Today marks the kick off to National Marriage Week (Feb. 7-14) with World Marriage Day celebrated on Sunday, Feb. 11. This year's theme is "Love Beyond Words." Our relationship coaching clients know that love beyond words is about nonverbal communication. Non-verbal communication is easy to miss, however it says volumes about the condition of a relationship.
Here are some ways to improve relationship non-verbals.
-Before speaking, check in with yourself. What is your current mood? Are you angry or stressed? It could be stress coming from something else: work, self-care, children, etc. Sometimes we carry underlying stress and we are not even aware of how it is affecting us. If your words are saying one thing but your vibe is sending another, the listener may feel you are being dishonest or that something is wrong. Also pay attention to tone and how quickly you speak, which can send a message of frustration or anger when it may be something completely unrelated.
-When a partner communicates with you, do you look that partner in the eye? Do you put down the phone or what you are reading? Not giving our partner our full attention sends a message that they are not a priority.
-Pay attention to whether your body is open or closed. A closed position would be arms or legs crossed.
-When you and your partner are spending time together, even watching TV or sitting at the beach, are you stuck in your own heads or focused on social media? Make an effort to be present with your partner, even if you are silent and sharing a sunset. You can reach out and connect with your partner by holding hands or touching their arm or leg. These subtle non-verbal gestures send your partner a message that you are connected to them.
While some of these suggestions might seem obvious or simple, don't underestimate their value. Researchers warn that 70 to 90 percent of communication is non-verbal. When your words match the non-verbal cues you are sending, your communication sends a clear message.