5 Levels of Communication

Written by Serena Wang

sparkMisunderstanding leads to breakups

About one in two marriages ends in a divorce these days. We are all too familiar with the various problems that can lead to a breakup. Arguments can begin at sunrise and not stop until after sunset. This kind of fragile relationship is like a time bomb ready to explode at any time. Some couples may keep it all inside to avoid the confrontation, but that doesn’t make the relationship any healthier. Either way, it is a no-win situation. The romance and dreams these couples once built together vanish into obscurity.

Arguments are part of every marriage

Couples often fail to compromise simply due to selfishness. Each side asks the other to change. Differences in opinion frequently lead to quarrels. These “minor issues” are just part of your marriage. More serious problems arise from heated discussions that turned into intense arguments. The fact is that no two people are alike. You may have different backgrounds, perspectives, personalities, and professions.

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Yes, you’ll still have your share of disagreements and arguments, but you need to handle them with wisdom. You have to realize it is not easy to mix well together for a lifetime. You’ll need plenty of love, faith and patience to start.

This way, your marriage won’t dry up and become routine. Communication is critical for a healthy marriage. Some people describe the ideal marriage as a two-way street. If you don’t have any arguments, or one side is always directing the traffic, you are riding on a one-way street without any communication. That’s not something to cheer about.

Establish a healthy communication technique

Maybe people have different views about the true meaning of the word “argument”. The husband and wife are two distinct bodies. Arguments are just part of life. What is important is how you handle those arguments. You’ll need to communicate with some skill.

Men and women are different, so oftentimes they “talk” but fail to “communicate”. That will just make matters worse. Couples need to find an effective method of communication. Communication is often the major player in holding a marriage together. Unfortunately, many couples lack this skill and desperately need to work on it.

Couples must learn to understand each other better and recognize and accept each others’ point of view. When you love but don’t fully appreciate each other you’ll be destined to have a rocky journey ahead. When couples are willing to talk about everything and step into each other’s shoes to look at problems, then that will be the starting point of an ideal marriage.

Communication is an art

Experts believe communication can be divided into five levels:

  1. Level of acquaintance
  2. Sharing of information
  3. Sharing of ideas
  4. Sharing of emotions
  5. Gut level sharing

Wives often want a husband who can just sit down and listen, someone who can completely appreciate her emotions and views (Level 5). Husbands typically want to reason, maybe even give a lecture (Level 3). In this kind of situation, the wives may sometimes feel that they are talking to a wall. Eventually, the wives may stop sharing many of their feelings and thoughts. Thus, it becomes necessary for couples to learn how to communicate effectively.

In addition, couples need to love and accept each other, learn to listen, and listen with undivided attention. Be proactive, objective, and pay attention for any signs your lover may give. Learn how to talk and praise your lover frequently. Don’t forget to use some humor at times. And most importantly, say everything to your lover with the love that comes straight from your heart.

Find out the cause of the confrontation and work it out

If you notice that confrontations are becoming more frequent, don’t underestimate the severity of it. Try to focus and find out the root of the problem. Resolve the differences in a timely manner and apologize to each other. Don’t delay. Whenever couples have confrontations, it is best to solve it as soon as possible.

Handling confrontations is an art like dance. Here are some steps you can take to master the dance of communication:

  1. Never use the silent treatment.
  2. Never use lies to cover up short comings.
  3. Don’t get in-laws or friends involved right away.
  4. Don’t be subjective in making any conclusions.
  5. Never jump into conclusions, communicate and talk it over.
  6. Discuss what actually happened, don’t judge.
  7. Find out all the facts rather than start guessing at the motives.
  8. Learn to understand each other, not to defeat each other.
  9. Use future and present tense talking, not past tense.
  10. Concentrate on the major problem, don’t divide attention by mixing in other minor problems.
  11. First take care of the problems that hurt feelings in the relationship, then take care the problems arising from just differences in opinions.
  12. Use “I feel” statements, don’t use “you are” statements.

Marriage is a lifelong journey. I wish the best to all the married couples out there. Be willing to make sacrifices for each other and keep an intimate relationship going. Let marriage regain the spark that once lit up your romantic world.

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48 Responses to “5 Levels of Communication”

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    Dear Father God.

    Lord I lift up my friend to You and ask that You talk to her husband and have him talk to her. In Jesus Mighty Name amen

  • jasmin says:

    my husband is working in Canada for morethan 2 years.. i don’t understand why he’s not communicating every day. he frequently send messages through viber or even calling.. I know and i believe that theres no 3rd party involve.. i just want to understand why ?? .. he just always telling me that he’s tired bec of work..

