Mind Over Matter
‘Mind Reading’ is one of those clairvoyant arts that seems to elude us when it comes to marriage. Too often we make the mistake of assuming that our spouse knows what we need without communicating clearly about it. How many times have we, or our spouse, declared in exasperation to the injured one: “I’m not a mind reader! You have to tell me what you need if you want me to help!”? Yet when it comes to communicating negative, judgemental or critical thoughts our ‘mind reading’ capacity seems to have a more sensitive radar.
Think ‘jerk’, ‘idiot’, ‘loser’, ‘bitch’ or any other derogatory thought about your spouse and, if they are in range, they are likely to pick up the negative vibes. Truth be told it’s not actually mind reading at work. When we think negative thoughts or harbour resentment or chronic frustration, those thoughts and emotions are involuntarily expressed in our body. Even if the words we say are positive and polite, our spouse can usually detect the edge to the tone, the rigidity in our gestures, the flash of contempt in our eyes. And as Steven Stosny points out, even when our words are entirely positive, we come across to our loved ones as manipulative and dishonest and we will almost certainly get a defensive, negative reaction.
Our Primary Language…
Body language is indeed a powerful communicator. It’s even more powerful than verbal language. In fact, when it comes to matters of the heart, our body is more believable than our words. Call it the ‘Bull Shit Detector’: we know when our spouse is saying all the right things with their words but thinking or feeling something else! They may say that they’re fine, but their body is SCREAMING that something is definitely not fine. Or they may say that they love you, but it’s clear that it’s not heartfelt.
So next time you’re tempted to suppress negative thoughts and emotions with superficial words of peace and joy to your loved ones – STOP! Take an honest look at yourself first: look past the immediate hurt or irritation and get in touch with your deepest values and desires: the desire to be one with your spouse, the desire to be a source of genuine life-giving love. Only then will you be able to make an authentic connection.