second nature; and it starts when we’re young. Our girlfriends come over, and we talk for hours on end, or they don’t come over so we talk for hours on end on the phone.

Even as adults, a ‘girl’s night out’ is often filled with incessant gabbing. And if we haven’t seen a friend in months and then spend two hours together, we feel like we haven’t said squat. “We have to get together again,” we implore. “That wasn’t enough time!”

If you’re female, this will sound very familiar. A man won’t identify with this at all—although he may recognize it from his experience with sisters, wives and girlfriends. Women talk.

I once went to a ballgame with my husband and another couple. From the moment the other wife and I sat down, she and I turned toward one another and began talking. Half way through the game, we were still talking—and still facing one another.

The man behind us finally leaned over and asked what in the world two people could find to talk about for that long, especially in the middle of a baseball game! The truth is, we didn’t even know who our home team was playing.

Now I realize that’s an extreme (although 100% true) example, and I’m not suggesting most women don’t like baseball or would be as clueless as I was about who’s playing whom.

I’m simply demonstrating that talking is a largely female activity.

As a female, if I have a thought, I need to get it out. I love to talk! To communicate! To analyze! To dissect!

I could talk all day. I talk even when there’s nothing to say.

But that was not going over well in my marriage.

Men aren’t wired to communicate the way women do. They communicate in a different way, one of which involves—ironically—silence.

There’s a great scene in the movie Aloha when a military contractor named Brian is in his former girlfriend Tracy’s kitchen. Tracy is now married to Woody, an Air Force recruit who doesn’t talk much. When Woody walks into the kitchen where Brian and Tracy are chatting, he stares at Brian for a really long time. Then he walks over to him, looks directly into Brian’s eyes, and gives him a hug. Then he walks out of the room.

Lamenting her husband’s quiet nature, Tracy says to Brian, “See what I mean?” But Brian tells Tracy she has it all wrong and proceeds to tell Tracy everything he got out of the “conversation” between him and Woody—all based solely on body language.

Men are very attuned to body language.

Your husband is deeply affected by your intonations and facial expressions, as well as by the way you walk. He’ll pick up on your mood before you’ve even opened your mouth. That’s the power you have as a female. Even when you don’t talk, you’re making a statement.

We live in a culture that celebrates the loudest among us. But the advantages of being quiet are manifold.

Not talking gives you the opportunity to collect your thoughts before saying something you wish you hadn’t. Not talking makes your husband perk up because that is his language. Not talking makes you a better listener.

If you’d like more insights on how to put this into practice (easily), be sure to grab this free communication strategy from Engaged Marriage.

So on that note, I have an experiment for you.

For one week, decide to keep your feelings to yourself. Every time you want to say something, zip your lip and think first: Do I need to say this? Weigh the pros and cons first.

Then, when you do speak, do so carefully and purposefully as opposed to just talking every emotion you have in order to release your frustrations. (You can call or text your friend for that.) After you’ve been quieter than usual for a week, watch your husband start to be more receptive.

Watch him instigate conversations with you.


Suzanne Venker


Suzanne Venker is the author of five books that challenge feminist narratives regarding men, women, work & family.


Her newest book, The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men & Marriage: HOW LOVE WORKS, will be published February 2017.


You can find her at

From Sour Couple To Power Couple: 5 Habits That Will Power Up Your Marriage

By Dustin | Communication

From Sour Couple To Power Couple- 5 Habits That Will Power Up Your Marriage

We all know them…

Those couples who seem to have it all together.

They accomplish things together. They play together.

They genuinely seem happy and content.

They seem to have it all…

They are a Power Couple.

What’s their secret?

What is it that they’re doing to make their relationship so strong and enduring?

The secret is…

They work at their relationship. Every. Day. 

What isn’t a secret is that you can have this kind of relationship too!

By replacing a few of those old energy-draining habits with some powerful new habits… you and your partner can power out of your relationship rut and into the marriage you’ve always wanted.

So what are these powerful habits?

Let’s take a look.

Power Couples Communicate

Power couples know that communicating is more than just “talking” to each other. They are open and genuine in expressing their feelings and needs.

They are present in the moment (yes, that means you have to put down the cell phone). They seek to understand first instead of thinking of their next response.

Power couples regularly engage in deep, emotional discussions that tap into a level of emotional intimacy that just “talking” misses. They nurture that emotional connection that is so vital to marital satisfaction.

