What If Your Spouse Came With Emojis?

Emojis are the little faces and symbols we use to clarify the intent and feeling behind the words we text, tweet, and post. It was once just elementary school children who drew smiley faces on ruled paper, but now CEO’s in suits are tacking these little faces on the end of their electronic communications. Emojis are the hieroglyphics of our time.

Wouldn’t it be great if emoji’s showed up on your spouse’s forehead to tell you what they were thinking and feeling? Think about it! No more wondering what’s really going on behind their words and actions.  No more having to pay attention to their tone of voice or their body language. No more asking questions or listening all the way to the end of the sentence. Just check the emoji on their forehead! It would cut down on misunderstandings and reduce the time it takes to communicate. (I guess it could also backfire. I would probably see one of those scrunched up faces with the tongue sticking out…which would hurt my feelings and bruise my ego.)

Well, like it or not, your spouse did come with emojis. They’re not the little round faces or symbols that portray emotion, but they are just as effective in communicating what your spouse is trying to tell you. That’s because only 30% of what your spouse communicates is in the words they use. The other 70% is in their emojis. Here’s a list of some emojis your spouse is using:

  • Tone of Voice. – Your spouse’s tone of voice is an emoji that can reveal the emotion behind their words. If you’re like me, you probably react more to your spouse’s tone of voice than to what they’re actually saying, so don’t let their tone of voice make you defensive. Instead, use it to better understand your spouse’s emotions. This works both ways. Your tone of voice can have a powerful impact on your spouse. Your tone of voice can make them mad, or soften their heart, so be wise in how you use your tone of voice emoji.
  • Facial Expressions. – Some spouses have a really good poker face. You could tell them their jeans really do make them look fat or that they’re just moderately adequate in bed, and they will give you the same blank expression as if they were watching the latest episode of the paint drying channel. But for most spouses (myself included), we don’t have good poker faces. Like an emoji, we tend to show what we’re thinking and feeling right there on our face. It could be something as blatant as rolling our eyes, or something as subtle as lowering our eyes. It could be a face that brightens up or a face that clouds over. Your spouse’s facial expressions…and especially their eyes…are a window into their soul, so don’t ignore this emoji.
  • Vocal Sounds. – It’s funny how simple sounds can speak volumes about what a spouse is thinking and feeling. A heavy sigh as they carry the third load of dirty laundry past you…as you’re stretched out in your easy chair. The sound of them taking a deep breath right after you tell them your parents are coming. Every “grrrr,” “grunt”, and “humph” is an emoji describing what’s going on with your spouse.
  • Behaviors. – Along with tone of voice, this is one of the most recognized emojis in marriage. Behavior emojis come in many varieties. Turning away when you’re talking to them. A door aggressively closed (slammed) after you have explained why your way is the only logical option. A slight straightening or slumping of posture when you come into the room. A touch that suggest they’re interested in something more. A head shake and a steely stare after you’ve told them your great idea. Cooking your favorite meal. Cooking your least favoite meal. Spending less time in conversation, or even in the same room, with you. These are all emojis that communicate volumes.

Now that we’ve talked about the emojis to which you need to pay attention, now let’s see how they work in real life. How would you read the emojis in the two examples  below. Share these examples with your spouse and see if they read things the same way:

  • You’re siting at a restaraunt and you notice a couple over in the corner. The man is exuberantly talking about something while the woman has her head down and is picking at her food. As the conversation/monologue continues, the man becomes more animated and insistent while the woman turns to look at the people coming into the restaraunt. How would you read these emojis?
  • Your spouse goes to the fridge to find something to prepare for dinner. After standing in front of the fridge for an extended period of time, they sigh loudly, close the fridge door solidly, and say in a punctuated tone, “There’s nothing in this house to eat!” How would you read these emojis?

All this may sound complicated, but it’s really not. If you’ve been married for more than a year, you’re familiar with the emojis your spouse sends. In fact, you’re more familiar with their subtle (and not so subtle) communication clues than anyone else. The question is, are you still paying attention to these emojis.

This week, try an experiment. Watch your spouse and see how many emojis you can spot. You might be surprised at how good you are at this.

Copyright © 2016 Bret Legg

2 thoughts on “What If Your Spouse Came With Emojis?”

  1. I love this post and the creative way you’ve challenged us to tune in to nonverbal cues. This should be required reading for couples, parents, and people with coworkers — basically all non-hermits.


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