1. Talk about the behavior at a time when it is not apparent and you are feeling close to your partner. Tell them how this behavior makes you feel and stick to “I statements.” An example is, “I know you love me, but when your roll your eyes after I say something, I feel like you are slapping me.”
2. If you are the eye roller, come up with a new behavior that won’t offend your spouse. Sometimes taking a deep breath and looking away can do the trick. Make a note when you are successful and ask for feedback from your partner. It will help if your partner notices it and compliments you on this effort.
3. Be more open with how you feel verbally. If you are angry or feel taken advantage of, use your words instead of your eyes. Eye rolling develops because people are afraid to say what they think, due to the possibility they will be rejected.
4. The emotion behind eye rolling is usually anger, disdain or contempt. When you see it, make note of it and ask your partner what they are feeling right now. Better to get it on the table than shut down and ignore it, especially if all that contempt is directed toward you.
We all communicate with our eyes, our mouths and our bodies. Just as we show incredible love through our gestures, we can cut someone deeply with gestures. Eye rolling is one of those gestures that can cut to the core. Replacing it with a more loving response may begin to heal your marriage in a way that years of couples’ therapy could not. –Mary Jo Rapini
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