Communication can be difficult in marriage because men and women hear things differently. Communication breakdown can cause tragic outcomes in the best of marriages. No matter where you are in your marriage, becoming a better communicator will enhance your relationship even more. When we are happy, we don’t give a lot of thought to the way we communicate with our spouses. But when we feel frustrated, misunderstood, lonely, hurt, disrespected, or unloved, our communication can become a huge issue in a hurry.
One of the ways our communication gets derailed is through our body language. Our body language communicates far more of what we want to say than our words. Our facial expressions and motions often speak volumes. The Bible teaches us that gracious words are like a honeycomb (Prov 16:24). It also warns us that taming the tongue can be one of the hardest things to do when we are hurt and angry (Jas 3:8). But our words are not the only thing that derails communication. Our tone and expressions play a huge role. What signals are you communicating when you are in conflict with your spouse? Do you roll your eyes, scowl, shake your head in disdain, or avoid eye contact? Do you have an intimidating posture that makes them retreat when they sense your disapproval? Do you sigh or interrupt your spouse when they are trying to communicate? Do you check out of the conversation or even begin preparing your response/rebuttal before you have truly listened to what they are trying to communicate?
Learning to harness your body language toward respectful response during conflict is a major key to successful communication. Your body language can either shout out “I love you, I appreciate you, and I value you and what you have to say,” or it can shout out “I don’t respect or value you. If you consider yourself to be a great communicator, most likely your body language plays a huge role in your excellent communication skills. If you could use some help in the communication area, here are a few guidelines:
• Keep your face calm and relaxed by relaxing all the muscles around your eyes and forehead. Focus on relaxing your jaw so that your teeth are not clenched.
• Use open hand gestures that communicate to your spouse that you are open to interaction with them.
• Keep good eye contact with them so that they can see that you are engaged. Keep your gaze soft and inviting.
• Nod your head to let them know that you understand what they are saying and respect their right to voice their view, even if you don’t agree with them. This communicates a genuine interest in them and will make them more receptive to your point of view and suggestions when it is your turn to speak.
• Lean toward them to show a desire for connection and resolve. Taking ahold of their hand also communicates intimacy, tenderness, and respect.
• Smile. Smiling is contagious and inviting. A genuine smile at the right moment can diffuse tension.
• Make eye contact. Eye contact communicates ‘I’m listening, I am valuing you, I am patiently listening.’
You don’t have to agree with your spouse to value them. Give them the respect that they deserve in your body language and countenance. If you practice these guidelines, you will be well on your way to feeling loved and respected even during times of frustration and disagreement.
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