What’s Your Communication Style in Your Marriage?

Communication Style - AdobeStock_89413714What’s your communication style? Are you an amplifier or a condenser in the ways you talk with your spouse? You probably never thought of using that terminology for how you talk to someone. But it’s important info to consider. After all, how can we build communication bridges between us if we don’t examine each of our approaches to this important mission? So that’s what we intend to do here.

Author/psychologist Dr Norman Wright gives good insight into each differing communication style. He says a person who is an amplifier is “someone who communicates by sharing what they have to say in great volumes of details.”

In contrast, a person who is a condenser, “is most comfortable sharing little more than what is absolutely necessary.” They usually share only “what is absolutely necessary.” Little is much in their eyes in the words they use to communicate.

Amplifier VS the Condenser Communication Style

In further explanation to each communication style, Dr Wright points out:

Amplifiers give a number of descriptive sentences as they talk. In contrast, condensers give one or two sentences. In approximately 70 percent of marriages, the man is the condenser and the woman is the amplifier.

“But neither is a negative trait. They’re just different as to the amount of words they use when talking. They’re also different in what they’d prefer others to use when talking to them. Often, the amplifier wishes his or her partner would share more. But the condenser wishes his or her partner would share less. It is only when each of you adapts to the style of your partner that real communication occurs.”

But how can spouses effectively communicate with each other when our styles are so different? God specializes in using our differences to unite us. As you read the Bible you can see that He used them with the disciples. So he can sure use it with us. We love the perspective that Dr Gary Chapman gives on this issue of God using our differences for good.

Unity Rather Than Conformity

Dr Chapman proposed the following points to consider:

“Why do you suppose Jesus chose twelve men with different personalities to serve as his disciples? I believe it was because he did not desire uniformity but, rather, unity. Each complemented the other as they worked together as a team to accomplish God’s purposes. Likewise, in marriage there is a vast difference between unity and uniformity. It is God’s purpose that we become one. But it is not God’s desire that we become alike.

“The differences are there so that we complement each other. Plus we strengthen our effectiveness in serving Christ. Differences are all a part of our humanity. There will never be a married couple with no differences. They key is to make our differences an asset rather than a liability.” (From the book, Covenant Marriage)

As we said, within marriage, it’s a matter of marrying our differences.

Communication Style Partnership

You actually give each other and your marriage a gift when you work with your differences rather than against them. But how do you marry your differences in partnership in your communication style? Dr Chapman gives further insight:

“Partnership is shared primarily by communication. One of a wife’s deepest desires is to know her husband. When he talks about his thoughts, feelings, and desires, she feels he’s allowing her into his life. When a husband goes long periods without talking about what he’s feeling or thinking, she senses that he’s cutting her out. This leads her to feel isolated.”

That’s why it’s important if you’re a “Condenser” to stretch yourself to talk more to your spouse if they need more. It’s important to the well being of your marital relationship to do so.

But on the other hand, on behalf of someone who is “Condenser” too many words can flood their thinking. You need to be considerate of their communication style, as well. Sometimes they can feel like they’re drowning in a “sea of words.”

As Dr Les Carter says:

“Don’t get too wordy. I’ve found that many people feel that more words mean more attention (or any attention). Not so. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. A few well-chosen words strike home better. So leave out minor details and if possible stream-line the presentation —stick to the point.”

Steve and I (Cindy) struggled with this issue for years. He’s a condenser and I’m an amplifier in our speaking styles. I used to get frustrated with him because he didn’t give me enough details when we’d talk. I thought he was withholding from me. Quite often I would hunger for him to talk to me more. But when I heard about this concept, I better understood that he wasn’t purposefully withholding from me. That was his communication style. Giving fewer details came more natural to him.

On the other hand, Steve would get frustrated with the amount of words I would use when we’d talk. Now that I look back on it, I often saw his eyes kind of “glass over” when I was speaking in great detail. I thought it was rude of him to look so uninvolved with what I was saying. But now I know he just couldn’t handle all the information I was giving him.

Making Each Style Work

In recent years we’ve found ways to compromise on this issue. I try to be less wordy. But I know it’s sometimes important to him.

On the other hand, Steve is learning to be wordier when we talk. What’s amusing is that we’ve both merged a bit in our communication styles. Through the years, I’m getting (a bit) less wordy. And Steve is giving more details when we talk together. We have some great conversations. We are each other’s best friends.

