Communication exercises for couples help to build a stronger relationships. Effective communication in marriage can mean the difference between a long-lasting happy union with minimal stress and one that is tumultuous, toxic, and destined to end.
Luckily for you, mastering communication exercises is something anyone can do with enough practice. And the best part about these exercises? They can all be done from the comfort of your own home!
Read on to discover the best communication exercises and activities for couples that will help to improve your communication skills within your relationship or marriage while also helping to develop and build trust.
Practical Communication Exercises for Couples
There are various communication exercises to choose from, all covered in this guide.
- Verbal activities teach partners to express themselves utilizing respectful tone and phrasing.
- Nonverbal exercises assist individuals in learning the importance and subsequent impact of body language, facial expressions, gestures, and eye contact.
- Written communication activities educate couples about expression through written composition.
Despite the targeted skill set, all exercises attempt to re-establish connection and trust within the relationship. Enclosed are examples of communication exercises that target verbal, nonverbal, or written communication.
Exercise #1: “Fireside Chats”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt utilized informal radio broadcasts to address the nation during his presidency.
The term “fireside chat” was said to invoke images of one chatting with the President in front of a cozy fireplace.
In this verbal communication exercise, couples are encouraged to schedule a “fireside chat” once weekly for a 15 to 30-minute duration.
This exercise teaches partners to utilize calm and respectful words to discuss issues involving their mothers-in-law.
All distractions are to be eliminated and ignored, with the focus squarely on each other.
“Fireside chats” can explore either surface or deeper content and usually depends on the magnitude of a couple’s issues.
If the magnitude is large, it is recommended that a couple begins with “safer” conversations, such as pop culture, world events, or entertainment, before moving on to more heated, controversial topics.
Exercise #2 “High-Low”
This verbal communication activity allows individuals to express themselves while their partner employs attentive listening techniques freely.
This activity should be utilized during the latter part of the evening (i.e., during dinner or bedtime) and allows a couple to check with each other about the most critical aspects of their day.
Each partner is asked to share the best part of their day, their “high,” and the most disappointing aspect of their day, their “low.” As one partner shares, the other utilizes active listening techniques to convey empathy and understanding.
Exercise #3 “Listening Without Words”
This is an exercise that focuses on both verbal and nonverbal communication. A timer is set for 3-5 minutes; one partner can verbalize their thoughts and feelings without interruption.
Meanwhile, the other partner can only use nonverbal techniques to convey empathy, understanding, and encouragement. When the timer goes off, the couple processes the experience by discussing observations, feelings, and ideas.
Each partner will then switch roles to get an opportunity to practice both skills.
Exercise #4 “Eye See You”
This is a nonverbal communication exercise focusing solely on eye contact.
In this exercise, two chairs face each other in a quiet, relaxing environment.
Both parties are asked to maintain eye contact for five minutes without breaking or looking away. During this activity, individuals are encouraged to allow internal thoughts and feelings to surface.
After the activity, couples are encouraged to discuss their experience, levels of comfort or discomfort, and bodily sensations.
Each individual can guess their partner’s thinking to assess connection and whether nonverbal messages came across.
Exercise #5 “Send Me a Postcard”
This is a communication activity targeting written communication.
Both partners are given a blank postcard with directions to write a message depicting a frustration, a feeling, or a desire.
Each partner is then asked to “mail” their postcard by giving it to their partner without verbal interchange.
Each partner is then asked to utilize another postcard to write a response to their partner’s message.
Assertive Communication Exercises for Couples
Communication styles fall into three main categories, passive, aggressive, and assertive.
This communication style occurs when one does not stand up for themself and instead acts as a “doormat.” People who are passive sacrifice their wants and needs for the wants and needs of someone else.
This communication style utilizes intimidation tactics to bully others into getting what one wants.
Finally, assertive communication occurs when an individual respectfully and appropriately asserts their wants and needs openly and directly.
This communication style bolsters self-esteem, increases respect, and makes both partners feel valued and heard.
Assertiveness training allows individuals to become aware of their most used communication style and assists them in developing a more robust, assertive manner.
Assertiveness training empowers couples by stressing the importance of communicating one’s thoughts and desires while being respectful to the wants and needs of their partner.
Exercise #1 Using “I statements”
A typical communication pitfall is when words like “you,” “should,” and “could” are used during self-expression.
These words result in a defensive reaction, while the individual feels attacked, blamed, and criticized.
This assertiveness training activity teaches couples how to eliminate these words by educating them on expressing themselves in an “I statement” format.
One partner states, “I feel ____ when you ___ because _____. I would like for you to _____.”
The other partner is then asked to respond to that statement with another “I statement.”
The other partner answers, “You sound ____ because ____. Next time, I will ______ and I _______.”
Exercise #2 “Say It Again”
This assertive communication activity asks couples to identify three critical statements used during a past disagreement or argument.