If you need one more reason to improve your communication here it is…

Emotional intimacy lays the foundation for physical intimacy. Yes, a satisfying marital sex life starts in the head not in the… you know what.

Power Couples Invest In Their Relationship

Power couples know that what they put into the relationship will come back to them ten-fold. They make an effort, do the work and take the time necessary to keep the relationship healthy.

When you invest in your relationship… you trust what you give will grow. However if you invest nothing… you have zero chance of a return.

Investing sometimes means doing the hard things even when you don’t want to.

Compromising when you want to argue or seeing the positive in your partner even when they’re at their worst. Those kinds of actions build trust and commitment. Investing signals to your spouse, “You are worth the effort”.

Power Couples Make Intimacy A Priority

Power couples know that intimacy is much more than just having sex. Intimacy is that emotional closeness between you and your partner that allows you both to let down your guard and share your innermost personal feelings.

Intimacy grows from spending quality time together. Power couples make it a point to do the little everyday things that connect them as a couple – like making it a priority to eat dinner together or taking an evening stroll. They create little everyday rituals that run through their lives like a thread keeping them connected.

Power couples know the power of thoughtful gestures: snuggling, hugging, hand-holding, sweet words – those little things that create closeness.

And here’s a bonus… Couples with higher levels of emotional intimacy tend to report greater satisfaction with their sex lives. And speaking of sex…

Power Couples Get Physical

Emotional intimacy is important but let’s face it… we like to have sex too! Sex is an important part of a healthy relationship. Sadly, it’s also one of the first things that can fall by the wayside when life gets in the way.

Not connecting lately?

Power couples know that sometimes you have to leave a trail. A well-placed sexy note, a provocative text… even a whispered sweet nothing can bring your partner’s attention to the here and now.

Power couples know that you have to prioritize sexy time. Date nights, a spontaneous rendezvous, a surprise weekend getaway… even penciling yourself into your partner’s calendar can all keep sex on the schedule and just a little bit spicy.

The bottom line is… keep sex as a top priority.

Power Couples Fight Fair

Make no mistake… even power couples have their conflicts.

What sets them apart is the way they fight. Power couples know that when handled the right way conflicts are an opportunity for growth in the relationship.

So what does “fair fighting” mean?

In healthy relationships it means listening to understand each other’s feelings. It means looking for a solution and being willing to meet each other in the middle.

Fair fighting sometimes means apologizing when you need to. Yes, even power couples have to apologize sometimes. Hurtful words do tremendous damage. Once said aloud they can never be taken back.

If they do come out… a sincere apology can help the healing process to begin. Power couples know the power of accountability and forgiveness.

A marriage is not a contest and power couples know this. It’s not about “winners and losers”. It’s about finding solutions that empower you as a couple.

Want to learn more ways to power up your marriage? If so, you need to see this:

Investing in your relationship is the single most important thing you can do to build a strong, empowered and satisfying love.

The sooner you start, the sooner you can reap the rewards.

Total Marriage Makeover

Be sure to check it out today…your spouse will definitely thank you for it!




“Fight” Your Way To Romance: 6 Tips For Conflict Resolution That Bring You Closer

By Dustin | Communication

“Fight” Your Way To Romance- 6 Tips For Conflict Resolution That Bring You Closer

It’s the un-sexiest thing you do…

It’s Fighting, and it either happens way too often (or perhaps not often enough).

No matter your case, when you think about bringing back the spark in your relationship, the last thing on your mind is how you argue…

But fighting is the ultimate destroyer of date nights and intimate moments everywhere, and the only way to keep it from spoiling the fun is understanding how to do it right.

Your first thought is probably, “We don’t need to talk about fighting fair. We don’t fight like that.

None Of Us Want To Admit That We, As A Couple, Actually Do Things Like Fight.

Call it what you will. The fact is that every couple, even the very-definition-of-happy couple, has conflict.

They fight. Sometimes those conflicts are short-lived, minor skirmishes. It’s natural, and in some cases beneficial.

When you aren’t fighting fair, those little skirmishes become full on battles ending in emotional wounds, bitterness and no resolution to the problem.

Left unresolved, the scenario will play out again. And again.

There’s a difference between healthy fighting and fighting that causes serious damage, and we’re about to show you what that difference is and just how you can start fighting fair.

