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.

Further Reading: Unfaithful Husband: Thrown on a Roller Coaster.

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.

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.

Do you feel defeated in your attempts to improve your relationship with your partner? We are here to listen and to encourage you. Consider talking to one of our free and confidential mentors. If you fill out the info below, you’ll hear back from someone on our team shortly.

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78 Responses to “5 Levels of Communication”

  • Gordon says:

    Rana, it shouldn’t surprise you that it’s easier to be open with a coach or stranger than with your spouse. The stranger doesn’t care and you’ll most likely never see them again. The coach is trained to care and is held to strict confidentiality, and you’ll probably never see them either. So there’s no backlash being open with them.

    But a spouse is another story. When you’re open with a spouse, there’s always the risk that you’ll hit a nerve or go beyond with they’re comfortable dealing with. Emotions can quickly escalate to a point where one or both spouses can’t handle the situation in a reasoned manner. The result is either an explosion or an extended silent treatment, both of which can cause permanent damage to a marriage — damage you’ll need to live with every day from then on. It’s just too much risk to justify the potential benefits of openness.

    And Rana, you call this kind of openness “simple communication”. Believe me, it’s not simple at all. The words and concepts may be, but the emotional implications are anything but. If you’re not both careful and skilled, your marriage can take a sharp, permanent turn for the worse that will stare you in the face the rest of your life. As I said above, that would be too painful to justify the possible benefits of being open.

  • Rana says:

    Its amazing how deep down we yearn for connection and true intimacy yet to reach the core of that is buried under emotions, anger, resentment, fear.
    So much that we don’t even see a clear path to simple communication.
    I hear a lot of stories in my practice but it seems to eb easier to open up to a stranger or coach then to your own partner/spouse. Such a shame…

  • Tom Tom says:


    I’m sorry you find a discussion that includes Jesus unsavory, but since Jesus created and set forth the institution of marriage way back in the Garden of Eden, it only makes sense to consider what he says about it today. Also, you might notice that next to this page’s heading, “Power To Change” is the statement, “Experience His Power.” That is referring to the Lord, Jesus Christ, and experiencing his power to change what’s wrong in your life.

    Do you have any sort of spiritual beliefs Christy?

  • Christy says:

    Can we please talk about marriage and not about Jesus? This alienates many people who would like to talk about communication in their relationships without having a religious discussion.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Gordon, thanks for your honesty. You are not alone in your uncertainty of how to handle emotions. There are many people like you who, in response to hurt and pain, have tried to ignore emotional responses to situations that they find themselves in. It is my experience that it is never too late to begin to allow yourself to feel things deeply and get past the hurts of your earlier years. Humans are emotional creatures and even though you may not allow yourself to feel things deeply you still have emotions that result from the thoughts you have about things that go on around you. Learning how to manage and share your emotions with others is a skill that you can develop.

    I don’t know what your understanding of God is, but what I have found in the Bible is that one of the ways that humans reflect the image of God is in our emotions. The Bible presents God having emotions and sharing those with us. The Old Testament reveals a God who loves, who is grieved, who rejoices, and who is angered. In the New Testament Jesus exhibits a full range of human emotions, but always in perfect balance in His holiness. Unlike us, His emotions did not lead Him into sin. That is part of the great promise of Him as our Shepherd: He leads us through all the circumstances of life, good and bad, so that we can experience the fullness of our emotions without becoming controlled by them and drawn into selfishness because of them.

    It is great sense of confidence for me to know that Jesus guides my emotions in all my relationships, especially in my marriage. I can trust Him to show me the way to feel things deeply and still respond in a way that expresses my love for others, rather than just my love for myself. That includes dealing with deep hurts from my past and present. He promises that even though this life is filled with trouble (He doesn’t promise to remove all trouble), He has overcome that trouble and will lead me in that same path.

    Have you ever heard those promises from Jesus? What is your response to His offer to lead you into a healthy emotional well-being?

  • Gordon says:

    My wife and I have been married for 27 years. Our communication has never gotten past level 3, because neither of us does emotion. I buried my emotions way, way deep as a child so I could survive at school. As a result, I never learned how to handle emotions, and it’s too late now. On one hand, I know spouses are supposed to have fully transparent emotional intimacy, but on the other hand, I am absolutely incapable of it, and my wife doesn’t operate that way either. Is there any hope, or do I just have to continue accepting that this is the way it is?

  • Chris says:

    mizt….no this is not normal…God would have us seek him about whom we should marry and wait for the wedding day he plans before we would think about living together. if you would like to know more about living jesus way log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. praying that jesus shows himself to you that he is real and alive and well today ready to enter your heart, amen!

  • Mizt says:

    Hi we are in the middle of planning our wedding. We both work full time. Hardly see each other. Mind you we live together. He works days I work nights . We have a 4 year old daughter.
    Ever since he paid the deposit for the wedding he’s been working overtime. We don’t communicate anymore. We don’t have sex anymore. He’s never at home. When he is at home he’s in bed asleep. Doesn’t want to be disturbed. The wedding is a year away. If I’m going to lose my relationship and my sanity in the name of a wedding; then I don’t want it. We don’t talk laugh nothing! Just lie besides each other in total silence. Is this normal?

