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This article reviews basic communication theory and lays the foundation for teaching emotional communication skills to couples.

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It might make a wife feel differently if her husband says with a beaming smile and a catch in his voice, “Aren’t you beautiful” than if he sneers in an ugly moment, “Aren’t you beautiful.” A lot of what partners communicate to each other does not come out in words.

Communication is fundamental to human interaction and intimate couple relationships, in part because communication is a tool for knowing or emotionally connecting with one another.

In one study of couples, both men and women agreed that the emotional connection they shared with their partner was what determined the quality of their relationships and whether they believed they had a good marriage or not (Barnett and Rivers 1996).

Communication includes more than words and grammar.

Nevada, Urbana, IL 61801 Phone: 217.265-5279 fax: 217.333-9061 [email protected] communication is critical for building and maintaining strong couple relationships.

Family Life Specialist, University of Illinois Extension Associate Professor, Human and Community Development University of Illinois 2006 Christopher Hall, 904 W.

In fact, the emotional layer of communication may be one of the most important for couples.

The connection that is established via communication does not have to be purposeful as long as one party understands some meaning from the other.

For example, a wife might be very upset with her husband for forgetting to clean up the living room, and the husband may read this in her expression (e.g., huffing while she picks up trash) or nonverbal cues (e.g., slamming the pillows on the couch) even though she may say nothing about it to him.

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