Couple dancing in a field, rhythms of communication

You know communication is necessary for a healthy relationship. But like any other good thing, it doesn’t happen if you don’t prioritize and schedule it. Healthy rhythms of communication keep your marriage alive.

Interesting research shows that the healthiest marriages are those that breathe. In other words, focusing only on each other or being enmeshed or codependent ends up weakening your relationship. You need times of individual growth and activity.

And then you come together again to connect and to nourish the relationship itself. Here’s what those rhythms of communication can look like.

Daily Rhythms  

Life is busy. Staying connected with your spouse can seem less urgent than many other tasks that fill up your schedule and your mind. You’ve fallen into patterns of simply surviving. You can go for some time with deteriorating daily communication, but eventually you’ll find yourselves on opposite sides of a growing wall of division.

Daily rhythms of communication keep that from happening. It starts with bits of communication during the day, perhaps a text message something like “This just happened,” or “You’ve got this!” or “I’ll be wearing red tonight.”

It includes paying attention to the moments before you separate for your day and when you come together again. A kiss and a warm hug; “I’ll be missing you,” or “Happy you’re home!” Those comings and goings moments have greater-than-average impact on your sense of connection.

And then find perhaps 15 minutes to devote to each other each day. You’ll have to fight for this, especially during busy seasons of life. And if you have kids at home, this is “adults only” time. It might sometimes require one of you waking up during the night if your work schedules are particularly uncoordinated. Here’s where you let each other know what’s uppermost in your mind and help each other feel seen and heard. This daily rhythm is like glue holding you together and it prevents so much trouble later.

Weekly Rhythms

Think of these weekly rhythms of communication like washing clothes, cleaning the kitchen, or cutting the grass; you can get away with not doing it for a few days, but after about a week things start to get very unpleasant if you don’t tend to them.

These weekly rhythms fall into two categories. The first is housecleaning for your marriage. You need a time and space in which to keep the ground between you clean. You share with each other whatever is causing angst, whether it’s something about the relationship or not. And you carefully listen to your partner in order to understand them.

Doing this regularly prevents problems from becoming bigger. This kind of housecleaning might sometimes be part of date night, but it’s more helpful to keep it separate. Saturday morning over coffee. Sunday evening after the kids are in bed. If things are good, this might be short, and you don’t always solve things completely at this check-in. If needed you can make a strategic plan for taking action, getting help, or scheduling a time to talk about it again.

And the other category is fun. You need to laugh, to enjoy each other’s company, to make memories together. There’s value in both routine and variety here. Having a regular date night, even if you often go to the same restaurant, builds a sense of security and connection. And it’s also helpful to stretch yourselves in doing something different, making a new memory. If you can’t do date night every week, at least make it every other week.

Periodic Rhythms

If your marriage is to become a thing of beauty that will last it will require planning and deeper investment. What do you want your marriage to look like in a year, ten years? What do you want your spouse to say about you at your funeral? What values are you seeking to live by as a couple?

A marriage retreat is a great way to address this. Once a year take a half-day, a day, or a weekend to invest deeply in your marriage. This is not a family vacation or visiting relatives; it’s a time to focus on what you are building together, assess how you’re doing, and make any adjustments.

Plan in advance the areas you will address together. That might include categories such as finances, physical health, work/life balance, sex/intimacy, parenting (if you have kids), investing in others, and spiritual growth. In each areas consider:

  1. Where are we now?
  2. Where do we want to be in a year (or some other time period)?
  3. What are we going to do together to move toward that goal?

Another aspect of periodic rhythms is getting input to fuel the continued growth of your relationship. That might look like a marriage conference once a year, or committing to reading a marriage book each year and talking about it together as you do.

Where to Start

If communication hasn’t been healthy in your relationship, simply committing to these rhythms may make a big difference. But you may also need to address the accumulated trash that’s built up between you. Waiting longer won’t make it easier.

You might invite your spouse to a Saturday morning over coffee or a lunch-for-two after church and say something like, “I’m grateful for the years we’ve had together. I also know that God wants more for our relationship than we now have. Can we talk about what we want our marriage to be in the future, and how we can work together to make that happen?” Implementing this Rhythms of Communication might be one of the primary steps you take.

If you struggle to communicate, these are skills you can learn. Our Guide to Healthy Communication in Marriage provides a lot of practical strategies in doing just that.

Your Turn: What rhythms of communication have you established in your marriage? Are there some of these rhythms mentioned here that you need to implement? Leave a comment below.

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  • Communication in marriage only thrives when you nurture it intentionally. Your marriage needs daily, weekly, and periodic rhythms of communication.   Tweet that.

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