How is Your Tone of Voice and Facial Expression?
I have counseled many couples where the wife complains that the husband comes across as harsh and unloving. From her pink perspective, he is frowning with disapproval or sounding stern, even angry. According to his blue point of view, he is simply making his point firmly and accurately. He can be oblivious to the damaging effects of his angry glare.
At the same time I have had many wives tell me they know they are guilty of a negative tone of voice and a sour look on their face. They don’t necessarily sound harsh; theirs is more a tone of contempt, often accompanied by a rolling of the eyes. Many women think they are saying what needs to be said; they even think they are doing a good job of saying it respectfully. But they don’t see or hear what their husband sees and hears from his blue perspective.
Obviously, the harsh or contemptuous tone and the angry or sour look are mortal enemies of communication. Marital researchers agree that a huge percentage of communication problems between husband and wife are due not to what is said but to how it is said – the attitude and tone of voice.
We’ve all been there! Will you try something with me this week?
Husbands, before communicating with your wife, will you ask yourself this question? “Is what I am about to say going to result in my wife feeling loved or unloved?”
Wives, before communicating with your husband, will you ask yourself this question? “Is what I am about to say going to result in my husband feeling respected or disrespected?”
Pausing to ask these questions can do wonders for your marriage. Breaking old habits of reacting can be difficult, but it can be done if you truly want to make these changes.
Our Personal Experience...
Shawn and I were introduced to Dr. Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs early in our relationship. The book Love & Respect was truly eye opening in the fact that men have a strong desire to be respected and women have a strong desire to be loved. In fact, this is a biblical truth found in Ephesians 5:33 when Paul said “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” He wasn’t talking about a romantic love or a subservient respect. Paul means a fully self-sacrificial love and respect that puts the other’s needs above their own, the way that Christ did for his church.
Back to tones… The blog above was Shawn and me in a nutshell. Dr. Emerson writes about men speaking in blue and women speaking in pink. Shawn spoke and heard in blue and I spoke and heard in pink. Shawn is very direct, and he likes to be very “emphatic” about what he is saying. I like to speak loudly with a variety of facial movements and hand gestures. I say it is “speaking Italian” since that is my heritage. He calls it sass, plain and simple. :)
These tones have caused quite a few arguments over our time together. Neither of us meant any disrespect or “unlovingness”, but our tones and loudness quickly escalated and were perceived as harsh and sassy (unloving and disrespectful). Love & Respect helped us to see this as a major problem that needed to be addressed quickly. As we began to practice our previously discussed “How can I show you love today?” daily question to one another, we incorporated tone into the mix. I would ask Shawn to speak kindly to me in our conversations and he would ask me to speak respectfully, without sass. I really didn’t feel that I was sassy and he didn’t feel that he was speaking unkindly but we both honored each other’s requests.
It is amazing how difficult that can be to do for an entire day, let alone a lifetime together! Over time we have come to realize how our tones affect each other and we have tried hard to break the habits. We still slip from time to time, but we quickly remind each other and we both realize that we are not trying to hurt the other, so it doesn’t escalate. We now both speak and hear mostly in violet!
Speaking of violet, did you hear that ultra-violet was the color of the year for 2018? At Sandlewood Manor, we are more than just an exclusive Houston wedding venue. We care about the marriages of our brides and grooms and truly want to empower our couples to learn to communicate and love for a lifetime! We hope you’ll come see all that we have to offer for your wedding ceremony and reception and learn about our Love for a Lifetime program that we offer complimentary to our couples.
~ Lauren & Shawn Sparks (Owners)
"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body." Proverbs 16:24
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