  • Esther Esther says:

    Dear Carolyn,

    Thanks for sharing your deepest fears. You say that you have been married for one year? It seems as if your husband is reconciling with his family and wants to be united to his wife and children. Remember as you are saying, these are grown children. Might he be looking at the fact that he has stayed with the family for a longer period than with you? Think about his reaction towards you just when he has started relating with his initial family again. He seems to be sending a very clear message to you.

    I suggest that you sit with him, discuss very seriously – but soberly, and out of the communication, you should be able to know his stand. He may not be able to openly tell you what his decision his but it would be better if you had an open, honest and sincere communication. If you fail to communicate openly, you may realize that you may be more hurt. If he has made up his mind to reconcile with his family, he may just not want to continue with you.

    Ask God for wisdom so that you do not get into a fight, argument or quarrel. Do not be temperamental as you communicate and whatever answer he gives you, take it positively. He might as well just be under some pressure and might not ant to upset you. If he is determined to stay with you, he will surely tell you and let you know what is going on in his life.

  • carolyn says:

    I MARRIED MY BEST FRIEND 1 YEAR AGO. HE HAS GROWN CHILDREN WHOM HE HADNT SEEN IN 5YRS.I GOT IN TOUCH WITH HIS SON. and they are working things out. Now his son is tell him what he should do in our marriage. One is we should have just stayed friends Reuben an I love each other very much. But now, my husband is starting to seems different. From the time his Son has came back in his life. It seems like our marriage is falling apart.My husband says thing he would have never said.Please I need help.how can ourmarrige be so awesome then in a few weeks fall apart? thanks God bless

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Bethany, It might be helpful to start by taking a closer look at why you stay quiet. Do you need time to gather your thoughts? Are you unsure of your opinion? Do you feel that you won’t be heard? Do you worry that your words won’t be accepted? It is easier to be passively quiet? Do you prefer that someone else carry the conversation? Do you find that when you speak you are misunderstood? Is there a part of you or your story that is scary to discuss? If you can pinpoint the why behind your choice not to speak up that will give you a good starting place to develop new strategies to help you communicate. Going into marriage you’re going to have to talk to each other. Now is a great time to find a way communicate.

  • Bethany says:

    It is the opposite for my fiancé and I. He is big on communication and I tend to clam up. I am also not very good at talking about my feelings. It makes him so upset and turns into arguments. I just never seem to know what to say. So I stay quiet. How can begin to express myself?

  • priya says:

    thanks a lot

  • Alfred Alfred says:

    Amanda (October 22), when reading your description, I felt that you were making your man feel that YOU are right, and that he must bow or learn. On the other hand, I very much like what Jamie said “…develop a feeling of team work rather than opposition.” Let him know that you are on his side, and work on the situation together. When you are his friend then he should not hide or be defensive, for there is no “stand off”.
    Hi Zeee, what if we have a prayer together: Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for reaching down to this couple and lifting them up to realize that there is hope. YOU have a plan for each life, for each marriage, and will help us in the best ways possible. Since those who fall the lowest often rise up to exceptional heights, we pray that You give this couple a miracle. Have them, together, ask U for it. In the name of Jesus, our intercessor, Amen.
    Dear Eugene, I feel that Barbara Alpert (January 8) has given you a very good reply. What more can I say, except a prayer for you, your wife and all concerned. I Cor. 13 is indeed a great passage of Scripture! Sometimes it is very helpful to focus on the solution (rather than on the problem). God is our Solution, for HE is the One who will help us through every difficult situation. My experience is that when we thank Him in advance for His answer, then we can put a smile on our face, for He’s taking care of it. In God’s perfect timing, and in His way, the answer comes!

  • Barbara Alpert Barbara Alpert says:

    Dear Eugene,

    I have great empathy for you and all that you are currently juggling and struggling with at this time. Your wife’s health issues, family chaos and discord, and your feelings as though you have no say in anything that is taking place. I cannot imagine how down you must be feeling at this time without positive people around to support and build you up through the ordeal that is taking place. Do you have a few positive, close friends that you are able to confine in for support and encouragement?

    From what you wrote, it sounds as though you have been doing everything that you possibly can in helping your wife through this. Perhaps her family is just so worried of loosing your wife whom they have known all their lives. Maybe as they realize that she is on the road to recovery that they can then feel more comfortable in going about their own lives again and allow you the blessed alone time you desire with her.

