Not everything you say comes from your mouth; so not everything that weakens your marriage comes out of your mouth either. Most of the things you communicate — especially when you are upset, angry or in the middle of a discussion — are not from what you say, but what you do with your eyes, hands and head. In short, your body language says more than your words, and others receive these messages both consciously and unconsciously.
For example, turning your face away from your husband when he’s clearly talking to you is letting him know you’re upset, without using a single word. Likewise, in the middle of a fight, sometimes we do things that are not conscious. We must be very careful about this, because we inflict the same degree of pain and damage to the relationship as with the things we communicate consciously.
Here are some behaviors that are hard to stop, but are better to remove from our repertoire, as they weaken our relationships and lead to destructive routines.
1. Rolling your eyes
We all know how this works: Your spouse says something that you don’t agree with and you look at the sky, rolling your eyes. I don’t know if we think our spouse is blind, or if we don’t realize we’re doing it, but doing this only worsens the situation because it sends a very direct message: “I don’t agree with what you’re saying, I do not respect what you say, and I have no intention of trying to understand you.” And then we don’t understand why our spouses suddenly get more angry when we haven’t even said a word.
2. Crossing your arms
There is no better way to prove that you are on the defense than this. Not only that, but the act of crossing your arms shows you are also closed to listening and understanding what your spouse is saying. I’ve noticed that when I stop crossing my arms, I see myself as more friendly and intending to fix things, rather than defending my point of view tooth and nail.
3. Avoiding eye contact
Many people avoid eye contact when they’re really mad and feel justified doing so. The problem is that avoiding eye contact sends the message, “I do not care about you,” even if we don’t mean to send it.
4. Turning your back
There is nothing worse than feeling like you are talking to the wall. Turning your back to someone causes that same feeling because you are not showing your spouse the small, but important, respect of looking at him. Instead, we let him talk to himself.
No matter how angry we are, or how justified we feel in doing these four behaviors, here’s my advice: Always avoid them. You can say that you only do it because you’re angry; I know it’s not always easy to facilitate communication, but we make it even more complicated by adding unkind body language that doesn’t do any favors to your relationship. These attitudes have the potential to leave deep marks that time won’t easily erase.
This article is a translation and adaptation of the original article, 4 cosas que haces a diario sin darte cuenta, y debilitan tu matrimonio.