Do you want communication exercises for couples? You’re in the right place.
Because today, we are going to share 7 proven communication exercises that every couple can use to communicate better (without fighting). Plus a FREE couples communication worksheet you can download to use at home.
Note: These communication exercises for couples were inspired by our best-selling books, Communication in Marriage: How to Communicate with Your Spouse Without Fighting and it’s workbook, Communication in Marriage: Companion Workbook for Couples.
7 Communication exercises for couples to do together
First, decide who will respond as You __________________, and who will respond as Me ____________________ for the remainder of these exercises. Then put away any distractions like your phones, computers, tablets, etc.
Now let’s begin!
Exercise 1. May I have your attention, please?
So much of what we try to communicate with our spouse is not fully registered because we don’t get their full attention when speaking to them.
This is a tough one for me. My mind is always in a million places and I’ll just start talking to Marcus mid-thought, or just not get his attention and assume he heard me.
He asked me to say his name and make sure he responded before telling him anything. It’s so hard for me to remember that sometimes when I am in a rush, but we both make an effort. – Ashley
I have found that when I need to talk about certain topics that require more brainpower and mental energy, I have to give Ashley a head’s up ahead of time.
That way she can let me know when she is ready to be fully present and focused on whatever we need to discuss. – Marcus
What are some ways you can get each other’s attention before you start communicating with your spouse about anything?
Exercise 2. No yelling.
When you’re in the thick of things and frustration or anger start to take over, it can be hard to remember to stay calm and keep your words respectful towards your spouse.
I’ll admit. I have the shortest temper in the house, with the exception of my now three-year-old. I get loud when I’m excited talking about something, and I get loud when I am upset.
I have worked on this, and become much better throughout the years (and practice since becoming parents) so this is something I try to keep in mind whenever we have disagreements. It helps to keep this mental note in the forefront of my mind. – Ashley
What are some things you can do when you start to feel defensive or have a heated argument?
What are some things your partner can do to kindly alert you that you might be the one who needs a moment to calm down?
Exercise 3. A mile in your partner’s shoes.
We talk about empathetic listening in our Communication in Marriage book.
Empathetic listening is simply trying to see things through your spouse’s eyes. To look and find their intentions, or how this topic is affecting them.
An example we give in the book is when Ashley really wanted to go house hunting and Marcus was opposed to even looking.
She was so frustrated that Marcus would not even take the time to just go and look at a house that fit most of their criteria, especially since a mortgage would be cheaper than rent in this area.
I was thinking that this was so practical, I couldn’t believe Marcus didn’t see how much sense it would make financially for us. I eventually asked him why he was so against it.
He gave me some short answers, so it took some digging to get to the root of it. Finally, I understood he felt stressed.
A house is a big commitment, and surprise expenses can come up. If he lost his job, which at the time was possible, we would be in a more difficult financial position. Then there was the student loan debt hanging over our head.
I realized that if we had bought a house at that time, it would be a source of more stress on my husband and the opposite of what I would want our home to represent for him. – Ashley
Think about a topic that you disagree on, and ask your spouse why that is so important for them. Ask them how it makes them feel, or why they feel a certain way about it.
Exercise 4. Confirm understanding.
Clarification has prevented many miscommunications in our marriage. We have observed that most of our arguments were based on misconceptions and miscommunication between us.
The remedy? Clarification. We try not to assume we know what each other wanted/intended, so we ask them to confirm.
In the first year of our marriage, Ashley and I were laughing and joking around one minute.
The next thing I know she called me silly, which in my culture means a fool. I thought she also understood that, but she was very confused why I was upset with her.
She asked me why I was upset, and what that word means to me. I was surprised when she explained that in her culture (United States) silly just meant that I was funny.
There were quite a few words we both had (and still) have different definitions of. – Marcus
What is one way you can implement clarification into your daily conversations with your partner?
What are some other tools (lists, giving them a heads-up, etc.) you can use to confirm your partner’s understanding about your expectations, or vice versa?
Exercise 5. Change your style.
In our Communication in Marriage book, we talk about different communication styles.
