How would you say you and your spouse do when it comes to communication in marriage?

Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley say there are actually four distinct types of communication that take place in a marriage.

The first kind of communication is informal conversations. Greg says this type of conversation is more shallow and can be equated to “shooting the breeze” or small talk.

The second kind of communication is administrating our marriage. This type of communication helps you manage your day-to-day life as a couple and family.

The third kind of communication is the kind of conversation that involves dealing with challenges.

The fourth kind of communication is life-giving conversations.

While we will more than likely engage in the first three types of communication naturally, Dr. Greg and Erin say that the fourth kind of communication does not come naturally. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not important. They say that long-lasting marriages must include life-giving conversations.

“If all you do is those first three, you will slowly kill your marriage. Your marriage won’t survive if that’s the only nutrients you’re giving it.” – Dr. Greg Smalley

What does life-giving conversation in marriage look like?

Dr. Greg and Erin says that life-giving conversation leads you to a deeper understanding of how your spouse is doing on the inside.

“It gives us an understanding of what’s going on in our spouse’s inner life. It deepens our connection and we understand them a little bit more, we continue to get to know them and grow to understand them for and more over the years.” – Erin Smalley

“This type of communication is 100% proactive, you have to make it happen. It really won’t happen on its own. We’re going to shoot the breeze, we’re going to deal with schedules, we’re going to have to work through conflict and solve problems, that stuff is all going to unfold, but if we don’t spend time getting to know each other on a deeper level, it won’t happen.”  – Dr. Greg Smalley


Dr. Greg Smalley serves as executive director of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family.  In this role, he develops and oversees initiatives that prepare individuals for marriage, strengthen and nurture existing marriages and help couples in marital crises. He also serves as a media spokesperson on these matters.

Erin Smalley earned a bachelor degree in nursing at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.  She worked as a labor and delivery nurse for 8 years prior to going back to school for a masters degree in clinical psychology at Evangel University in Springfield, MO.

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Life giving communication in marriage

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