    Have you told your wife that you “miss” alone time with her and that you would love to set out a certain time during the day/evening for some quality time with her? I’m not sure how well she is at this stage of recovery but if you and her can possibly go out on a date by yourselves would allow you the time to get closer to her again.

    I know when I have gone through crisis in my own family my relationship with the Lord has always sustained me through the ordeals. Do you have faith in the Lord? Do you realize that God loves you and cares about all that you are going through? He wants to sustain you through this ordeal and perhaps desires to see a change in heart for all those involved towards one another.

    Here is a scripture that from God’s word that you and your wife can share you both journey through this situation together as husband and wife.

    “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1Corinthians 13:4-7)

    At this time, I would like to pray for you:

    Father God, I pray that You would make away for Eugene to be able to have some alone time with his wife. I pray that as You heal her from the sickness that she is battling that You will also heal and restore their marriage as well. I ask that You work on softening the hearts of all those that are involved in this situation and that Your goodness prevails. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen

    Eugene, may you realize that we have online mentors available to encourage you through this season of heartache. If you would like to connect with one of our male mentors just fill out the “talk to a mentor” form and one will connect with you via email.

  • Barbara Alpert Barbara Alpert says:

    Dear Zeee, Sorry to hear that you and your spouse are having communication problems within your marriage. Before getting married, did the two of you have good communication skills with one another? If so, did something take place after you wedded that has put a wedge between the two of you speaking openly and lovingly with one another?

    God wants you to be in a good, healthy, striving relationship with your spouse and this stems from being able to talk with one another about all different kinds of life issues. Good communication is vital in building a strong foundation within your household. Have you ever considered seeking some sort of marriage counseling to help open up and unleash healthy ways to communicate with each other?

    At this time, I would like to pray for you:

    Father God, I pray for Zeee and ask that You begin working on the communication problem taking place within this marriage. I ask that You would prepare both hearts and minds in seeking to speak openly, honestly, and lovingly with one another as husband and wife ought to. I pray that You would remove all hindrances and barricades that are preventing this couple to empathize with each other. May they learn how to speak to one another as You would have them without harsh words or lack of caring words. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen

  • Eugene says:

    Good day.
    My wife was diagnosed with Triple – H Negative breast cancer in Nov’2010 and and have been doing this journey with my wife, unconditionally.
    Cleaning her radiation wounds and 24/7 there for her. And doing what is expected of me as a husband.
    She was admitted frequently the past 3months and are my parents in law very involved with her life. Not to mention the brother in law and really making life difficult for me since we met. However the tribulation we went thru, against all odds I’m still here for her. No matter what.
    I just feel that lately I’m struggling with it all as her parents, the mother and brothers little daughter spent nearly 5weeks in my house and depriving me from quality time with my wife and not having 5minutes of her time throughout the day.
    I have started several discussion groups whereby I update her progress to all friends and family. And the brother in law making nasty comments that I do not appreciate at all.
    I have now several times reached out to my wife and wanting to discuss with her on how I feel and what I’m going thru. And she is just not interested and saying that she will not allow me to come in between her and her brother.
    She does not want to discuss this with me and really making me feel unwanted as this is the 1st action in any relationship and that is COMUNICATION!
    I do support her and do help where ever I can even if I do not want to help, I still do it without moaning. As I’m not the sick person here.
    She is so unwilling and stubborn as to just listen and be there for me as wife.
    When she was diagnosed I told the oncologist that WE have cancer and not she.
    What gets to me is that her mother and brother seemingly is so welcome in overstepping their boundries when it comes to our relationship, marriage.

  • zeee says:

    Since we got married for the past 6 years we don’t communicate n up..what is the meaning of this marriage

  • zeee says:

    Since we gotmarried for the past 6 years we don’t communicate n up..what is the meaning of this marriage

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Amanda, you need to be patient: habits in relationships do not change quickly and you need to work with your man in developing new problems. What I have found is that it is easier to establish patterns in communication when there is no issue then trying to establish those patterns while talking through a problem. At this point, stay away from the issue that he reacted to and talk about how you want your communication to go when you have a disagreement. Talk through how someone brings up an issue to talk about and how the other person can respond. Create common words that you can use to help each other understand the severity of the issue and your feelings. Develop strategies for how one partner can create some space but still commit to come back and deal with the issue. If you have a game plan before you get into an issue it provides a framework for the conversation about that issue. You will enhance understanding and develop a feeling of team work rather than opposition. Some couples find it helpful to set up these kinds of parameters with a counselor or pastor who can give some objectivity and ideas of what kind of boundaries are helpful. But ultimately it has to be something that both of you commit to.

