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Pre-marital Coaching– Communication Skills

Updated: Mar 31

- Excerpt from Communication: The Critical Component to a Successful Marriage

Pre-marital coaching should take care to address attachment styles and personality traits, which are enduring vulnerabilities that profoundly impact one’s communicative abilities and, therefore, the quality of their relationship. Thus, these issues should be addressed prior to marriage. Woszidlo and Segrin (2013) note that “the stable characteristics that spouses bring into marriage are highly consequential to the ultimate fate of marital relationships” (p. 49-50). Negative affect, i.e., emotional distress and poor self-concept, is one of the most profoundly devastating enduring vulnerabilities in the context of marriage. Additionally, Woszidlo and Segrin (2013) find that the spouse of one mired in negative emotions and having a negative self-concept is likely to “lose hope in the outcome of relational discussion” (p. 68). How one perceives their spouse and predicts the outcome of a discussion causes the spouse to be approached in a manner that elicits the predicted response (Sanford, 2010, p. 172). This dynamic creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that re-enforces the communication failure.

Conflict resolution is among the most challenging aspects of communication. Cloud and Townsend (2015) argue that “the extent to which two people in a relationship can bring up and resolve issues is a critical marker of the soundness of the relationship” (p. 16). Soul care providers can help teach couples how to redefine conflict and implement biblical communication principles to help the couple resolve issues. Conflict is not a means to force one’s will onto another or to change another person. Rather, it is an opportunity to gain insight, build intimacy, and grow spiritually. Communication techniques such as active listening or parroting and paraphrasing to test understanding can be excellent tools.

Contact me for SYMBIS and PREPARE-ENRICH pre-marital assessments and facilitation and communication skills training.

Angela W. Startz, MAHSC, CCLC


Cloud, H., & Townsend, J. (2015). How to have that difficult conversation: Gaining the skills for honest and meaningful communication. [Kindle Edition]. Zondervan.

Sanford, K. (2010). Assessing conflict communication in couples: Comparing the validity of self-report, partner-report, and observer ratings. Journal of Family Psychology, 24 (2), 165-174.

Startz, A. W. (2017). Communication: The Critical Component to a Successful Marriage. [Unpublished paper]. Liberty University.

Woszidlo, A. & Segrin, C. (2013). Negative affectivity and educational attainment as predictors of newlyweds’ problem-solving communication and marital quality. The Journal of Psychology, 147 (1), 49-73.

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