Marriage Advice for Using Body Talk to Communicate and
By Susie and Otto Collins
when you were a kid and all it took was one look
from your mom, your dad, or even your teacher to
were in trouble-big time.
Often this message
came in the form of folded arms, a set jaw, and
lowered (glowering) eyes.
Oh boy, when your parent or teacher struck this
pose and gave you this look, you knew you'd done
something he or she didn't like!
Today with your partner you might even adopt
such a pose and piercing gaze when you are
unhappy with him or her.
It's a body talk that
communicates in no uncertain terms that your
partner has something to make amends for.
Is this the only way we use our bodies to talk?
Of course not. When we want love and closeness,
we also send messages
with our bodies- reaching for your love's hand
or a passionate glint in your eye.
And when reading the body talk of those we love,
is it always accurate? Sometimes the messages
you send with your body let the other person
know what you are feeling, but other times it
can be confusing and misleading.
is your mate
really angry with you or is he or she just
chilly and wanting a jacket?
Our point here is not that body talk is good or
bad or that you should or shouldn't use it to
communicate your love. As you've probably
experienced, you often send messages with your
body whether or not you intend to.
Instead, we encourage you to become more aware
of the messages you might be sending with your
body and to get curious about what you think you
are reading in another's body.
Ali was sure she did something really awful to
make her husband, Pete, mad. From the moment he
came home, Pete seemed to Ali to be quiet and
She noticed that he even kept his back
turned to her as she asked about his day (for
the second time).
He wasn't normally like this and Ali felt
fearful that his body talk meant there was
something bothering him that she was
As she asked if she'd done
something to upset him, Pete seemed to withdraw
even further. Ali feels helpless and confused.
As you can see with Ali and Pete, body talk can
indicate when your mate is closing or opening to
However, if you misinterpret body talk and
jump to conclusions about what you think is
being communicated, chances are your love will
close down to you even more than before.
Keep in touch with your own body talk.
You can only know best what you are feeling in
your own skin and therefore communicating with
your own body. When trying to understand what
your love is communicating, it's advisable to
start by tuning in to how you are feeling.
If Ali was more in touch with her own feelings
leading up to the scenario above, she'd realize
a sense of vulnerability and insecurity.
Knowing that about her own emotional state,
might clue Ali in that what she thinks Pete's
body is talking may be more about her own
feelings than his.
You can keep in touch with your own body talk
and feelings in many ways.
You might take 10
minutes a day to just sit quietly and meditate
or clear your mind. A less cluttered mind
allows you better access to feelings you may not
have been aware of.
Breathing can also help. While driving,
whenever you are stopped by a red light or a
stop sign, take that moment to take a deep belly
Again, this clears the mind and brings
you back to the present and feelings you are
Get curious about what you think your partner's
body is communicating.
We can't stress this one enough! If you are sure
your partner's body talk is telling you
something, get curious about it first. After
tuning in to how you are feeling, ask your
partner if your perceptions are accurate.
It backfired when Ali repeatedly questioned Pete
about why he was angry with her. In fact, Pete
had received a disturbing phone call from a
friend that he wasn't ready to
talk about yet.
If Ali had become curious (rather than jumping
to a conclusion that it was all about her), Pete
may have been able to let her know her
perceptions were not accurate and that he would
share with her about it later.
Trying to interpret your partner's body talk can
be filled with about as many traps and tricks as
a fun house-though it isn't always very fun!
clear about what you are feeling and remind
yourself that your partner's body talk may not
be what you think it is and that it may not be
get curious about what's going on, you may find
that you are both better able to stay open and
For more communication tips to help you create
great relationships, visit