But there are still times when we each need to bend a little more on this issue. Sometimes I still get too detailed when I talk to Steve. So we’ve worked out a little system. For the most part Steve listens to all I have to say. But when he’s tired and needs me to abbreviate my explanations, I’ve given him permission to give me two code words. (The words he uses are simply, “Readers Digest.”)

He doesn’t use them often. So when he does I try not to take offense. I know that I need to be as gracious to him as I want him to be with me when I need it. So I then shorten what I have to say. If I think he needs more details, we work that out somehow. But I give him grace and space when he needs it.

As for Steve, sometimes I need more details. At those times I ask him “please elaborate a bit more.” Steve knows that I wouldn’t ask for more if I didn’t need it. So he then gives me more details. And I love him all the more for it. I appreciate his stretching himself for me.

We’re both stretching ourselves to accommodate the other on this important matter.

Differing in Communication Style

We’re both created different; and we need to recognize that. But different isn’t bad—it’s just different. By embracing our differences we embrace each other in the way that God created us.

It all comes down to honoring each other’s approaches to everyday communication. Stretch, and change what you can. But also honor each other’s differing approaches. Work together on this in the ways you can. Barrie Davenport (in his 4 Common Communication Styles article—that we recommend you read) gives a simple solution. We also employ it in our marriage. See if you can in yours. He says:

“Amplifiers can practice abbreviating their thoughts and explanations when they verbalize them to their condenser partner.”

On the other hand:

“Condensers can make more of an effort to verbalize thoughts and feelings with the amplifier partner, knowing that sharing more will create connection and intimacy.”

So, the following is for amplifiers. Remember, God tells us:

When words are many, transgression is not lacking; but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.(Proverbs 10:19)

And this is for condensers in communication styles. In your marriage, remember:

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.(Proverbs 25:11)

Sometimes, giving a bit more in conversation with your spouse is like giving them a gift of gold. They treasure the intimacy of the moment.

For both of you: Just make sure you speak kind words. Whether you use many or few words, always remember the following. God warns us:

Reckless words pierce like a sword. But the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18)

This is your friendly reminder!

Cindy and Steve Wright


To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:



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4 responses to “What’s Your Communication Style in Your Marriage?

  1. (USA)  I generally agree that men tend to be “condencers”, but it depends on the subject. For example when I ask my husband “who won the ball game last night.” I literally mean “who won”, one word answer, but he likes to tell me about how they played, who was ahead, how that hit, pitched, how many men were left on base etc. Also I have a poor sense of direction, so if I am driving someplace alone & ask my husband for directions, he has a great sense of direction and will usually give me about three different options (the quickest, safest, most direct, easiest,) on how to go and get me totally confused.

  2. (UK) Thanks for this article. It’s always worth reading other people’s observations/opinions as it helps to clarify our own.

    And, once again, the timing was perfect as I am in the middle of reading a book concerning the way bereaved people express themselves. One theory categorizes three different approaches; namely intuitive, instrumental and blended. This has opened my eyes to what now seems glaringly obvious. I see a chap I would identify as very intuitive -talks about his feelings, shows his emotions, expresses his anger, regret, sadness. It all pours out. His wife attends a different session and she also gets upset but rarely tells us how she is feeling, instead talks about family dynamics, seeks information about events leading to the death, wanting to know more. Going back over the events, according to my book she is instrumental (cognitive). The blended approach is supposed to be a mix of the two. Statistically men are usually instrumental and the women are intuitive. Thought it over-lapped slightly with your article. m x

  3. (CANADA) It’s not just women and men, men condensers vs men amplifiers, the right way isn’t very clear. I know a guy who deals in absolutes and while he can be articulate, he keeps it reserved. He just prefers the condenser way to deal with people who are not close even when the condensed details lead to almost no idea exchange. It’s cool, there is still a balance and outgoingness. He works in retail management.

    One of my best friends since childhood however, who is very similar to me physically, isn’t very outgoing, articulate, intuitive, and creative in his social responses so we don’t talk or communicate and when I try to communicate we only talk. He was the only person of my ethnicity growing up and there were always cliques that made us feel unwelcome or nothing to do and say socially so our social skills aren’t very sharp as men. We didn’t want to be like the other hooligans so it was the cool kids and just us. He’s taking psychology and I wanted to ask him about his views on women, I might get a I don’t know or a very limited unsophisticated answer. I don’t know how and if he passes that course since I would imagine it requires us to be intuitive and creative.

    I’m not a flawless communicator myself when it comes to details and vagueness, target audience and topics but I try. That’s why I am here.