Communication Fundamentals in Marriage

Building An Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual, (2003), 21–24


Doctrinal Overview

“Our communications reflect in our countenance. Therefore, we must be careful not only what we communicate, but also how we do so. Souls can be strengthened or shattered by the message and the manner in which we communicate” (L. Lionel Kendrick, in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 28; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 23).

Principle

Good communication edifies marriage.

Student Manual Readings

Selected Teachings from “Communication” (31)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Student pretest. Make copies of handout 2, “Communication Quiz,” from the end of this lesson (p. 23) and distribute them to your married or engaged students. Give them a few minutes to answer the questions under “How Well Am I Communicating?” Explain that you will not be discussing their answers in class, but encourage them to discuss them later with their fiancé or spouse.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Read Doctrine and Covenants 76:94 with students. Explain that one of the characteristics of those who inherit the celestial kingdom is that “they see as they are seen, and know as they are known.” This seems to indicate that in our perfected, celestial state, our communications with one another will be pure and transparent, without hypocrisy, deception, or misunderstanding. Since celestial glory is our goal, we should try to learn and use this type of communication now.

Group work. Have students turn to the related scriptures under “Communication” in the student manual (31). Divide the class into groups and assign several scriptures to each group. Ask them to discuss in their groups how their scriptures apply to communication in marriage and the family. Have them report their conclusions to the class.

Handout 3. Make copies of handout 3, “Self-Evaluation of Emotional Abuse,” from the end of this lesson (p. 24) and distribute them to students. Invite students to discuss their feelings about the behaviors listed there. Encourage them to fill out the questionnaires at home and, if they are married, to discuss them afterwards with their spouse.

Point out that to have a strong marriage you must eliminate all forms of hurtful communication and instead communicate in ways that nurture, edify, uplift, encourage, and make your spouse feel valued and loved.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Draw the following diagram on the board. Ask the class to explain it. Explain that the closer the man and woman come to Christ (or in other words, the more Christlike they become), the greater ability they have to communicate with love for each other.

Christlike character image

Discussion. Read the following statements to the class and ask what each has to do with marital communication.

  • Elder John A. Widtsoe, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote: “True love of man for woman always includes love of God from whom all good things issue” (Evidences and Reconciliations, arr. G. Homer Durham, 3 vols. in 1 [1960], 297; or student manual, 157).

  • Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “In the teachings of men—without Christ at the center—there will soon be a slackening sense of service to others. … Men do not usually love a neighbor simply because he is there; some discover that he exists only after they become persuaded that God exists” (Of One Heart: The Glory of the City of Enoch [1975], 15).

Conclusion

Two passages from James 3 summarize the challenge of communicating in a way that strengthens eternal relationships:

“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. …

“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom” (James 3:2, 13).

If time allows, review and discuss all of James 3.