Reading Body Language Warning Signs
In Gottman’s relationship research, he found that a major warning sign to the survival of marriages is Body Language. When a couple begins to work through conflicts and issues, I watch for the body language of one or both partners. The wife may sit and immediately fold her harms as a way of protecting herself emotionally and the husband sits at the farthest end of the couch. As the discussion begins, I can see one spouse begin to clinch fists or eye brows turn inward while the other spouse seems to shrink into the couch. The conversation has a harsh startup and defensiveness and stonewalling quickly follow.
Body Language Fear
The body responds to fear whether it be a pit bull attacking or an angry spouse expressing frustration about the relationship. The heart begins to pound faster and faster while the breathing quickly becomes erratic. The nervous system is stressed and the mind moves into a flight (become critical, defiant, or defensive) or fight (stonewall) for protection. In this kind of mode, the brain is unable to process information in a meaningful way and becomes more difficult to pay attention. Creativity and humor are no longer possibility. Resolving the conflict in this kind of state will not be possible and rather may make it worse.
Living In A Dead Marriage
Gottman observed, “Frequently feeling flooded leads almost inevitably to emotional distancing, which in turn leads to feeling lonely. Without help, the couple will end up divorced or living in a dead marriage in which they maintain separate, parallel lives in the same home. They may go through the motions of togetherness–attending their children’s plays, hosting dinner parties, taking family vacations. But emotionally they no longer feel connected to each other. They have given up.”
Seek Marriage Counseling Today!
If you or your spouse or both are reading this article and thinking, “This is my marriage,” then please contact our counseling center immediately to setup a relationship therapy session with one of our qualified, experienced, and highly trained marriage counselors. Please don’t live another day in a dead marriage living separate, parallel lives in the same house with your partner!