Relationship Skills

Family Resources on Body Language and Tone in a Romantic Relationship

Project and Purpose

After hearing several youth tell stories about their relationships, students will participate in a thoughtful discussion about how to resolve conflict in a romantic relationship.

Essential Questions

Why is understanding body language and tone important in communication in a relationship?

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students reviewed the activities from the “Body Language and Tone” lesson and applied non-verbal communication to a marriage or long-term intimate relationship. In class students discussed previous lessons about non-verbal communication among intimate partners. In groups students compared how voice tone and body language can convey different messages and how body language and tone can promote healthy relational interactions (or diminish healthy relational interactions).

*There is another CWK print lesson titled “Body Language and Tone” that students will have completed before participating in this lesson. It is recommended to review “Body Language and Tone” to provide context before having a discussion on “Body Language and Tone in a Romantic Relationship.”

Getting Ready for the Conversation

Body language and voice tone is important to healthy communication, but is not always taught in the context of marriage or long-term intimate relationships. This lesson helps students understand that body language and voice tone is especially important as a person develops long-term intimate relationships.

Conversation notes:
It may be difficult for parents or adult mentors to discuss intimate relationships with adolescents, but effective communication in intimate relationships is an essential skill to develop and maintain healthy relationships.

Article about communication in a marriage by Steven Rowe at Psych Central:

An insightful article by Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks on body language of presidents and their spouses during interviews:

Constructive Conversation Starters

The first item is for follow-up after participating in class activities.

In class students made comments with the same words but different voice-tones and body language. How did different voice-tone affect the context of the speaker? Describe why it is important to consider your voice-tone and body language when speaking to a partner in an intimate (or romantic) relationship.

What are some strategies you can use to make sure that your voice-tone or body language does not convey the wrong message when talking with an intimate or romantic partner? Why are your ideas useful?

How well do you convey the correct message with voice tone and body language when speaking generally? What could you learn from your current skills about communicating in an intimate or romantic relationship? Why is it important to be able to assess and improve your
communication skills?

School to Home Resources on Body Language and Tone in a Romantic Relationship


  • Review any notes from previous Body Language and Tone session. This session is intended for use with students who have already participated previously in Body Language and Tone.
  • Copies of The Guardian article, “Actions speak louder…” by Hilary Freeman
  • Pass the Word Cards from the previous Body Language and Tone session (you may replace with a set of cards that have emojis on them if you have a set and prefer to use them).


Review and restate session norms. These should remind students how to interact and communicate respectfully. Essential question should be prominently displayed.
[1-2 minutes]

Activity 1

  • Review the discussion from the previous Body Language and Tone session. If you are using the Pass the word cards, have some students do the activity paying attention to how tone can change the meaning of the same word.
  • If you brought emoji cards, have one student show another the emoji and describe the emotion. Then, ask other students if they agree on the emotion being conveyed. Briefly discuss with students that facial expressions can communicate a great deal.
  • If time permits you might to do both.

[5-10 minutes]

Activity 2

  • Review the Guardian article with students. Ask some reflection questions such as: “The last time we looked at this article we talked about body language in the context of a job interview, are there any parts of the article that would be useful in marriage communication that you can find in the article?”
  • Let students review the text and highlight or write down any sentences or phrases that would apply to communication between a married couple.
  • Have students share out their thoughts or comments

[5-10 minutes]

Activity 3

  • Using your knowledge of the students, split students in to small groups of 2, 3 or 4. Ask students to come up with everyday interactions that could occur between two people who are married, then ask students to write a one or two sentence interaction. Examples could include asking for help with cooking dinner or doing a household chore. Students will then practice saying the sentences they wrote using two different tones of voice to convey two different emotions.
  • It is important to monitor students so that they choose class appropriate interactions, not sexual or other inappropriate ideas. With students who might not take the activity seriously, the facilitator may wish to come up with interactions ahead of time to assign to groups.
  • After working on these a few minutes, one student from each group will demonstrate the sentences using the same words but conveying two different tones. Have students who are speaking face the entire rather doing a role play with two students. The goal if for all students to assess what is communicated by using different tones of voice. If you have two students doing a role play, other observing students may focus on the two students interacting rather than how and what emotions are being communicated by the student speaking.

[10-20 minutes]


Debriefing questions.

  • “Is it possible that one’s tone of voice may communicate the wrong thing to another person, even if they are married?
  • What are some things a person could do to make sure that they convey the correct meaning when they say something to a married partner?
  • “If you were married and your partner said something in a tone of voice that makes you angry (or other negative emotion) what would be a good choice for you to make?
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