Secret #2: Communicate
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Secret #2: Communicate

Saying what you mean, meaning what you say.

Why Communication Counts

Over and over again, communication problems are targeted as the number-one cause of marital strife.

In many cases, couples think they're communicating, but the messages aren't getting through. Communication problems stem from differences in conversational styles between men and women.

Another common reason for communication foul-ups is what we call the mind-reader syndrome. Many couples -- newlywed as well as long-married -- fall victim. "If he really loved me, he would know what I want" is a typical complaint. So is "She's not saying anything, so she must be mad at me." Men are also much less likely than women to ask questions of a personal nature. They frequently think: "If she wants me to know, she'll tell me." Unfortunately, clinging to misconceptions often prevents couples from saying, honestly and directly, what they really feel and need.

Try This At Home: Curing Mind-Reader Syndrome

Could mind-reader syndrome be a problem in your marriage? Perhaps you are not explaining your needs or expressing your thoughts as clearly as you think you are. Use this short personal checklist to focus your feelings and specify what you'd like to change instead of complaining or criticizing.

When a disagreement surfaces, ask yourself:

  • What exactly am I thinking and feeling right now?
  • What do I want my spouse to know right now that he or she may not realize?
  • What is my partner thinking I mean?
  • What am I assuming he knows that he may not have thought of?
  • Am I acting in childish or petty ways that I thought I had outgrown? Are my tone of voice or my actions telling my partner something that I'm not saying directly? Could he be misinterpreting what I really mean?
  • Is there one thing I could do differently to make my spouse understand?

Taking the time to do this will help you clarify your own needs so you lessen or avoid problems entirely.

Real Couples' Stories

Read about relationships in which communication break-downs are causing problems -- and see how they're solved.


To purchase a copy of the new book Seven Secrets of a Happy Marriage, visit