Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
When my husband doesn’t like something I say, he rolls his eyes at me. I don’t like it!
Of course, when I complain about that, he again rolls his eyes. He does it to get out of real conversations with me—where we listen and then talk.
Lately, it happens more and more. Now I leave the room when he “rolls” because I don’t want to be disrespected. He’ll follow me from room to room, though, and try to keep arguing. If I say I’m not going to argue with him, he rolls his eyes and leaves.
What’s worse is that when his kids stay with us on weekends, it’s like he taught classes to them on eye-rolling.
I can’t stand it!
No more “rolls”
Dear No More,
Eye-rolling is a sign of contempt, or the three D’s as we say: Disrespect, disdain, and disapproval.
Body language and tone-of-voice are 93 percent of our communication. Words comprise only 7 percent. When communication in a relationship is negative, contempt is often the cause and is shown with eye-rolling.
Contempt wasn’t shown by eye-rolling until the 1960s. In fact, eye rolling used to be a sign of flirting and passion. (Just look at Shakespeare.)
A noted ethologist (a new science that deals with human character and its formation and evolution), Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, said in his 1989 book “Human Ethology,” that many cultures have “similar gestures for rejecting, all involving looking away.”
Monkeys do this bit of behavior when they are mad. They turn their back to you.
Looking away from someone is a sign of arrogance and condescension. It’s an action of trying to one-up someone and show superiority.
Today, eye-rolling is over-used.
But we think your husband may not know how to communicate with you or he may need to be listened to with more understanding … even if you don’t agree.
The 3 A’s, or antidotes, for eye-rolling are: Approval, appreciate, and assurance.
Show each other that you may not approve of their idea, answer, or thought, but you approve of each other in general.
You can always appreciate who the person is and still not like something about their idea or solution.
Assure each other that you love and care about them regardless of whatever they say or do.
Don’t judge each other with your body language, tone-of-voice, or the 7 percent of words that you use to communicate.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri