11: Effective Communication

Preparing for an Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual, (2003), 40–42

Doctrinal Overview

The Savior taught: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). Effective communication helps us enjoy the company of others, share feelings and ideas, and build relationships that endure from first acquaintance through love and commitment. Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “If we would know true love and understanding one for another, we must realize that communication is more than a sharing of words. It is the wise sharing of emotions, feelings, and concerns. It is the sharing of oneself totally” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 80; or Ensign, May 1976, 52; see also student manual, 32–33). Effective communication is crucial for dating and marriage.


Effective communication helps build friendships and strengthen commitment during courtship and marriage.

Student Manual Readings

Family Communications,” Elder Marvin J. Ashton (32)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Group work. Write the following statement on the board: Communication helps determine whether a dating couple’s relationship can move to a higher level of commitment. Ask students to relate examples that demonstrate this principle. Divide the class into groups of three or four. Assign the groups to read “Family Communications,” by Elder Marvin J. Ashton (student manual, 32), and summarize one or more of Elder Ashton’s seven suggestions for effective communication. Suggest that students substitute the words date or spouse when Elder Ashton uses the words family, family member, and so on. When they have finished, invite a representative from each group to present their findings to the class.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Scripture activity. The scriptures contain examples of both negative communication that harms relationships and positive communication that builds them. Write on the board the headings from the following chart. Fill in the first column of the chart with the scripture references listed. Divide the class into groups of three or four and assign each group two or more scriptures from the column. Have the groups study their assigned passages looking for (1) examples of positive and negative communication, and (2) general principles of effective communication. Have a representative from each group present their findings to the class, and write them on the board. The completed chart should look similar to the following:


You may also want to have students review one or more of the following scriptures as part of the exercise: Mosiah 2:32; Alma 5:30–31; 12:14; 3 Nephi 11:29; Doctrine and Covenants 20:54; 88:124.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Group work. Read aloud Elder Marvin J. Ashton’s statement in the “Doctrinal Overview” above. Ask: What keys to communication does Elder Ashton give?

Divide the class into groups of three or four. Ask students to share the following information about themselves with their group:

  • Where you were born and raised.

  • Something unusual about your family.

  • Your favorite trip or vacation.

  • Something you admire in a family member or friend.

  • A trait you possess that you think will contribute to the success of your future marriage.

When the groups are finished, ask: Which of these topics was the easiest for you to speak about? Which was the most difficult? Why? Include some or all of the following questions in the discussion:

  • What topics do couples usually discuss on their first date? What topics would you like to discuss?

  • What might happen if a couple with a developing relationship never takes the risk of discussing topics that are personal?

  • What are the risks of talking about personal topics?

  • How can we help others feel safe sharing personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings?

  • How can you show that you are a good listener?

  • What questions can you ask on a date that will help you get to know the other person? (You may want to list students’ suggestions on the board.)

  • What difference can it make in a relationship when you know you can comfortably share your thoughts and feelings with the other person?

  • How does effective communication foster sharing, friendship, growth, compatibility, trust, and love in a relationship?


Read Matthew 12:34–35; James 3:5–6 and ask: How is the tongue connected to the heart? How is the tongue like a “little fire”? In what ways can our communication either build or destroy relationships? Testify that effective communication is essential to building eternal relationships.