When our children were little and we wanted their attention, we would put our hands on both sides of their faces so that they would have to give us undistracted eye contact. Why? We wanted to be sure that they heard what we were saying so that there would be no misunderstanding in the future. We wanted their complete attention.
Have you ever wanted to do that with your spouse? You are trying to pour out your heart, but they are focused on the TV screen, computer screen, chores around the house, text messages, and any other distraction (“A squirrel!”) that pops up.
Or maybe your spouse has wanted YOUR attention, but their timing isn’t convenient. You want to give your full attention, but there are lots of other priorities begging for your attention and giving eye contact keeps you from multi-tasking. It can feel like a waste of precious time to give eye contact.
We get it. We are two Type A’s who always believe there’s too much to do and too little time to do it. But the investment of eye contact in conversation with your spouse is never a waste of time. The benefits far outweigh the delayed project or task.
Here are some solid reasons to look your spouse in the eyes as they talk:
- You show love with your eyes.
- You are telling your spouse that what is on their heart is now on your heart through your eye contact.
- You communicate that your spouse matters more than anything else in your world.
- You cultivate the respect you desire to receive—the law of sowing what you want to reap!
- You decrease the likelihood of being misunderstood in the conversation because your spouse can read your eyes and expressions.
- You cue in on non-verbal signals your spouse is sending as they talk.
- You communicate sincerity and that you can be trusted.
- Your eye contact communicates a willingness to be vulnerable by engaging in what is being said.
- You are providing instantaneous communication with your eyes.
- You create connection and intimacy.
Keep in mind that timing matters. If you are pouring out your heart while they are preparing dinner, focusing on a repair on the home or car, or catching the tail-end of a television show or game it probably won’t result in good eye contact. In fact, you may create distance instead.
When you are looking for a good time to talk, just ask! Here’s a suggestion, ask your spouse, “When would be a good time to get _____ minutes of your undivided attention?” (Be sure to stick close to what you asked for—it will create greater trust and more communication opportunities in the days to come).
And if you are the listener, you may have to practice and discipline yourself to give good eye contact.
- Put the phone on silent and face down a couple of feet away from you.
- Turn off the TV.
- Close the lid on the computer.
- Tell the children (if they are old enough) that the two of you are going to talk for _____ minutes. It may take some training, but in time they will respect and appreciate that you are connecting.
And then gaze into your spouse’s eyes as you Build Your Marriage.