11: Effective Communication

“11: Effective Communication,” Preparing for an Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual (2003), 40–42

“11,” Preparing for an Eternal Marriage, 40–42


Effective Communication

Doctrinal Overview

The Savior taught: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). Effective communication helps us enjoy the company of others, share feelings and ideas, and build relationships that endure from first acquaintance through love and commitment. Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “If we would know true love and understanding one for another, we must realize that communication is more than a sharing of words. It is the wise sharing of emotions, feelings, and concerns. It is the sharing of oneself totally” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 80; or Ensign, May 1976, 52; see also student manual, 32–33). Effective communication is crucial for dating and marriage.


Effective communication helps build friendships and strengthen commitment during courtship and marriage.

Student Manual Readings

“Family Communications,” Elder Marvin J. Ashton (32)

Suggestions for How to Teach

  • Group work. Write the following statement on the board: Communication helps determine whether a dating couple’s relationship can move to a higher level of commitment. Ask students to relate examples that demonstrate this principle. Divide the class into groups of three or four. Assign the groups to read “Family Communications,” by Elder Marvin J. Ashton (student manual, 32), and summarize one or more of Elder Ashton’s seven suggestions for effective communication. Suggest that students substitute the words date or spouse when Elder Ashton uses the words family, family member, and so on. When they have finished, invite a representative from each group to present their findings to the class.

Suggestions for How to Teach

  • Scripture activity. The scriptures contain examples of both negative communication that harms relationships and positive communication that builds them. Write on the board the headings from the following chart. Fill in the first column of the chart with the scripture references listed. Divide the class into groups of three or four and assign each group two or more scriptures from the column. Have the groups study their assigned passages looking for (1) examples of positive and negative communication, and (2) general principles of effective communication. Have a representative from each group present their findings to the class, and write them on the board. The completed chart should look similar to the following:


    Negative Communication

    Positive Communication

    Principle of Communication

    Proverbs 8:6–9

    Speaks of wickedness, is forward and perverse.

    Speaks of excellent things, right things, truth, righteousness, plainness.

    Use clean speech. Tell the truth.

    Proverbs 15:1–2

    Speaks grievous words that stir up anger, speaks foolishness.

    Gives soft answers that turn away wrath, is wise and knowledgeable.

    We can avoid much contention by communicating positively and honestly.

    Proverbs 15:28

    “Pours out” evil things.

    “Studies” before answering.

    Think before you speak.

    Matthew 12:34–37

    Comes from an evil heart, speaks idle words that will condemn.

    Comes from a good heart, speaks good things that will justify.

    Our speech can indicate our character.

    Matthew 15:16–20

    Comes from an evil heart, defiles, bears false witness, commits blasphemy.

    Evil thoughts lead to evil speech.

    Ephesians 4:29, 31–32

    Is corrupt, bitter, wrathful, angry, loud, full of malice.

    Is edifying, kind, tenderhearted, forgiving.

    Avoid evil speech. Repent of evil.

    Colossians 4:6

    Is full of grace and wisely seasoned.

    Strive to make your speech edifying.

    You may also want to have students review one or more of the following scriptures as part of the exercise: Mosiah 2:32; Alma 5:30–31; 12:14; 3 Nephi 11:29; Doctrine and Covenants 20:54; 88:124.

Suggestions for How to Teach

  • Group work. Read aloud Elder Marvin J. Ashton’s statement in the “Doctrinal Overview” above. Ask: What keys to communication does Elder Ashton give?

    Divide the class into groups of three or four. Ask students to share the following information about themselves with their group:

    • Where you were born and raised.

    • Something unusual about your family.

    • Your favorite trip or vacation.

    • Something you admire in a family member or friend.

    • A trait you possess that you think will contribute to the success of your future marriage.

    When the groups are finished, ask: Which of these topics was the easiest for you to speak about? Which was the most difficult? Why? Include some or all of the following questions in the discussion:

    • What topics do couples usually discuss on their first date? What topics would you like to discuss?

    • What might happen if a couple with a developing relationship never takes the risk of discussing topics that are personal?

    • What are the risks of talking about personal topics?

    • How can we help others feel safe sharing personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings?

    • How can you show that you are a good listener?

    • What questions can you ask on a date that will help you get to know the other person? (You may want to list students’ suggestions on the board.)

    • What difference can it make in a relationship when you know you can comfortably share your thoughts and feelings with the other person?

    • How does effective communication foster sharing, friendship, growth, compatibility, trust, and love in a relationship?


Read Matthew 12:34–35; James 3:5–6 and ask: How is the tongue connected to the heart? How is the tongue like a “little fire”? In what ways can our communication either build or destroy relationships? Testify that effective communication is essential to building eternal relationships.