Heather Marshall on November 10th, 2008

“Men and women belong to different species and communications between them is still in its infancy.” ~ Bill Cosby

Ahh, communication….  have you noticed how hard it can be?  Most fights (at least in my marriage) start due to a lack of communication.  Or, to be more accurate, a lack of UNDERSTANDABLE communication.

What do I mean by that?  Well, consider the art of “nonverbal communication.”  Women are GREAT at it… our facial expressions can tell a LOT about what is going on inside, but as I’ve been discovering, our facial expressions are not always read properly by our husbands.

Case in point: Yesterday morning, Jason and I were getting ready for church.  We thought it would be FUN to test each other on our non-verbal communication skills.  Even though we were doing it as a joke, it was interesting to see the differences in our trains of thought.

Here’s one example:  I was talking to Jason about something and - in the middle of my sentence - he begins to pretend to pick his nose.  (I know, gross)  So, my interpretation of his nose-picking communication: “Oh my gosh, is what I’m saying THAT boring/unimportant to you?!” His actual reason for pretending to pick his nose: “I just wanted to make you laugh!”

Wow, can you see the danger in relying on non-verbal communication?  What is intended and what is perceived may be VERRRRRY different from each other!!

  • An eye roll may be meant as a joke, but perceived as disgust.
  • A scowl may be due to a headache, but perceived as a personal attack.
  • A sour face while eating dinner may be due to a bit lip, but perceived as dislike toward the meal.
  • A glare may be due to a forgotten chore, but missed altogether by the intended recipient.

My advice (which I have to remind myself to take over and over again) is to use VERBAL communication in your marriage! TALK about what is bothering you.

Don’t rely on your husband to pick up on your silent messages (the couple of scowls I gave to Jason this morning were interpreted as gas pains, constipation, or being deep in thought).  He’s NOT going to get it right!!  Also, don’t interpret HIS silent messages… because chances are, the faces he makes ARE due to gas pains, constipation, or being deep in thought!!

It’s so easy to take offense at what you perceive, but the danger is that you can get angry at your husband for something that wasn’t even there to begin with!!  So, if you sense a silent message being passed to you from your husband, ASK ABOUT IT! Don’t just take offense…. talk it out.  It will make communication so much easier in the long run!!

TAKE THE CHALLENGE:

As an interesting exercise, I would like to challenge you and your husband to test your non-verbal communication skills!! On a GOOD DAY (meaning, good moods on both ends), take a period of time and playfully interpret each others’ nonverbal actions.  Be as serious or as playful as you’d like (or mix it up a little to keep the mood light), but know that there is some truth to the responses you’re getting.  Here are some things to evaluate:

  • Does he seem clueless as to your “real” meaning? (or vice versa?) Chances are, that’s the way he is when you’re really sending out your silent messages.
  • Do you assume your husband’s silent messages are a personal attack? (or vice versa?) There is a deeper issue there that needs to be addressed!
  • How close or how far you & your husband are to the “real” meanings of your non-verbal cues are most likely a direct correlation to how you respond in actual situations.

Have fun with this exercise… but learn from it as well! Because of what started as a joke yesterday morning, I have come to realize how important it is to TALK while communicating!

I’d love to hear how your exercise went! Leave a comment below!

Keep on Striving,

Heather

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Related posts:

  1. The Marriage Inventory
  2. Choose to be a Striving Wife
  3. The Gracious Wife versus The Nagging Wife
  4. Why My Husband Rocks - BIG TIME!!
  5. The Importance of the Holy Spirit

2 Responses to “Communication At Its “Best””

  1. Wow — great insight! I have been married nearly 25 years. Everything you say is dead on center.

    Keep up the good work!
    Charlotte

  2. Thanks Charlotte!

    Good to know I’m on the right track. Thanks for the encouragement!

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