The couple then works together to reformat each statement of how the message could have been conveyed without criticism or attack.
Exercise #3 “Sticks and Stones”
This assertiveness training exercise addresses name-calling and self-esteem.
Each partner is asked to independently list disrespectful and hurtful names with which their partner has tagged them.
The couple then comes together, and each is allowed to read their list.
Each partner is given a chance to explain how each term impacted their feelings of confidence and self-worth.
Communication and Trust Building Exercises for Couples
Trust conveys feelings of emotional and physical security and builds over time from honest, reliable, and direct communication. One of the most famous scenes from “Titanic” depicts Jack holding his hand out to Rose while asking, “Do you trust me?”
Thankfully, trust activities can be accomplished in far less dramatic scenarios in everyday life, but the principle remains the same.
Exercise #1 “Copycat”
This activity is goal-directed, and its success is directly related to the level of communication and trust between partners. A couple is asked to sit back to back with the same building blocks.
One partner creates a structure and is then allowed to provide verbal directions so that their partner can build the same network. Individuals must trust that their partner gives them clear, concise, and accurate directions to reach their goals.
Exercise #2 “Minefield”
Each partner creates an obstacle course in this activity with various objects serving as “mines.”This partner then utilizes verbal communication to guide their blindfolded partner through the course while protecting them from the “mines.”
Exercise #3 “Give Me a Hand”
In this exercise, couples have to work together to achieve a common goal with an arm tied behind each of their backs. Both individuals must communicate directions and actions concisely so that each partner can use their free hand to meet the objective.
Any goal, such as buttoning a shirt, zipping a zipper, tying a shoe, or clasping a necklace, can be utilized.
Communication Exercises for Engaged Couples
Premarital counseling is becoming more common and sought-after with today’s exorbitant divorce rates. Couples seek to strengthen their relationships with guidance and practice before marriage to avoid being another statistic.
Communication exercises can be utilized as a part of premarital counseling with a mental health professional or employed by the couple. These exercises attempt to make individuals aware of their communication styles while educating them about healthier and more valuable patterns.
Additionally, these activities seek to increase connection and trust within their relationships.
Exercise #1 “Mirror Mirror On the Wall”
This communication exercise helps couples to practice verbal communication and active listening skills. One partner is asked to tell a detailed story for five minutes, upon which their partner is asked to reflect on what they heard.
The partner reflecting is tested on their ability to employ active listening strategies, assess their level of understanding, and determine accuracy in mirroring what was said.
Exercise #2 “Future Goals”
This activity assists a couple in identifying and communicating future goals and desires with each other. Couples are encouraged to consider and discuss short-term and long-term goals to understand what each partner needs to be happy and satisfied.
Exercise #3 “Music Lyrics”
This activity utilizes music and song for self-expression. Each partner chooses three songs they can relate to and then shares the lyrics with their partner. This activity will prompt conversation about why songs are meaningful, the evoked feelings, and why a particular piece was selected.
Exercise #4 “It’s All in a Name”
This activity fosters connection, closeness, positive feelings, and gratitude among partners. Each individual is asked to choose a compliment or positive quality to describe their partner for each letter of their partner’s name.
Each individual is then asked to read their list while describing the impact on their self-esteem, confidence, and self-worth.
The Importance of Communication Exercises for Couples
People have attempted to understand and decipher the padlock to a healthy relationship for decades. Over the years, theorists and professionals have hypothesized several theories to predict whether a relationship will make it down the aisle or whether it can persevere into old age.
Despite differing opinions, it is generally agreed that communication is vital to demystifying and opening the padlock. In the early 1990s, society learned that “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus,” as inherent gender characteristics were blamed for the miscommunication between couples.
Several years later, the “Five Love Languages” concept debuted, asserting that all individuals, regardless of gender, express and understand emotions differently.
To date, humanity isn’t sure if it should be booking an educational expedition to Mars or Venus or if it should be acquiring a well-versed translator.
Nevertheless, mental health professionals and relationship gurus agree that couples must communicate well to maintain happy and trusting relationships. Communication exercises can either renew a troubled relationship or strengthen the connection happily.
How Often to Practice Communication Exercises as a Couple
A person’s childhood, background, and upbringing significantly impact how one communicates as an adult.
During the first few years of life, children keep a watchful eye on their parents as they observe whether discussions between their role models end in heated confrontations or whether ideas are generated and perspectives shared.
Children can witness negative communication habits, such as blaming, name-calling, and criticism, or observe healthy techniques, such as listening, validation, and respectful tone.
Wrapping Up Communication Exercises for Couples
So there you have it! These are some of the best and most potent communication exercises for couples.
Whether you’re looking to save your marriage or grow closer together as a couple, practicing communication exercises in your relationship will undoubtedly save you a lot of grief and headache.
Which exercise are you going to try first? Let us know in the comment section below; we’d love to hear from you!