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.

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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.


About the author 


Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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