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11 Secrets Couples with a Lifelong Marriage Want to Tell You

11 Secrets Couples with a Lifelong Marriage Want to Tell You

You’ve seen that adorable elderly couple sitting on a park bench or taking a stroll around the park. They’re always holding hands and they look so comfortable with each other, like they’ve spent their entire life in synchronization. If you could interview that couple, there are probably a few major things you could learn about cultivating a successful relationship.

The American Psychological Association estimates that between 40 and 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. That number is a 40 percent increase from 40 years ago, and it’s not looking any better for the future.

Divorce is sometimes the best option for everyone involved, but other times, it could have been prevented if there had been some great role models to turn to in time of need. The reality is that you could be sabotaging your relationship without even realizing it! If you could spy on a couple that has a successful, lifelong marriage, here are a few things you’d notice they do.

1. They tell each other what they’re thinking

How many of your arguments come as a result of poor communication? Contrary to popular belief, being “one” in marriage doesn’t mean that you have the same thoughts. Even those who’ve been married for 50 years can’t tell what their spouse is thinking all the time. That’s why it’s so important to tell your spouse what you’re thinking, without making them guess.

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2. They continue to date each other

If you look back at the days before you were married and compare them to now, you’ll probably notice a significant difference in the attention your spouse pays to you. That’s probably because before you were married, you went on real dates.

Dates are the best place for you to really bond as a couple. You can revert to the days where you were trying to impress one another and make each other happy while getting away from the stress of life, kids, and work.

3. They have children

These married couples will likely tell you that having children was one of the most difficult things they’ve done. They’ll also tell you it’s one of the most rewarding. Children define a new kind of intimacy among parents. Creating a child, finding out you’re pregnant, being a part of the birthing experience, teaching your child to ride a bike, and more are all a part of an amazing experience that helps your entire family grow closer together.

4. They argue with a purpose rather than for the sake of arguing

There are probably a few things that you and your spouse argue about over and over. For example, he leaves his muddy shoes on the carpet, while she parks the car crooked. The list could go on and on. Instead of yelling and complaining without any kind of resolution, argue with the intent of finding a solution.

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Constructive arguing involves asking questions, understanding your spouse’s feelings, and presenting some kind of solution. These arguments end with an action. Try and plan to correct the problem, so that the topic doesn’t come up again in the same negative light.

5. They don’t complain unless they have a solution

“You always leave the butter sitting on the counter.” “You never help me get the kids ready for school.” “You never remember parent teacher conference.” Sound familiar? Those in lasting relationships recognize that constant complaining gets you nowhere. All it does is heighten your anger and increase the likelihood of an argument. It’s okay to vent – just make sure you have a solution for what’s frustrating you before bringing it up.

6. They express gratitude

The best way to avoid complaining is to look for things to be grateful for in your spouse. You could even try documenting these things in a gratitude journal. It might take a little pondering at first, but you’ll soon find that there are many things to be grateful for. Your gratitude can go as deep as, “I’m grateful that my husband never gives up.” Or it could be as lighthearted and simple as, “I’m grateful that my wife picked me up from work today.”

You can also try and take the time to express gratitude for your spouse verbally. Studies show that those who make sure their spouse feels more appreciated have significantly greater feelings of love and contentment than those who go days at a time without saying thank you.

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7. They recognize that their marriage comes first

Any lifelong couple will tell you that your spouse should come before anything else, even a deadline at work, and especially a night out with friends. When you prioritize your marriage, you cultivate an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, which is an invaluable quality in any marriage.

8. They prioritize pillow talk

It’s easy to go to bed at separate times, especially when you have different interests and responsibilities to attend to. But couples who have been married for years recognize the value of pillow talk. They make it a priority to go to bed at the same time, even if it means going to bed later or earlier than you like. The time alone with your spouse in such an intimate setting will be priceless for relieving stress, talking about kids and work, and discussing hopes and dreams. These night-time chats really help develop your relationship – in every sense of the word.

9. They nurture common interests

Most couples don’t have nearly as much in common as they thought they did when they were dating. She might suddenly lose interest in ESPN, and he might suddenly decide he doesn’t like star gazing after all. But there will be some things that every couple still has in common. Successful marriages find the few things they have in common and cultivate a strong relationship through their common interests.

10. They use trust and forgiveness daily

Happy couples rely on trust and forgiveness. These essential qualities silence arguments and revitalize feelings of love and contentment. This is founded on unconditional love and an understanding that we all make mistakes. It is important to note; however, that this is a communal deal. There is a fine line between being trusting and forgiving, and getting hurt. Couples that are willing to mutually learn to trust and forgive each other are the ones that will survive.

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11. They hug each other

Physical intimacy has more pull in a relationship than many people give it credit for. Full body hugs are one of the best ways to feel closer to your partner and release stress. This fact is even backed by science. Hugging releases a hormone called oxytocin, which is nicknamed the “love hormone” because of the feelings it can evoke. So if you’re looking for a way to create greater feelings of love between you and your spouse, give each other a nice, tight hug before you leave for work and as soon as you get home.

Featured photo credit: artisticfilms via pixabay.com

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Larry Alton

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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