What is superficial communication

About talking, listening and the love

As a marriage and family counselor, I am often in conversation with married couples who want to save or improve their relationship. Once a woman came to me who had only been married a few months. She told me about major communication problems in her marriage. After talking to her husband, I found that he was very good at communicating - just not his wife, apparently.

I've found over the years that good communication affects the heart and mind. When we communicate better - that is, clearer and more precisely - with one another, we create a deeper emotional bond, resolve conflicts and strengthen the bond in the marriage. The following suggestions show how to improve the quality of communication in a relationship.

Have meaningful conversations

Dr. Douglas E. Brinley, Church member who specializes in marriage and parenting, described three levels of communication in a relationship: superficial, personal, and appreciative communication. In order for a deep bond to develop between a man and a woman, the relationship between these three levels must be right.1


At this level, communication is informative, conflict-free, and involves very little risk. Every married couple spends time at this level. You make appointments, talk about the weather or gasoline prices. This type of communication is necessary, but if the conversations mainly take place at this level, no deep bond can develop between the partners.

Superficial communication can displace in-depth, meaningful conversations. If a couple carefully avoids the deeper questions they need to talk about, they will not learn to resolve conflicts or develop an inner bond. This connectedness comes from talking about what is really important - and not about the trivial. I have observed in my practice that many married couples try to save their relationship by limiting their communication to the superficial level. By neglecting the most important things (see Matthew 23:23), they are destroying their marriage.


In personal conversations you talk to each other about your interests, dreams, passions, views and goals. You can also entrust your fears and inadequacies to the other. Addressing all of this - in a Christian way - creates an inner bond and strengthens the relationship. Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915–1994) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “Communication is more than an exchange of words. Communication is that considered Communicating feelings, thoughts and worries. This includes giving yourself completely. "2

You probably communicated at this level when you first got to know each other. This is the level at which you fall in love with each other. As you continue to share what is important, both spouses will feel appreciated, wanted, valued, and needed. Then, when you learn to recognize what your spouse is sharing with you - showing them that you care - you move to the next level of communication.


Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to comfort and care for one another.3 The authors Sandra Blakeslee and Judith S. Wallerstein state: "A marriage in which one receives no loving attention, no strengthening encouragement, can die from mental malnutrition."4 Communication that expresses appreciation is uplifting, healing, strengthening and beneficial. At this level of communication, we express our appreciation and praise to a person who is dear to us. Almost any relationship will thrive when a healthy dose of appreciation is expressed.

Recognition begins with listening carefully to your spouse and includes expressing views and thoughts that are uplifting and wholesome. See and share the good about your spouse. If your spouse was having a difficult day, you could acknowledge it by listening and using words of comfort. For example, you might say, “I'm sorry you had such a difficult day. What was going on? ”Or,“ What can I do to make the rest of the day better? ”Perhaps you could say something like,“ I can see why it was a difficult day. But I have faith in you You are smart and hardworking and you will solve the problem. ”Such statements show that you sympathize with your spouse and that you care about them. By verbally addressing your spouse's feelings, fears, thoughts, and worries, you express that you acknowledge them and their feelings, are grateful for them, and love and respect them.5

Practice the art of listening

You demonstrate the greatest communication skills by listening carefully. Charity in marriage is also expressed by paying full attention to your spouse and listening - really listening - no matter what you might like to say yourself. To be heard and to be loved are closely related, yes, to be listened to is one of the highest forms of respect and recognition. By listening, we are telling our spouse, “I care about you. I love you. What you have to say is important. "

In marriage, listening shouldn't be about taking in information, but really understanding the other. To really understand the other means to see a matter from their point of view. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged spouses to learn to listen and listen in order to learn from one another.6 Listening carefully helps us put aside our own will and pride and establish a soul-to-soul connection.

Elder Joe J. Christensen, a former Seventy, counseled: “Take the time to listen to your spouse, in fact plan to do it regularly. Have a chat and see if you are a good spouse. "7 Taking the time to talk, without any distraction, will help solve problems. Stay positive, be Christian, and avoid interrupting your spouse while they are talking.

Nonverbal cues

Another aspect of communication that is sometimes overlooked is non-verbal communication. What you say and how you say it is important, but body language is just as important. Do you look your wife in the eye when she talks to you? Do you roll your eyes when your husband tells you he's had a bad day at work? Does the expression on your face show interest and sincerity, or do you seem bored or annoyed? Do you also express your love through physical affection? Sometimes a hug or smile can convey more love than words. Regardless of the type of conversation - whether you are discussing a current newspaper article or your life's dreams - positive body language underlines the appreciation and strengthens the relationship.

Follow the example of Jesus

Have meaningful conversations with your spouse using the example of Jesus Christ as a guide in your actions and statements. The Savior exuded love, concern, and compassion as He spoke to people. He spoke softly and his love was selfless. He showed compassion and he forgave. He listened carefully and showed charity. If we are to improve our relationships, we must learn to speak positively as well, so that others are edified and empowered.

In my counseling sessions, I usually ask married couples to analyze their communication patterns and improve in them. Once you've applied the principles of meaningful conversation to your relationship, I have seen changes toward a happier marriage. Really understanding your spouse, creating an atmosphere that encourages open communication, and expressing affection and admiration are keys to a better relationship and happier marriage.

The author lives in Utah.

Improve Your Relationship With Heavenly Father

In addition to applying these principles of communication in marriage, we can apply them to our relationship with Heavenly Father as well. Many people only communicate superficially with God. If you just pray out of duty or repeat the same phrases over and over again, you may find it difficult to feel connected to Heavenly Father. It seems far away. Communicating with God is different from just speaking to him. President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) said: “We don't need to shout out to [God] in many words. We don't have to tire him out with long prayers. ... The prayer should come from the heart, and it should not be hackneyed phrases that are not connected with any thoughts or feelings. "8 Are you sharing your innermost beliefs, feelings, and desires with Heavenly Father? Have you confided in him what you long for deep in your heart? Can you pour your heart out to him? And do you practice listening, paying attention to his answers?

As you share sincerely with humble prayer, you will develop a deeper bond with Heavenly Father. Then if you listen to his advice and implement it, your relationship with him will become richer and deeper. As you give specific thanks for specific blessings, live the gospel, and become more like Jesus Christ, you show your love for Heavenly Father.