Communication is about more than just talking. We’ve learned that we communicate with each other through our words and through the tone of voice we use within those words. Talking is a very small part of the communication process.
Our nonverbal communication- facial expressions, body language, posture, eye contact, touch, and attitude have so much to do with communication. Who knew? Do not underestimate your nonverbal communication with your spouse. It has the power to lift up or tear down your relationship.
One woman said of her husband, “I’m the luckiest person in the world. I feel cherished and loved by my husband. He’s taught me how to daily stop, look, and listen. I can’t tell you how special it makes me feel when he stops what he’s doing and just holds my hands and listens to me when I tell him about my day. He fills our home with gratefulness and appreciation.” You’re probably thinking, “Wow, this guy’s got some superhuman power.”
This woman, smiling, went on to say, “He was severely injured in the war in Afghanistan. He can no longer speak or hear, but he can read lips. He’s a great listener, though, because he listens for my needs, hurts, fears, and hopes. He communicates so clearly by just holding my hands. He brings such warmth to our relationship.” Isn’t this so tender and beautiful? She thought his injury would break them apart after his healing journey and physical therapy. Instead, what she discovered was a deeper connection to her husband using nonverbal communication. Their marriage was restored after all the difficult times and it was strengthened without the use of words. According to Burns & Fields, this courageous couple learned to practice the Triple A’s of Communication: Affection, Atmosphere, and Attention.
You may be familiar with Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages book? Affection (Physical Touch) is a “love language,” along with Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, and Quality of Time. Tim Keller, another great author and Pastor, calls affection “love currency” in his book The Meaning of Marriage. Have you ever thought of communication as a language or currency to express your love? Affection, a form of nonverbal communication, is one of the most influential demonstrators of love. We’re not talking about sex here, Gents, although that is a strong form of affection and communication. Regular, nonsexual affection can be one of the most powerful forms of communication between you and your spouse. A simple touch lets you see into the soul of your spouse. Love can be demonstrated through a touch, a nuzzle, a cuddle, holding her hand, rubbing his neck, a tender kiss.
Affection is more than touch. A simple, inexpensive gift. Taking time to plan a special date. Making arrangements for a babysitter. That scores big points for you Fella’s! Just sayin’. You don’t need to save for a big and extravagant once-a-year gift to bring the Wow factor. Small notes left on the bathroom mirror or on the steering wheel, flowers just because, or a dessert from her favorite restaurant. Small ways to show big love.
Whether you’ve got little ones running amok or teens you’re trying to wrangle, your home and surroundings can get rather chaotic. Even if you don’t have children at home, it’s easy for our marriage to be choked out by busyness and other circumstances. In the middle of all of this, a couple has to learn how to create an atmosphere of warmth in their home and relationship. No home has done this perfectly, friend, but the difference between a flourishing marriage and a poor one is often found in the atmosphere or tone it brings in the home. It takes great effort to build a positive environment, but friends, it can be done, and we believe it can happen.
If you’re unable to turn your home into a sanctuary, then create a comfortable atmosphere in one room. Move your desk and computer from your bedroom. Put your TV in another room or give to a family in need. Turn your bedroom into a stress-free zone rather than a workspace. These simple endeavors will keep the atmosphere of your relationship at a healthy climate.
You may have heard or thought these statements, “My husband doesn’t listen to me,” or “My wife is so distracted by so many other things I don’t feel I am a priority.” Listening (not hearing), really listening, is a love language. Paying close attention to how you’re listening to your spouse is important. Attentive listening may not come naturally for some of you, resulting in selective listening or becoming passive. Intimacy can go through the roof when you show the ability to understand and share your feelings with one another. Like your normal habits of the day, that were learned at some point, intentional listening is a habit to be learned, and can be learned. It is such a wonderful gift to give your spouse. Paying attention and listening is not just with your ears, it involves eye contact with your spouse and empathy from your heart.
Out of all the forms of communication to be mastered, listening should be at the top of the list. What has James instructed us do to? “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19). Fervent listening is a skill that will serve you well throughout your marriage. It will serve you well in your parenting. It will serve you well in all of your relationships. Here’s a little secret: Lay aside your self-centeredness and listen without an agenda or wanting to answer right away. You can positively influence those around you with your ability to give undivided attention, in a nonverbal manner.
To Do This Week:
- One way to create a warm and positive atmosphere is to pause, to take a moment or few minutes, before you get home and pray and prepare your heart. If you are a stay-at-home mom or you work at home, take time to breathe, set your heart before the Lord, before re-engaging with those at home. A peaceful heart creates a peaceful atmosphere.
- Here’s something fun: Schedule a day (or half a day) to use only nonverbal communication with each other. Hold hands. Hug. Write a note to each other. Send a link to a song on Spotify.
Content based on one of many fabulous resources: Getty Ready for Marriage by Jim Burns & Doug Fields. A great book for you dating, engaged, and married couples. Visit their website: HomeWord. Jim and Doug believe in STRONG MARRIAGES, CONFIDENT PARENTS, and EMPOWERED KIDS and have partnered together to strengthen and equip parents, couples, and families.