BYU Women’s Conference: Communication in marriage

Matt Townsend speaks to the crowd during Women's Conference, as he addresses the subject of "Communication in Marriage".
Matt Townsend speaks to the crowd during Women’s Conference, as he addresses the subject of “Communication in Marriage.”

Relationship expert Matt Townsend and his wife, Mardi Townsend, offered candid perspective on one of the most common marriage issues plaguing society: communication.

Mardi Townsend started her remarks putting the participants at ease by assuring that all couples struggle with communication and that conflict can even be healthy for relationships. “The real problem is not the fact that you have conflict or even how much conflict you have,” she said. “The real problem is our inability to talk through our problems with each other and to find the love and understanding that accompanies real communication.”

“Finding love and understanding amidst conflict is not always easy as issues in marriage are often weighed down with pride, sin and trivial misunderstandings.” Mardi Townsend said. “I’ve found that the sooner I take on the responsibility for my contribution to the poor communication, the sooner I find peace.”

Mardi Townsend went on to offer seven basic needs of relationships that comprise the acronym STARVED – found in Matt Townsend’s Book The Starved Stuff: Feeding the Seven Basic Needs of Healthy Relationships. Safety, Trust, Appreciation, Respect, Validation, Encouragement and Dedication are all essential to facilitating healthy and effective communication between spouses. “Whether you are ‘STARVED’ in your relationships or maybe just have the munchies, allowing the Savior into your communication efforts is key to better effectiveness.”

Mardi Townsend addresses a BYU WOmen's Conference audience.
Mardi Townsend addresses a BYU Women’s Conference audience.

Matt Townsend later echoed Mardi Townsend’s words as he humorously addressed the “paradox” between men and women. He explained that understanding the purpose and design of our differences are a refining process that brings us closer to God. Illustrating the unique differences of men versus women, Matt Townsend referenced several studies including that of attention span length, flight versus flight, and brain wave patterns – all of which differ between men and women.

Of these differences Matt Townsend also said, “I promise that the Lord isn’t trying to torture you, he is trying to train you. He isn’t trying to inhibit you, he is trying to enable you to love unconditionally and accept these differences as divinely inspired gifts because that’s what they are.”

Speaking to the varying roles of men and women, Matt Townsend simply said, “There is power and strength in our differences.” Matt Townsend went on to address the key responsibilities for both men and women as highlighted in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. He emphasized the essential nurturing role that women play and the importance of the men upholding the role of providing, protecting and presiding in the home. 

Matt Townsend taught that there are three key ways to invite the spirit into our conversations and enhance the effectiveness of our communication. These rules are to “stay in the now,” “yield to the enticings of the spirit,” and to “look to God and live.” Matt Townsend testified that abiding by these simple rules and maintaining an eternal perspective we will have the spirit with us to help guide our daily communication.

Matt Townsend closed his remarks encouraging each sister to seek out ways to improve their communication skills across all aspects of life with the the common goal to “help one another return home to our Father.”


A BYU Women's Conference audience listens to Matt and Mardi Townsend.
A BYU Women’s Conference audience listens to Matt and Mardi Townsend.


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