• Dr. Jacob D van Zyl

Help for communication in the marriage

Updated: Jan 26


by Dr. Jacob D van Zyl tel 013 752 2000

Practice@37A Ehmkestreet, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, SA

BLOG (29/4) posted on 2019/12/02 – check this blog for the next update in about a month’s time


In my previous blog (blog 28) regarding two trees standing and growing together as one in marriage, I reflected on the differences regarding the communication process and roles within a man and a woman.

In this blog I would like to emphasise the importance of communication. I provide the first five of ten important communication guidelines in marriage.

The importance of communication in marriage

Communication has the potential to make or break a marriage; to help the couple cross the border of their marital problems or to remain stranded. The human species is the only creation of God with the gift of spoken language. That is why it is so ironic when husband and wife are joined together in marriage and yet seldom speak to each other. It seems to me that we often do not speak about the important issues or needs in marital life, because it became too complex…or we want to avoid possible conflict. It is actually better to have conflict about a situation, than to stow the issue away in your heart, where it becomes a wedge between you and your partner.

The ten most effective communication guidelines

There are ten guidelines regarding effective communication that I always give to married couples who are having problems. In this blog I provide the first five of the ten most effective communication guidelines:

1. No mindreading

It happens very easily that the one partner tries to read the other one’s mind. It is like a bad habit –once started, it’s hard to get out. The one partner will be convinced that he or she knows exactly what the other is thinking or how he or she will react. For example, the wife thinks that her husband thinks: “I’m going to leave you”, while the husband is not thinking that at all. Maybe there is something else about his wife that is bothering him, but he has not had the time or courage to verbalise it.

It is very important to clarify what you think your partner thinks with himself or herself. Wait for the right place and time to ask if what you think or suspect, is correct. Maybe you just need to hear the “yes” or “no” answer. Maybe you need to talk about what you think he or she is thinking. And then you might need reasons for his or her responses; especially if you have been walking around with this issue, that you are so sure of, for a long time. If this is the case, you will have to talk about it in some detail.

While you are talking to your partner, it is important not to attack, but rather to use “I”-messages. By using “I”-messages you are communicating on behalf of yourself in the first person. It is important to say: “I have been walking around for some time convinced that you are thinking about leaving me” rather than to claim: “You can just come right out and say it: do you want to leave me!?”

2. No questions that are not real questions

It is easy to fall into the trap of hiding your anger or sadness in a sarcastic question, instead of talking about it honestly with your partner. She will ask him: “Tonight you are probably hanging out at the golf club again, hey?” Or he says to her: “It will really help if you’re home more often, am I right?” Instead of these sarcastic questions, which have the intention to hurt your partner, you should express your need in a positive way: verbalise a sentence with your reasons, as well as your feelings.

3. Each participant may only speak for him- or herself

Guard against talking on your partner’s behalf. He or she has his own reality; and is an adult who has the right to speak for him or herself.

4. Each participant must say how he/she feels, instead of making value judgments

The use of the “I”-messages is once again important. Instead of making an accusation or a value judgment like: “You leave the education of the children totally to me. You are just another absent father!” you can verbalize your concern positively and constructively by saying: “I really need your help with the children. I know from what I’ve already seen that you have the ability to give valuable input”.

5. The conversation must take place in the present: in the here and now

Too often our partners are bombarded with incidents from the past. When you are talking about an issue or a problem, you have to focus on the present. Say what is bothering you now and keep to it. Put the current problem on the table and try to focus on that only as far as possible.

In my next blog, I will provide the other five most effective communicating guidelines.

Feel free to send your questions regarding the marriage / marital life to or contact my rooms at 013 752 2000 in order to make an appointment.


© 2018 by 4 Keep Sakes 

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