  • Chris says:

    wamuwi….so sorry to hear you are struggling in your marriage. its so important to realize that our wives are the weaker vessels according to 1 peter 3 in the new testament. as men, we need to find the spiritual strength through jesus christ in order to lead them into a stronger relationship to God as well so that you can have a strong, close-knitted marriage in Christ. for more informaiton on having your own special and personal relationship with God our father through Jesus christ his son, log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. i am praying now that jesus brings peace into your hearts and home!

  • wamuwi says:

    Married for 17 years. Marriage communication breakdown. She says im to blame. I feel differently. The hurt is uncontainable. no sex anymore. House mates. No communication. Hearts painful. And yet no divorce. I cant go own any longer. But for the children. What shall I tell them? Im ready to divorce. With pain.

  • Chris says:

    carola…sorry to hear of your situation…marriages today are suffering. the reasons can vary but the main reason is because we have left out the one who designed marriage and that is God himself. as you have learned, your husband doesnt have the capacity within himself to treat you the right way. he too has apparently forgotten about his need for God who is love in his life also. why not you take the first step towards permitting God through his son jesus to begin making positive changes in your life and then your husbands through your example. if you would like to know how to begin doing that log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. i pray that you allow jesus to come into your heart so he can bring his love and peace since he is the only one who has them and can give them to us. amen

  • carola says:

    My situation is far the most horrible thing some one should have to go though.
    We were married for 10 years 2 girls and he is American and I am argentine. (Wow)
    When I moved here I got into a depression cause I am a little one from a Arabic family!! And here I am alone.so I got into a drug for 6 month. Then when for rehab got better and he said to me if you ever touch it again I will leave so he did because I relapse so the divorce was horribly..I mean really hurtful. But we love each other very much. So we were going to star over we moved to another state and it was even worst, the fact that we left everything behind. And he and I lost the new jobs from here.no money etc..he has been an hungry man always .he was very gentle in the beginning but he said I broke that.so I said if you want to start over then you have to leave it behind. But he is been so hard and hungry and controling.that he don’t believe in anything else than himself. And blame me for everything. It’s so sad , because I know he loves me. But he can get it out. And I am getting hurt to the point that I feel like I am the maid to do what he says. And I am dying of sadness. We have beautiful mdoments though. And we finally got new jobs and decided to start over now! But I am scared. He already told me pretty much I will do what he says or just leave he think I am a mess and he is perfect. Lol.so I said no .if you don’t want to do everything to understand each other than it will not work. Please guys say something to me I need someone to share this with.and I need a little bit of hope if there is any.

  • Coleen says:

    I have been seeing a man for 3 years now. I was always taught when communicating feelings to use the “I feel…” instead of “You dont…” LOL when I do this he always turns it around and says…You, You, You it’s always about you!

  • Chris says:

    Ashley…i am sorry to hear of this situation. it would seem that Gods help is greatly needed here from instruction of the bible and a qualified pastor. i would pray that you would first give your life to jesus so he can direct it for you and keep you from people who arent his will for you to be with. as you do, your life will have clarity and peace by you walking according to gods will for your life. for more information on walking with christ personally and having him as the savior of your soul log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. i pray jesus greatly leads you and shows you the way best to please him and to live for him alone amen

  • Tom Tom says:

    1) If “your man” is running to mom after each argument, he isn’t “your man.” In fact, he doesn’t sound like anyone’s “man” yet. He has a lot of growing up to do.

    2) In all likelihood the arguments didn’t start after your moved in together, but before. Did you not know these things beforehand? If so, was it showing maturity to decide to live together?

    3) You don’t mention your spiritual beliefs, but do you believe that living together outside of marriage is in God’s plan for your life?

    Sex is the most intimate connection any man and woman can have, and it IS definitely God’s plan that people be married beforehand. Were you seeking Him for what is best or following your own desires? Seeking His will first is the mature thing to do and will always work out. Seeking your own will not.

  • ashley says:

    My man and i JUST moved in together two weeks ago. when we have arguements, he tells his mom and he even told me that she will always believe HIM even when she haas yet to hear my side! Im a FIRM BELIEVER in BOTH sides are to be heard before a statement or judgement is wrong. im ALWAYS the bad one….help me88

  • Shelley says:

    Don’t forget God in the picture and then things will be better.

  • Mahe Siala says:

    I do appreciate your analysis. However, theory remains unable to justify practices 100%. Sometimes, one spouse dominates and everything is all right at home. Sometimes both spouses are wise; yet conflicts may happen. Any human relationship is a complex one. I suggest that communication becomes a subject matter at schools to come up with generations that are able yto listen for one another and able to build on what others say. We need to work hard on it, don’t we?