    Does that make sense?

  • amanda says:

    I have read this and have also shared it with my man. We had a small disagreement a night after we had just discussed the topic of communication. I am ready in my life to have a mature healthy relationship. I know that I am not perfect but I am willingto change and work on my self. My man said that he could work on this with me. Then we had a small disagreemeent tonight and I was excited to talk about and slove the issue so we could learn how to handel similar issues or avoid them in the future. However he just closed up and basically refused to talk about it even after I explained that talking this out even tho its not that big of a problem would slove more problems for us in the future. Yet he continued to walk outsideon the frront porch and avoid the situation. What should I do? What did I do wrong? How can I help him relise without being overbearing with the issue how important it is for successfl communication when n a relationship no matter how big or small the issue may be?

  • zainab says:

    sounds like he has fear of fantacy

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    communication is hard in the best of times i am trying to be better at it with people and my husband too

  • sipho says:

    goog relationship tips and effective communication skills with people especily ladies

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    So glad that you found the steps towards handling confrontation helpful Sue. All of us can learn much in our relationships with others and especially with our adult children. Those relationships can be so stressful and yet so incredibly rewarding when they are healthy and we are able to open and honest communication one with the other. I will definitely be praying for you.

  • sue says:

    hi Doris. I have read the action toward confrontationn and it has helped me alot. Thank you for your love and support to me in a trial im walking thru with God. My daughter never was a good communicator with me even as a teen. perhaps thats my fault, i had to go to work and make her a mommie to her 3 younger brothers at early age, due to her fathers accident making him disabled. I had to hold down as many as 5 jobs to supply their needs, I wish i could make that up to her, but i was a young wife too and broken hearted over my husbands accident and having to be the bread winner, but I want to be her Christian Mother I raised her in a Christian HOme….. pray for me,,, that i use the list to help me reach her before it is too late. thanks, God bless

  • B. Miller Brenda Miller says:

    I am so glad that you found Serena’s article helpful, zainab! Like you, I found many practical suggestions in 5 Levels of Communication, and I know that putting them into practice will help tremendously in communicating with my husband. Thank you for visiting our site, zainab, and I hope that you return often!

  • zainab says:

    jus love this..!i’ve learnt a great deal..!

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    good article, something to think about for sure. me and my husband have been married for 25 years and it is stil also a challenged as bernard, its not alway easy but we do work it out with God’s help/

  • LaVonia says:

    Thank you Serena for this blog post. I had not seen the levels of communication put so plainly before. I also liked, “First take care of the problems that hurt feelings in the relationship…” This is great way to bring the emotional level down.
    I also have a blog where I write about marriage communication and other family issues. It is: letsthinkhealthy.com ( let’s think healthy.com)
    Thank you again for this blog post. It was very insightful.

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Thanks for stopping by yodel! And you are right…the 5 levels of communication are very helpful to understand in our relationships. We always have to work at our relationships and communication is definitely the key.

  • yodel says:

    i agree to your suggest, how the 5 kinds of communication is very useful. you always pray to god , that god send you back your needs to your life

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    You know! My parents when they were alive argue a lot, but they still stuck it out until they both went home to be with there Saviour.

  • Esther says:

    Am not married yet..but i think communication it the key to any kind of relationship..

  • Bernard Bernard says:

    We have been married for 23 years. I am not saying it was always easy. Some very hard times but we learned to look at the hard times as growing times. I have a very mature wife and so she was able to help me with my anger and how to share my emotions. But and this is the key…I went to her for help and also to outside professional help and most of all I went to God. I am trying to grow with my relationship with my wife, meaning, I keep growing in my personal life as well, I never stay stagnant. I actually hate being stagnant as a person. I want to grow. As you grow so will your communication with God which will affect your relationship with your wife. I wish it would be that easy!

  • Ken says:

    Being a man and married for almost 4 years now, I’ve already experienced the negative effect of poor communication in marraige. Luckily my wife and I have realised that we need to work on this anc actually get some coaching. I’ve never thought of actual communication training…will look this up, thanks. Getting back to good communication is no easy task, becasue we are so used to shouting at one another, or most of the time completely ignoring one another. So one needs to be patient and give the process time. One of the most effective ways to communicate better with one’s partner is to work on and control your tone of voice. If you can remain calm and talk in a normal tone and not raise it, then I believe the battle for effective communciation is half way won. Communciation is key to a healthy relationship…Don’t be fooled…it is not eas, because this is somehting both you and your partner needs to work at daily.

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Sometimes you are so right badeth, that people aren’t always totally honest and may say ‘I love you’ while at the same time already planning to go their own way.

