As the Houston relationship therapist, I’ve learned how to identify an unhappy couple within moments simply by observing the body language of both partners. The signs of a failing relationship become especially apparent when a couple argues. Some experts say that body language is 90% of communication, so if you’re displaying any combative body language – even if you’re not arguing – your partner will definitely pick up on it, and a fight may ensue. If you were already fighting, your body language will most certainly escalate the situation.

But by identifying common examples of argumentative body language, you can learn to stay calm and temper your reaction to your partner, with the ultimate result of fewer marriage problems and a healthier relationship.

Houston Relationship Therapist: Common Examples of Argumentative Body Language

There are several emotions communicated by the body that can lead to or exacerbate a couple’s fights. Frustration and anger are the most obvious. If you’re breathing heavily, pointing with your index finger, wringing your hands, or rubbing your temples, you’re telling your partner that you’re mad. Extreme examples include throwing or kicking objects in the room. If you find yourself displaying any of these frustration indicators, remove yourself from the argument until you can calm down and identify what exactly is making you so angry. Don’t re-enter the situation until you are back in control of yourself.

Body language that displays contempt is just as bad. It can take a fight from zero to sixty in seconds flat. You might find yourself rolling your eyes, shaking your head, or even sneering. Contempt of your partner is a serious problem, and if you’ve been feeling this way, then you would almost certainly benefit from talking about your marriage problems with a qualified professional like the Houston relationship therapist.

Defensiveness is another emotion that commonly comes up during couples’ fights. If you’re crossing your arms or legs, moving or turning away from your partner, shrinking your shoulders and avoiding eye contact, or putting a hand or object between you and your partner, you’re probably feeling defensive. When you find yourself exhibiting these behaviors, make a conscious effort to open yourself up, even if your partner really is attacking you.

The final emotion commonly demonstrated by body language in arguments is boredom. Closely related to contempt, you’re telling your partner that you’re not interested – even if you’re not talking – when you hum, doodle, or write while your partner is talking, stare into space, or drum your fingers. There’s no quicker way to detonate a relationship than to stop caring about your partner’s thoughts and emotions, so seek relationship help immediately if you find yourself displaying any of these boredom indicators.

Identifying combative body language is only the first step in improving your relationship with your partner. There’s no substitute for qualified marriage counseling, so if you find yourself in constant fights, seek help the Houston relationship therapist as soon as you can.