It’s not just what we say that speaks volumes, but it’s also how we say it. Plus, it’s how we posture ourselves while we’re speaking, or our spouse is speaking that is important. Our body language speaks volumes. Sometimes it even speaks louder than our words.
An example of this is the rolling of the eyes. That speaks volumes all in itself! Or how about the spouse who is looking beyond you at someone else while you’re talking to him or her?
In our many years of marriage, we’ve learned that our body language often speaks more than anything else we could say. Spoken words are not the only things that convey a message.
I remember certain incidences in the past when I’d try to talk with Steve, and I’d notice that his eyes would wander off to look at his phone, his computer, the TV, or something else. I felt very put off. Eventually, I got to the point where I decided I wasn’t going to compete with whatever he was looking at. I told him, “I can see that I’ve lost your attention. When it’s a better time to talk, please let me know.” And then I just stood there. That shook him out of his pre-occupation elsewhere. He then apologized, turned my way and gave me his full focus.
That happened a number of times until he finally “got it.” He now tries to make it a point to face me and engage in listening when I’m talking to him. I truly appreciate that.
On the other hand, however, I also try to make sure that I’m not interrupting something important he is doing. Right up front, I now ask, “Is this a good time to talk?” That helps both of us. I’m being considerate of him and he’s being considerate of me. We now both do that. Our talk AND our body language now lines up with each other stating, “You are my priority right now.”
This leads to the point that we posted on the Marriage Missions Facebook page a while ago:
“Make sure when your spouse is trying to communicate something important, that you turn your attention his or her way. Regard that time as something important. That’s because it should be; and it IS. Look directly into your marriage partner’s eyes when he or she speaks, showing that you ARE paying attention. Your body language says so.”
Our Body Language Matters Too
Now I realize that this goes both ways. There have been times when Steve would be talking and I’d start chopping vegetables. I’d rationalize that I’m a “multi-tasker.” Additionally, I’d justify it by thinking, “I’m busy; I can do two things at once.” It’s “funny” how I’d justify my multi-tasking, but when Steve would do it, I’d perceive that he was rude. I now see that something’s wrong in that reasoning.
Also, when Steve would come home after he had been away for a while, many times I’d just stay at my computer working. I’d just say, “hi” from there, rather than getting up and personally greeting him. But the Lord convicted me on that one too. It has been said that how you greet each other, sets the tone for the rest of your day or evening together. It’s true:
“A good greeting sets the stage for positive, healthy interaction. Like love, it puts wind in your sails. Your greetings don’t have to be bold and dramatic every time. But adding warmth and enthusiasm gives you the chance to touch your mate’s heart in unspoken ways.” (Alex and Stephen Kendrick)
The Lord has let me know: “Get up and greet him like you care that he comes in the door. Don’t take his coming home for granted.” I also noted that our dog seemed happier to see Steve than I did on some days. And that’s NOT good! Sure, I can’t wag a tail like a dog. And I can’t imagine that Steve would want to be jumping up and down. (That would not be a good picture for anyone to see.) But I can certainly do better than staying put and yelling out “hi” from the other room.
Spouse Who Comes Home
Thankfully, I’ve woken up to realize that many spouses don’t come home. I shouldn’t take it for granted that mine does. Thankfully, I have a good one who does. And thankfully, I have a husband who CAN come home. Many of my friends are widows. Trust me; they would give anything to be able to greet their spouse at the door enthusiastically. So I need to do better than I sometimes did in the past.
One day we heard a radio talk host talking about spouses who take each other for granted. They will go more than the extra mile before marriage to affirm their fiancé. But after they marry, many fall into the bad habit of being anything but affirming. It’s like it’s okay to be rude and to do things that you would never think of doing to another friend. And yet with this person that you vowed to love, and honor, you act in insensitive ways. What’s up with that?
As the host stated, which we both agree… AFTER marriage we should make even more effort to not allow ourselves to take each other for granted. We need to be careful not to be rude, yell, scream, and act unkind. It’s important NOT to join the “take the spouse for granted” club. This is because in doing so, we can kill our marriage relationships.
So, we hope you will join Steve and me in making extra effort in NOT justifying rude actions on our parts. We are to put intentionality into giving our spouses the attention they need, as our marriage partners. And that means making sure our body language says, “You are the most important human being in my life.”
To Help You Further:
Additionally, here additional thoughts to prayerfully consider on the issue Body Language given by some “experts”:
“People may lie, but their body silently and unconsciously speaks the truth. Having the right knowledge in body language allows you to uncover what your friends, co-workers, spouse, customers or anyone else, may be hiding from you. You might even understand other people’s thoughts or feelings better than they do! Let’s face it. Even if you trust someone with your life, you’ll never have peace of mind unless you know exactly what they’re feeling or thinking inside.” (Kevin Hogan, from his article, “Reading Body Language Like The Body Language Expert”)
With that said, here are a couple of additional thoughts on how body language can affect you and/or your spouse:
“Your expressions can impact the strength of your marriage. According to Dr. John Gottman and colleagues, marriages are more prone to fail when one spouse responds to the other’s happy face with an expression of contempt. With this lack of empathy, the grumpy spouse wipes the smile off the smiling spouse’s face—then no one’s happy.” (Cara Plett, from her article, “Head-to-toe: Must-know Body Language for a Happy Marriage”)
Isn’t that the truth?
“When chatting with your spouse, do you glance sideways, behind them or over their shoulder? Body language experts agree you’re making it clear that you think focusing on anything—a different person or a cobweb on your ceiling—would be more enjoyable than talking to your spouse at that moment.” (Cara Plett)
Also, concerning body language, take note:
“When you tap your fingers, you appear impatient and possibly nervous about waiting. If you’re a finger tapper, be aware that it’s one of those nonverbal signals that can grate on others’ nerves.” Also: “When you tilt your head to the side, it usually means you’re listening intently and deeply interested in finding out the information you’re being told. It can also mean you’re concentrating very hard.” (Lauren Guilbeault, from her article, “22 Body Language Examples and What They Show”)
“A spouse might show body language that shows feelings of superiority. The spouse may hold the head back and look down at the spouse as if he/she is inferior. A spouse may cross arms defensively or roll eyes sarcastically. They might crinkle their nose at the other. All the time, they probably are not aware of the body language they are displaying. If you want to demonstrate more constructive body language, breathe deeply. Line up your body with your spouse’s. Drop your arms and lean in gently. Nod your head as you listen. In shaky moments, touch your spouse’s arm or hold hands.” (Esmarelda Du Plessis)
And then Jay Chanthalangsy gives this tip:
“Just like listening, physical affection can also be productive in communicating with your spouse. Nonverbal body language can speak volumes when communicating with your sensitive spouse. Just a simple touch or laying your hand on their hand will let them know that you care and are there for them.”
Be wise in what you say and what you do. That should be a “given.” But too often we forget that! Below is a scripture to keep in mind and follow (when applicable) where God instructs us with body language contained within it.
God tells us:
“If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.” (Proverbs 30:32-33)
It’s important to remember: Love is both a noun and a verb. We experience it, but we are also wise if we show it. Our words speak volumes but our body language does too.
As you speak verbally, plus in your actions, proceed with God’s wisdom and keep in mind:
“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” (Proverbs 24:3-4)
Be wise in your words AND your actions!
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
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