When even your computer can tell your marriage has problems

New computer programs examine the speech of couples can now predict the quality of a marriage. What does your nonverbal communication say about your marriage?

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  • By programming a computer to examine the speech of couples, researchers at the universities of Southern California and Utah can now predict whether or not the relationship will get better, get worse, or stay the same. The computerized analysis focused entirely on speech qualities such as tone, pitch, and intensity.

  • Clearly, how you speak can make or break your marriage.

  • Is your tonal message one of anger or sarcasm? Does your voice come across as cool, flat, or even blaming? Or is your tone typically warm and accepting? Your marriage is impacted not only by what you say, but by how you say it.

  • Another study conducted at the University of California at Los Angeles indicated that up to 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues.

  • Nonverbal communication clearly matters. Nonverbal messages, such as eye contact or facial expressions, speak volumes about how you feel about your spouse and others.

  • How can you change both your tone of voice and your body language in ways that can improve your marriage?

  • Below are a few things to ask yourself that could improve your nonverbal communication, taken from "The Language of Emotional Intelligence" by Jeanne Segal, PhD:

  • 1. What do your eyes say?

  • When you look at your spouse, do you glare, or are your eyes full of warmth?

  • 2. What does your facial expression say?

  • Do you look interested in what she's saying, or are you thinking of something else, when she's talking?

  • 3. What does your posture and body stance communicate?

  • Are you relaxed and approachable when you talk to him? Or is your jaw clenched and your shoulders tight?

  • 4. How do you feel when you touch each other?

  • Does it make you feel warm and intimate? Do you enjoy the same kinds of physical contact?

  • Your nonverbal communication may be even more important to the health of your marriage than the things you actually say to each other. Check your nonverbal communications skills the next time you are with your partner.

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