Because of the work that I do, I get to research the subjects of marriage, love, sex and the Christian church. Almost two years ago I ran across a study done by Dr. John Gottman, who claims to be able to predict the success of a marriage with 80% accuracy based on one thing: subtle body language.
This was intriguing to me; could I learn what to look for and also be able to predict if a couple will stay together or not? This could be valuable knowledge. I read that one of the biggest cues is eye-rolling, apparently a response to your spouse in this fashion indicates contempt. Contempt. I quickly read on to learn about more factors, thinking smugly that I was glad I didn’t do this.
Until I did.
My guy made a comment about something I didn’t agree with, I let him know how I felt and realized that he was not going to change his stance, so I rolled my eyes as I walked away from him. Contempt? I didn’t think so. But it doesn’t really matter what I thought, what mattered was the lack of respect I was showing my husband in dismissing him and his opinion.
I started to notice every time I rolled my eyes, not just at my guy, but also at strangers and my family members and immediately was struck each time with the word: contempt. I forced myself to stop and think about what I was feeling towards the person and often came up with emotions like frustration, confusion, apathy and anger but not contempt. And yet that is exactly what I was conveying.
How about you, does your body language line up with the way you are feeling? I had to stop this behavior, and replace it with sharing my true feelings for the person if we were in relationship, and just letting go of emotions around people I didn’t know. We have a choice, to use our subtle cues to encourage or to tear down, and it may take some practice, but I think it’s worth it to be intentional with our language.