  • Chris says:

    shelly…i am sorry to hear you are struggling a bit. at the same time i do thank God for a marriage of 30 years. not that many marriages today last that long so that speaks well of you and your husband. we marry imperfect people, that is for sure. we need to realize that always even after being married for quite a while, those Little thorns on the roses can still pop up once in a while but that helps us to develop our unconditional love for our spouses even more just as christ loves us. remember, marriage is a symbol of the love God has shown us in his son jesus. though we were weak and oppposing to God, jesus still loved us the same and even to die on a cross for us. how truly marvelous is the love of God and that is the love he wants to develop in us towards our mates and all those around us too. for more information on having this kind of love flowing in your heart and life log onto…knowingjesuspersonally.com. i pray jesus help you in understanding what he wants to do in your life, your marriage and your spiritual destiny amen!

  • Shelly says:

    I have been married for almost 30 years. My marriage, for the most part, is complete. One issue and from day one, communication and how the communication begins and ends.

    It’s the “tone” the “huh” the “I heard you” the “yah ok”. As I approach him on a subject and ask softly and look him in the eye his reply is always, this is way I say the things I do. You go way overboard. Listen to yourself. Even if we are not discussing an issue, he’s never looked me in the eye for communicating, he’s looked elsewhere. For example, we were on a wine tour with our friends, the other gal asked her husband the type of wine, he looked her in the eyes and proceeded to explain the wine and the discussed back and fourth. So the next stop I did the same the and addressed it directly to my husband, he looked at the couple and proceeded to tell them about the wine. Never once made direct contact with me.

  • Kathryn Kathryn says:

    Hi Ranae, You are in a tough situation and if your husband does not want to talk or see a counsellor, that makes it tougher. Partly it may be because of being a fire fighter and having another job. He is maybe just downright tired. My son is also a fire fighter and is always tired. I don’t know what their sex life is like and I don’t ask but I do know in spite of that and a near fatal illness his wife had a few years ago, they have a good relationship, share a lot together and have very well adjusted kids so maybe that’s where they put most of their energy an effort and not on looking for sexual satisfaction. It may seem hard to believe but sometimes that makes for a very happy marriage, especially if you add
    in the fact that they are regular church goers and seek to live as disciples of Jesus. Where do you stand as regards faith? It does make a huge difference if you know that there is a God who cares and who is ready to give us the wisdom we need in all circumstances.

  • Ranae says:

    We have been married 22 years and we still have issues with sex. Not enough or when he wants it and then I get the silent treatment. We have tried signals to communicate that the other might be interested, but we still m9iss them, or I do. He does not think he should have to ask . he is a firefighter and gone every third night and also works another job. We have had a family bed and sleep was the reason and he really says he likes sleeping alone because he does not want to have anybody touching him at night. After the silent treatment when most of the time I figure out at least it is about sex, I try to discuss, but the end of the discussion is always, and I do mean always “it is all my fault” in sarcasm. It leaves me with no options. It shuts down all communication. I am now disabled and adding that to the mix is interesting. I am concerned that after all of this time, this is where we still are. Counseling is not an option ever he says. how do we get passed this? P.S. but forget about compromises of loving touch other than sex and it has to last forever with me at least having 3 orgasms or it is disappointing for him.





  • Aldo says:

    Secorra, I suggest, first, that you pray for God’s help in resolving the issue you are facing with your fiancé.

    Then, you should reread, memorize, and begin applying the 12 steps to Handling confrontations above. They are wonderful principles, which, when put into practice, will provide the help which you are asking for.

    If, after you have made a determined effort to apply those steps, and there seems to be no change, you may want to rethink whether you are in the right relationship. Quite often, when God closes one door, He opens another, usually, better than the previous one.

    If you would like to talk to a mentor on a one on one basis, you may do so by going to this website: http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/.

    Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love for Secorra. A love so great it is unfathomable. Help her to grasp the magnitude of that love. Help her to comprehend the sacrifice You made for her in sending Your Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die for her sins, and the sins of all mankind. Lord, grant Secorra the wisdom, fortitude, and calmness of mind and heart to deal with the situation with her fiancé, in Jesus Name I pray, amen.

  • Secorra Gagau says:

    Hello me and my fiance, we can communicate but when have he tends to slide back to talking about my past, something he can’t let go of. I have lied and have not told him things, I know it looks bad but I love him. I have apologized a million times, I have owned up to what I have done, I faced my past. He constantly bring up my past and lives in it it gets frustrating. He don’thear what iI have to say we over talk eachother. He is a person who don’t let stuff go or forgives. I tell him.holding on to my past is holding us back we are standing still. I aslo tell him God has forgiven us you have to forgive. So now I start back shutting down when talk and dont voice my opinion because he makes me feel like Iccan’t say anything to him. He make me shut down like I use to when I was younger and I dont want that all it will do is build up, that will cause resentment, cause a break up. Please help us thank yoy

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    There is a a great verse in the bible that tells us that we are not to let the sun go down on our anger. The reason for that is that once we go to bed angry, without speaking, it is easier to ignore each other the next morning. With each day that passes, the anger and bitterness takes root and makes communication more and more difficult.

    Since your husband was committed to coming home early to talk it through, I certainly hope that you too were willing to talk. Communication takes hard work on both people’s parts. And next time when there is a disagreement or there is hurt, talk it through before you go to sleep. You will be glad you did!

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