People are often unaware that the way they stand, the position of their arms and the expression on their face can communicate far more than the words they speak. Chuck and Barb Snyder devote a chapter to this topic in their book, Incompatibility: Still Grounds for a Great Marriage (Multnomah Publishers, 2006).
How Important is Body Language in Marriage
Chuck and Barb Snyder report that an estimated 55% of communication is through body language, 35% is through tone of voice, 2% is through intuition and only 8% is through words spoken. People generally interpret body language without realizing they are doing so and this is even more pronounced in a close marriage relationship. Many couples can communicate with a single look, eye movement or gesture.
What Kind of Body Language do Married Couples Use
Here are some examples of good and bad body language:
- Feet -rubbing a spouse’s feet is a sign of affection
- Toes – lifting toes while standing can be a sign of stress
- Crossed arms and legs can be a sign of withdrawal and creating a barrier
- Slumped shoulders are as sign of exhaustion or defeat
- Fiddling with the hands can indicate nervousness or boredom
- Slamming doors is a sign of anger. Men normally slam a door when leaving a house and women slam a door when retreating to a bedroom or place where they feel safe
- Good eye contact indicates interest and trust
- Lack of eye contact can reveal guilt
Working on Improving Body Language
For body language to improve and change for the better, there needs to be a positive change to inner feelings. This can come about through communication and discussion. It can be helpful to comment on the other person’s body language without making accusations. Explain feelings in “I” sentences rather than “you” sentences. For example, “I feel like I’m boring you when you watch the TV while I’m talking to you.”
Focus on Positive Body Language in Marriage
Marriages thrive in a positive atmosphere and body language can go a long way to creating this. Although it may feel stilted at first, concentrate on expressing good feelings and appreciation through body language. Here are some ideas of where to start.
- Add a hug to a goodbye kiss
- Kiss properly – don’t peck
- Use eyes to show admiration and interest
- Lean forward to show good listening skills
- Don’t fold arms across the chest like a barrier
- Relax and smile with mouth, cheeks and eyes
Like any language, body language takes time to learn. While many people are good at interpreting what others are communicating with non-verbal signs, they don’t realize what they are transmitting themselves. With thought and concentrated effort, most married couples can improve their relationship by working on their unspoken communication .
Snyder, Chuck and Barb. Incompatibility, Still Grounds for a Great Marriage. Multnomah Publishers, 2006, ISBN 13: 978-1590528167