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Body Language

By:  Donna Martin

Has your spouse ever entered the room and after a few minutes said, “What’s wrong with you?”  You haven’t even said a word, but he knows something is not right.  He may just have a great intuition, but most likely your body language has sent some kind of message that lets him know you are not in the best mood.  Studies have shown that body language can constitute 50 to 70% of what we are communicating.

Body language can make a huge difference when trying to resolve a conflict with a spouse or anyone for that matter.  Sometimes a calm discussion can turn into an all out argument as a result of the way people communicate with their bodies.

Rolling the eyes, long stares while squinting the eyes, frowning, pursing the lips, placing hands on the hips can all convey anger and can be demeaning to the person who is receiving these forms of body language.

Some forms of body language show more aggression. Standing up and clinching fists can indicate aggressiveness and the desire to overpower the other person.  Shaking a finger at someone or pointing at them is also aggressive behavior that cuts off communication.  Slamming doors, banging on tables or throwing things are like making mock attacks on the other person.

This aggressive behavior can cause the other person to become defensive.  This defensive behavior is often displayed through crossing the arms, or the person may grasp something like a pillow to hold in front of his body.  She may slump or draw her body into a smaller position.

All of these body gestures cut off verbal communication and do not help resolve conflicts.  If anything aggressive body language escalates the conflict.  When a spouse is displaying these actions, then the other spouse must point it out, tell the other person how it makes him feel, and call for a time out until emotions calm down.

Couples need to talk about how their body language affects communication.  Often just making the other person aware of their body language is all it takes to improve communication and the relationship.  Many times a person is unaware of their body language and how it blocks communication until someone points it out to them and explains how it makes him or her feel.

Ephesians 4:31 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice.” (NIV)

The Martins currently present “Happy Together” Marriage Enrichment Events for churches and organizations.  To schedule an event call Michael at 940-735-1515. They are certified “Prepare/Enrich” Facilitators and are available to work with couples on an individual basis using the “Prepare/Enrich Assessment.”  They publish a weekly “Happy Together” Blog about family and marriage issues.  You can order copies of their new books Dancing With Death and 366 Tidbits We Have Learned in 14,610 Days of Marriage, read, and subscribe to their “Happy Together” Blog by logging onto the Martin’s website at

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