My husband's newly discovered fondness for text messaging got me thinking about forms of communication. Since good communication is vital to a healthy marriage, I wondered how this non-real-time electronic correspondence would affect one of the most powerful means of messaging a woman has--her face.
Researchers of non-verbal communication report that of the thousands of configurations facial muscles are capable of, over three-thousand combinations are understood in every culture. One study claims that 55% of effective communication is done through non-verbal expression.
But then, any woman could have told them that. Being able to convey innumerable messages by an imperceptible adjustment of her eyes is a skill learned at an early age, as my five-year-old granddaughter informed me. She was telling me about her friends at school and mentioned one boy in particular. I asked her what it was about him she liked.
"He knows my face," she said. "He knows when I don't want to be bothered, but I let him anyway."
Although I suspect women are better at sending messages and interpreting facial codes than men, this is a valuable skill for any relationship. When my husband was in the pastorate, he was often tempted (gregarious man that he is) to use examples from our marriage. Usually, I could sit in the front pew with an angelic look pasted to my face and let him know in a timeless second he better switch gears in his story.
One time, however, we were doing a home group on marriage with several other couples. Hoping his transparency would set the tone for the meetings, Bob closed in a prayer that went something like this: "Lord, I pray for more passion in our marriage."
He knows my face. In a nanosecond, as every bowed head raised, I sent a message: "You are going to see some passion as soon as everyone leaves!"
But as it is, Someone Else knows my face as well. In that instance, He deflected the barb of my arrow and redeemed both the situation and my husband. That year for a pastor appreciation gift, the church gave us a weekend at a romantic inn.
My husband is out of town today. He sent me an electronic greeting and a happy face. I sent him back a text ending with the word kiss. Weak substitute that it is, it will have to do until we see face to face.