The communication styles we cover in the book are based on an expert in leadership speaking, Mark Murphy. Murphy’s article says there are four types of communicators, and someone can use more than one: Analytical, Intuitive, Functional, and Personal.
⇒ The Analytical communicator is someone who likes hard data and specific language. They have less patience when using emotion while communicating.
⇒ The Intuitive communicator likes to look at the big picture, skip over the details, and cut straight to the chase.
⇒ The Functional communicator likes process, finer details, and plans that are well thought out.
⇒ The Personal communicator, as someone who values emotional language and connection.
When you know your spouse’s communication style, you can literally speak their language and communicate more effectively.
Marcus is more of an Analytical and Functional communicator, while Ashley is more of a Personal communicator. So you can see where we would get our wires crossed.
Take some time and think about how your spouse tries to communicate with you. Observe how it is different from the way you choose to communicate with them.
Write down what your communication styles are, and discuss how your communication styles are different.
Write three specific ways you can communicate with your partner using their communication style(s)?
The next time you are having a conversation with your partner, try using their own ways of communicating back to them. Does that make sense?
Exercise 6. Take a break.
When tensions are rising, voices become shouting, yelling, or name calling/blaming starts, it is time to take a break before you say something you will regret later.
Sometimes this break will last a few minutes, for others, it may take hours, maybe even a day or two. The trick is to not let it go for too long and to find a way to resolve, or agree to disagree respectfully.
The sad truth is this:
When you are in the midst of an argument, and you feel frustrated, angry or defensive, you are not in a good position to communicate.
Infact, our brains go into a fight or flight mode because the cognitive part of the brain slows way down, which means effective and meaningful communication goes down the drain.
Sometimes a short break, a drink of water, reminding yourself that this won’t matter in a few hours or a week, can make wonders.
So the next time you feel your walls come up, or your body getting tense during your conversation with your partner, take a break. Calm your body back down.
Get grounded so that you can remain open-minded. As you know, an open mind makes solving an issue easier.
Write down the maximum amount of time you will need to take a break from an argument? Then discuss and agree on a set time duration.
Agreed time duration: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Exercise 7. Rinse and repeat.
Yes, just like it sounds. Repeat these steps over and over until they become your reflexes for communication.
For extra practice, use these thought-provoking conversations starters to kick-start deeper conversations with your partner.7 Proven communication exercises that every couple can use to communicate better (without fighting)..Click To Tweet
FREE couples communication worksheet
Click here to download the couples communication worksheet we created to go along with this article.
Then complete each communication exercise together, AND practice what you learn from the exercises.
Get a copy of our communication book below to read.Click here to get Communication in Marriage
More communication exercises for couples
If you want more communication exercises for couples, get the companion workbook below to complete together.
This workbook is designed to get you both working together on different communication strategies that will help you communicate better.Click here to get this communication workbook for couples
Bonus communication questions activity exercise for couples
Sit down with your partner and discuss your answers to the following questions about communication together. Remember to take turns answering each question.
To make it easier, we’ve added these questions to the couples communication worksheet above for you. (Click here to download the worksheet for FREE.)
1. What do you think is your biggest struggle when it comes to communicating with your spouse?
• What can you do to overcome this struggle?
• What can your partner do to help you overcome this struggle?
2. If you could change one thing about how you communicate with your spouse, what would it be?
• More specifically, what will you do to make this change a reality?
3. What are some of the topics that you have the most difficulty communicating with your spouse?
• Why do you find these topics difficult to communicate about?
4. Do you communicate with respect to your partner? If no, what can you do to communicate to them with respect?
5. What is one thing your spouse does well when it comes to communicating with you?
• What do you love about this one thing?
This communication questions activity for couples is sure to get you both having some deep and “raw” conversations.
As you go through each question, remember to listen with empathy, be truthful, and respectful of your spouse.
You see, many married couples (including us) have gone through these communication exercises, as such, we strongly believe your relationship will benefit from them too.
Lastly, for the next seven days, implement one (ideally all) of the 7 communication exercises for couples through your daily interactions with your partner. It might seem awkward at first, but with practice, it will become second nature to you.
Which of the 7 communication exercises for couples is your favorite? Why?
What is one communication exercise you will practice this week?