Over Time, Repeated Battling Becomes The Way You Communicate With Each Other.

When you fight, you get into a sort of communication rut where it becomes the norm to say and do ugly things with the rationale of, “I was mad. I didn’t mean it.”

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “You can’t unring a bell.”  The same is true about words said in a conflict.

Once you’ve said them, they hang in the air between you. You can’t take them back. Maybe you really didn’t mean them but the hurt remains long after the apologies are made.

Fighting Done Right: 6 Key Tips For Successful Battles

If this sounds familiar, then read on!

Imagine being able to disagree, discuss and resolve a problem without yelling, tears or hurt feelings.
You’re about to learn powerful ways to handle conflicts with your partner in ways that end in resolution instead of hurt feelings.

1. Stay Cool

Yelling communicates aggression, anger and a perception of threat.

The survival response is triggered and defenses go UP! You want to speak in a way that encourages your partner to hear you not fear you.

  • Screaming at your partner doesn’t make him/her hear you any better. Yelling can actually have the opposite effect – they simply shut down and tune you out.  
  • Your partner is more likely to be willing to talk if you remain in control of your tone and manner.  Pointing in someone’s face, crossing your arms, rolling your eyes, sarcasm and similar actions communicates agitation, aggression or even disregard.
  • Your calm presence will also encourage your partner to remain calm.  It’s hard to yell and scream at someone who is staying calm and in control.   

2. Show Respect

is a really, really good time to remember: think before you speak. Being respectful sends the signal to your partner that even though you may be angry, you can be kind.

  • Avoid name calling and ugly remarks. They cut to the core and once said, will linger in your partner’s mind long after the conflict is over.
  • Use “I statements” to express how you feel.  Use words that express how you feel and what is important to you. This helps your partner understand what you want and need without minimizing what they feel.
  • Avoid demands or ultimatums. Instead, propose solutions or options to discuss.

3. Time Out!

Getting nowhere? Try one of these strategies:

  • Call a time-out! Get some fresh air, walk the dog or simply step into another room. The goal is to step away from the conflict for a few minutes so that you and your partner can cool off BEFORE either of you say something you don’t mean and can’t take back.
  • Time-outs should be at least 30 minutes. You need time to emotionally and physiologically calm down.
  • Have a signal that you can both use to safely say, “Hey, I need a break.” After your time out, check back to see if your partner is ready to resume the discussion. If not, set a time to continue. This is the key…Your partner needs to trust that you will come back and resolve the problem.

4. Here-And-Now

If you focus on past issues, you can’t address what is happening between you now. If the old issue wasn’t a problem 24 hours ago, why is it relevant now?

  • Focus on one issue at a time. You can’t resolve all of your problems at once. If you have more than one, make a list and tackle them over time. Success breeds success.
  • Avoid using “always” and “never”. They are rarely true.

5. Find Common Ground

Lose the idea of a “fight” meaning that one wins and one loses. That’s a game. Your relationship is not a game.

  • The goal is not to “win” because if one “wins”, then the other one must “lose”.  The goal is to find a resolution you can each live with…give a little, get a little.
  • Hear your partner out.  To find a true resolution, you have to understand what your partner’s feelings and needs are.
  • Seek a resolution and not just a truce. A true resolution means that you’ve shared your feelings, forgiven, apologized and found a solution that will keep the battle from being fought over and over.

6. Keep It Private

It’s easy to want to vent to others. We want someone to validate our feelings. Fight the urge!

You won’t get what you need and you’re setting your partner up for a battle he/she can’t win. You may be willing to forgive your partner but your family and friends will have a much harder time of it.

  • Your relationship, your business.  Don’t involve your mom, your BFF, your co-workers or anyone else. They are more likely to take your side and simply tell you what you want to hear.
  • No Social Media. Social media is the last place you want a conflict to play out. Your relationship is not a reality show. Respect your relationship.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that regardless of the issue, you’re fighting for your relationship.  You can fight to be right or you can fight to be happy.  

You have to decide what is most important.

Whether it’s handling conflict or keeping the relationship healthy, even the most loving couples can get off track. Sometimes a little nudge is all that’s needed to get back on the path to happiness, fulfillment, and sensuality.

Once you can get your fighting right, the romance is sure to resurge.

Ready to Learn More Ways to Help Your Relationship Thrive?

