The Eye Roll in Marriage

See If It's a Sign of Problems in Your Marriage

Eye Roll
Photo: Jupiterimages, Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

You've seen it. The eye roll is often accompanied by a big sigh. If you are like most folks, seeing the eye roll makes you angry, defensive or both. Eye rolling can have negative consequences in a committed relationship, such as a marriage, when it is misunderstood, continuous or perceived in a hostile or otherwise condescending way. Learn what emotional problems may arise with eye rolling and the steps that you can take in order to find a resolution for your relationship or marriage.

The Eye Roll As a Form of Communication

The upward eye roll is an optical nonverbal communication maneuver that usually is perceived as a negative response to something that was said. Frequent eye-rolling could be a clue that there are problems in your marriage or relationship with your spouse. The eye roll, like hurtful jokes, sarcasm, denial, stonewalling and blame, is a form of provocative communication. The eye roll can be a way to communicate in a disagreement with what is being said, be a display of dislike for how something is being said or may simply be a way to vent frustration or exasperation.

Perceptions of Eye Rolling

Eye rolling may not be perceived positively, and may even be thought of as a display of contempt for your beliefs, an insult or as condescending sarcasm. These negative perceptions may disrupt your relationship as one or both parties may feel put down or scorned. Because eye rolling can be seen as a form of disrespect, it is imperative to discuss body language in a relationship and discuss what your actions will mean in consideration for each other.

If eye rolling is not discussed, a dismissive attitude and passive aggressive behavior may emerge, erupting into a superiority complex or lack of caring, benefitting no one in the end.

The Consequences for Your Marriage

Hostility in your relationship may intensify and trust can diminish if communication is not resolved.

Continuous eye rolling and other forms of negative body language can create power struggles, bring about withdrawal and encourage a defensive reaction.

To get rid of hurt communication and the sense of intimidation, face these issues head on and discuss in a peaceful manner. If necessary, include a mediator, counselor or professional guidance to help talk about these problems respectfully before they destroy your marriage.

Finding a Resolution

  • State that your perception of your spouse's nonverbal language is sending you signals that there is a problem with what you have said or done.
  • Ask for clarification for what eye rolling means when your spouse performs this action and if there are multiple reasons why this happening.
  • Express how the eye roll makes you both feel in the relationship, and come to a place where feelings are acknowledged and understood.
  • Talk with each other about what triggers the eye roll in the first place. It is important to have this conversation when neither of you is angry.