    Richa, I think you you are right, that with every relationship there do come disagreements and arguments but that’s where the different levels of relationship come into play. When we are committed in a relationship then we are willing to go level 4 and 5…sharing of emotions and gut level sharing so we can work through the disagreements and arguments.

  • badeth says:

    i don’t believe that starting to the word i love you….. sometimes when your partner told you that words that’s the time he/she will say goodbye…

  • Richa Kumar says:

    With every relationship come disagreements and arguments. No two individual will have the same point of view in all matters. It is important to resolve issues as quickly as possible. Resolution to problems can only be found if there is.. [Edited by website admin: Link removed. Thank you for your comments but we do not allow advertisements of personal websites.]

  • Jae says:

    My problem is that I can’t find myself to have a long, good conversation with my husband without feeling heated up and angry. I have a lot to learn.

  • MMosenapelo says:

    Some information can weaken the relationship than making it strong. Can i still share this information?

  • ron says:

    Do you fulfill each others greatest needs in the marriage? Research shows the 5 greatest needs of women are all different from the 5 top needs of men in marriage. If you can fullfill each others top 1 or 2 greatest needs in the marriage this will help with all other problems, including communication. FYI, communication is usually not even in the top 10 needs of most men!

  • Andrea says:

    I’ve been with this man for 5mths. Since our 1st date, he has called daily to talk & always said he loved me. His work moved him to another state temporarily, & he asked me to marry him. I agreed to think about it.
    He still called at least once a day, until a couple wks ago, when he suddenly ceased all communication. A wk later when I finally located him, he blamed the sudden change on new meds from his dr that made him feel nothing, & working overtime. He wanted to work it out, but hasn’t changed this recent behavior. He still won’t talk to me. I don’t know what has happened, & have been begging God for fresh, honest communication.
    Please pray for me, & for him. Thank you.

  • casey says:

    I have always had trouble with expressing my concerns and listening to my husband.after reading your blog it didn’t take me long to realize that I was doing the complete opposite of your five steps. my way of dealing with our disagreements only led to awkward moments and frustration for us afterwards. after taking your advice I used it right away and I feel more confident that our relationship is going in the right direction. thank you so much.

  • Allan Wenzslaus says:

    Plis need help, it is my assignment, wht are the merits and demerits of various level of communication?

  • Wenzslaus says:

    thanks to all.

  • Wenzslaus says:

    I realy like the site, it gives gud in4tion abt our communication skills

  • Robin says:

    Hi! that’s a good suggestion and i all try implementing it. After all wisdom always wins over education.

  • [...] remain committed to them despite the bumps in the road, when we work at clear, loving and truthful communication and when we make time to rekindle the romance in the midst of the other demands of life.  Our [...]

  • Melissa says:

    My husband and I dont communicate very well, in fact I just learned 1 month ago how unhappy he was in our marriage. my husband did everything for me bought me stuff, sent me flowers everything a woman wants, in the meantime i didnt repsond to him in a way of showing how appreciative I was of that. I was a very angry person, he is not, he smiles and takes everything all in. Well 1 month ago in one of our fights, he just blew up and said he is sick of this. It has been a month, he told me he feels like he needs to seperate for a while why he thinks things out.There is a whole bunch more to this, he has 3 children and i dont have any, we have been trying to conceive and doing fertitlity treatments for the past 4 years and nothing worked, He feels that, a baby is all i care about. His kids are all grown and he hardly sees them anymore, which hurts him too. I am trying to show him that I can change, he still calls me and comes over and says he loves me, but wants to live seperate for now.

  • patience says:

    prayer answers all things,its the only way to talk with GOD.pray for your husband always.pray for him more than you pray for yourself.

  • Diana says:

    Sounds like he has fear of intamacy issues. I would suggest you see a counsellor.

  • mike says:

    Start with “I love you” and then say I feel like I said something that upset you. wold you like to tell meabout it? If he says yes…problem solved. If he says no then its on him for not talking with you. You did your part by recognizing that there is an issue, and offered to listen to what he had to say. Now its his turn.

  • Julie says:

    I agree with all of your suggestions, but what if your spouse isn’t willing to communicate? Whenever I try to express my thoughts or opinions to my husband he just clams up or makes me feel very inferior. We’ve been married over 25 years and he has been communicating less and less with me. In fact, if he’s unhappy with something I said or did he’ll just leave the room and sometimes not talk to me for days. If I try and talk to him that just makes him clam up more. How do I get him to open up and communicate without degrading?

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