Learning how to fight is a great start, but we both know that there’s a lot more to really open up and let the romance thrive.  If you’re ready to bust out of a romance rut, you’ll LOVE our Bring Back the Romance program.

Click here to Ramp Up the Romance Today

How to Keep the Romance Alive When Kids Bring Chaos

Be sure to check it out today…your spouse will definitely thank you for it!



How to Get Your Spouse to Talk to You: 7 Tips for Engagement

By Dustin | Communication

How to Get Your Spouse to Talk to You- 7 (1)Do you sometimes have trouble getting your spouse to talk to you?  Or really listen to what you have to say?

It’s amazing how often I hear from couples who struggle simply because they “don’t talk anymore.”

If you’re struggling with this issue, I hope you will find these tips helpful for establishing healthy two-way communication in your marriage.

Even if it’s not a major problem, I think we can all improve in this all-important area!

And if you’re looking to really ramp up your communication, I highly recommend you check out our popular free video presentation on this topic:

Discover the #1 Secret to a Happy & Healthy Marriage (even if you feel more like roommates than spouses right now)

7 Tips to Get Your Spouse Engaged

1. Be the Spouse You Desire

The first step to getting your spouse to treat you the way you desire is to model for them what that looks like.  You can’t directly control their actions, but you can control your own.

If you want them to be interested in what you have to say, be engaging and show how much you care about them.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of only reciprocating, but when you take that approach you both lose.  Try your best to “suck it up” and be the spouse that you want to be married to.

It’s called the Golden Rule for a reason.

2. Speak Their Language

In general, wives crave empathy and husbands crave respect.  Do your best to communicate in a way that fulfills your spouse on their terms.

I highly recommend that you read The Five Love Languages and apply the principles that you learn as a way to connect in a way that your wife or husband will respond to the best.  Speak their love language!

3. Don’t Shut Down

When you are not getting what you want, it is so easy to simply recoil and exact some “revenge” on your spouse by withdrawing.

This is not productive, and it will only degrade your communication further.  If you haven’t read the great  post by Stephanie Baffone called “What’s the Secret to a Happy Marriage?“, I highly recommend that you check it out and be conscious to avoid the unhealthy communication patterns that she highlights.

Remember, it starts with you.

4. Establish Expectations

Once you’ve gotten your own mind set in the right place, it’s vital that you let your spouse know in clear terms what you need from them.

Find some quiet time, turn off the television and tell your spouse that you really need to talk.  Sit down face-to-face, take their hands in yours, look them in the eye and really impress upon them how very important this is to you.

Don’t assume that your husband (or wife) really understands how deeply concerned you are about their lack of communication.

Tell them.

5. Don’t Expect a Mind Reader

After you’ve been married for a while, it is so easy to fall into patterns.  This is especially true in the area of communication where you develop expectations that your spouse knows what you are thinking and how you’d like them to interact with you.

Take a few minutes to read “Attention Ladies: Your Husband Cannot Read Your Mind!” and take this message to heart.

With guys in particular, you cannot assume that we know what you want…trust me. 🙂

6. Set Aside the Time to Talk

If you want to have a healthy marriage with extraordinary communication, you have to make it a priority.

This requires time, although it isn’t as difficult as it may sound.  Check out our manifesto on the topic “Take 15 Minutes Each Day to Just be a Couple” and start setting aside a little time each day for the two of you to simply interact…without all of the distractions we all face in our busy family lives.

If you’re looking for some really easy, but very meaningful, ways to open up the conversation and feel reconnected in as little as 15 minutes, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of 15 Minute Marriage Makeover.

7. Affirm, Affirm, Affirm

Make it a point to let your spouse know about the things they do that you like!  There is no better way to encourage the behaviors you enjoy than by using positive reinforcement.

My wife and I try to make it a point to tell each other one little thing each day that we liked.  This could be as simple as saying thank you for an encouraging text message or sharing how cool you thought it was that they spent time playing with the kids outside while you prepared dinner in a quiet kitchen.

A little affirmation goes a long way!

Take Action: Watch Our Free Video Training to Fix Broken Communication

If you take these tips to heart and implement them with passion, I’m confident that you can make great strides in your marital communication.

If you need additional help, please take some time today to go watch this training:

Free Video Training on Communication

If you’re stuck in a rut or your communication has degraded to the point that you feel more like roommates than spouses, this presentation is a must-see.  It is only available for a limited time, so be sure to check it out today.