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Barriers to Communication Between Husbands and wives

Updated on October 24, 2014

Barriers to Communication Between Couples

Most people would agree that communication between husband and wife should be simple. All over the world, many couples fail to communicate. Why? It’s important to remember that there are differences between talking and communicating. When you communicate, you are successful in getting your point across to the person you’re talking to. Communication is not a one-way street. There are many reasons why interpersonal communications may fail. There are many barriers to communication. Barriers may lead to your message becoming distorted and you therefore risk causing confusion and misunderstanding. Effective communication involves overcoming these barriers and conveying a clear and concise message.

Common Barriers to Effective Communication:


Physical disabilities such as hearing problems or speech difficulties can hinder communication. Physical barriers to non-verbal communication can also contribute to lack of communication. Not being able to see the non-verbal cues, gestures, posture and general body language can make communication less effective.


It’s a sad fact that some husbands make their wives fear them. Fear destroys communication. A wife should ‘submit’ to her husband, but ‘fear’ him.

Wives, submit to your husband. (Eph 5:22)

Husbands love your wives. (Eph 5:25)

There is no fear in love. Love removes fear. (John 4:18)


For example, a receiver with reduced hearing may not grasp to entirety of spoken conservation especially if there is significant noise.

Emotional barriers and taboos

Some people may find it difficult to express their emotions and some topics may be completely 'off-limits' or taboo.

Too Busy

Dan says, “My wife and I are so busy with our jobs and with church, we have no time to communicate.”

We reply: Take time to communicate, no matter what. Don’t be overly busy. Eliminate some of your activities. And find ways to serve God together. Carol and I find that we communicate extra well after we have done hard work together, such as witnessing home-to-home.

False assumptions or stereotyping

People often hear what they expect to hear rather than what is actually said and jump to incorrect conclusions.

Perceptual barriers, in contrast, are internal. If you go into a situation thinking that the person you are talking to isn’t going to understand or be interested in what you have to say, you may end up subconsciously sabotaging your effort to make your point. You will employ language that is sarcastic, dismissive, or even obtuse, thereby alienating your conversational partner. Think of movie scenarios in which someone yells clipped phrases at a person they believe is deaf. The person yelling ends up looking ridiculous while failing to communicate anything of substance.

Not Listening

Failing to listen is a terrible barrier to communication. Sometimes when Carol is speaking, I think of something I want to say. As she is talking, I’m waiting for a chance to tell her my great idea. But waiting, I’m not listening. Or sometimes when she is talking, I see that she is mistaken about a small point. While she is still speaking, I’m planning , I’m not listening. Whenever Carol is speaking, I should focus my mind on her. I should listen. Then, if I’m still not sure what she means, I should ask, “Are you saying … or do you mean ..?”

How does it make you feel when you wanted somebody to listen to you and when you wanted somebody to listen to you and

  • They did more talking than listening?
  • They disagreed with the first thing you said.
  • They interrupted you at every step.
  • They were impatient and completed every sentence you started.
  • They were physically present but mentally absent.
  • They heard but didn’t listen. You had to repeat the same thing three times because the other person wasn’t listening.
  • They came to conclusion unrelated to facts.
  • They asked questions on unrelated topics.
  • They were fidgety and distracted.
  • They were obviously not listening or paying attention.

All these things show disinterest in the person or the topic and a total lack of courtesy. Your partner will feel neglected, ignored, embarrassed, worthless, belittled, rejected, disheartened annoyed.

But if you give him/her your undivided attention, he/she will feel important, worthwhile, pleased, appreciated, happy, cared for encouraged.

Shiv Khera wrote, “In order to be a good listener:

  • Encourage the speaker to talk.
  • Ask questions. It shows interest.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Don’t change the topic.
  • Show understanding and respect.
  • Pay attention, concentrate.
  • Avoid distractions.
  • Show empathy.
  • Be open-minded. Don’t let preconceived ideas and prejudices prevent you from listening.
  • Concentrate on the message and not on the delivery.
  • Recognize the nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions, eye contact, etc. they might be communicating a different message from the verbal.
  • Listen to feelings and not just words.

Father-role and Mother-role

In their first year of marriage, Luke and Priscilla communicated well. Both of them had the feeling, “What joy … to speak with each other freely about everything!” then their children were born. Soon Priscilla was busy caring for the kids. Luke was busy earning money for them. And they neglected their communication with each other. Their friendship cooled. Now their marriage is nothing more than sharing a house and raising kids. That kind of marriage is boring. To make marriage romantic, the husband must not become so busy earning money that he fails to communicate with his wife. And the wife must not get so busy as a mother that she neglects communication with her husband.

The emotional state

The emotional state of the communicator will influence how the message is sent, received and perceived. For example, if someone is stressed they may be preoccupied by personal concerns and not as receptive to the message as if they were not stressed. Anger is another example of a psychological barrier of communication, when we are angry it is easy to say things that we may later regret and also to misinterpret what others are saying. More generally people with low self-esteem may be less assertive and therefore may not feel comfortable communicating –they may feel shy about saying how they really feel or read negative sub-texts into messages they hear. By believing in yourself and what you have to say, you will be able to communicate clearly without becoming overly involved in your emotions.

Cultural differences

Culture can be a significant impact on communication. The norms of social interaction vary greatly in different cultures, as do the way in which emotions are expressed. For example, the concept of personal space varies between cultures and between different social settings.


While waiting for the bus, Ruth remembered, Abel scolded me this morning.” She felt hurt. The hurt was small. Abel had not shouted; yet his voice seemed cold and unloving. As she continued thinking about it, the hurt grew. She remembered other times when he had hurt her. Finally she asked herself, “What can I do about this hurt? If I try to hide it, my communication with Abel this evening will be half-hearted. Under the surface I will still feel hurt. Perhaps I should wait for Abel to say, ‘sorry.’ No, that won’t work because he may not realize how he hurt me. There is only one answer; I must talk with him about the hurt. I will speak honestly, and also respectfully.”


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