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12 Invaluable Lessons Married People Want The Unmarried To Know

12 Invaluable Lessons Married People Want The Unmarried To Know

During my wedding shower, my brides-maids set up an advice jar for me to keep handy after my fiance and I were married. There were tons of pieces of advice, some were funny (like always keep beer in the fridge) and some were more serious, given in the hopes of helping our marriage survive. Now that I’m married, I find myself sharing these same words, and my own lessons that I’ve learned, with friends and family who are engaged, hoping to help share advice that can help their marriages be strong. In a world where divorce is unfortunately all too common, advice from people who are married is never anything to roll your eyes about, it could just help save a marriage.

So here are 12 things married people want the world to know:

1. Never stop dating your spouse

A few months after my husband and I married, I surprised him by sending flirty and funny texts, and asked him out on a date. We spent the whole night pretending to be on our first date and at the end it made us feel rejuvenated and more connected. This lessons is as old as time but it’s always completely true. Once you stop dating your spouse, some of the magic fades away. Keep taking each other on dates, either planned or spontaneous, and it will help keep the romance alive!

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2. Some fights aren’t worth it

It drives me crazy when his shavings are left on the bathroom sink. I used to get on his case about it constantly until I realized, it took more time and energy to fight with him about it, than it did for me to take a tissue and wipe it up quickly. Sometimes you are going to feel completely annoyed at something your spouse said or did and you’re going to want to explode. But before you do, think about if it’s worth the fight. Sometimes, it is better for both of you to take a deep breath and consider if the silly annoyance is really worth the fight.

3. But if you don’t talk at all the problem will never go away

My husband can tend to be a workaholic, and it can really create some tensions between us when I’m expecting him home or when his work interrupts our weekends. In a marriage, there will be silly problems that aren’t worth the fight, but there will also be problems that need to be talked out. When I voiced my concerns about work coming in-between us, my husband was willing to work with me in setting up some work boundaries – such as no calls during dinner. But if we hadn’t communicated, then the problem would have persisted until it became too big for us to handle.

4. Take turns doing chores

Because I’m the better cook, I used to do all the cooking. And because I can’t stand picking up dog poop (iew) my husband always used to be in charge of that. We thought it made sense to split up the household work that way. But what it actually did was cause us to get frustrated with each other, secretly wondering why we had to keep doing the same thing all the time and our spouse wasn’t helping. I still mostly do the cooking and he mostly pick up after the dogs, but we’re more willing to take turns, and share the marriage responsibilities so that neither of us becomes frustrated with the tasks.

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5. Use please and thank you

One time, after we were married, I asked my husband to do something quickly. I thought I said please, he insisted he didn’t hear my say it, so he felt as though I was commanding him to do something while I thought I was asking. We don’t know who was actually right, but his frustration turned into a fight and we realized how important it is, especially after you are married to continue to use manners with each other. You never want to make your spouse feel as though they are being taken for granted or unappreciated. Using manners ensures that they know you are thankful for what they do for you.

6. There is no greater feeling than sharing a bed with your spouse

One of my absolute favorite moments of the day is that moment when I wake up before the craziness of the day begins, I lie in bed and think of how lucky I am to be married to such a wonderful man. Starting your day and finishing your day with your favorite person is a luxury in life that is not to be taken for granted. Unfortunately, you never truly know how long you have on this earth together, so savor the realization that every day begins and ends with the one you love.

7. Sometimes you don’t like your spouse

Once when I was watching an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, character Marie Barone gave some of the best marriage advice I’ve ever heard, and I’ve believed it fully ever since she said it. “There’s going to be hate. Hate is real. Marriage is real. We might fight, but…we’re okay with each other. And do you know why? We’ve endured.” Married life is real, every emotion you feel is real. You’ll love each other more than you could ever know is possible, and you’ll hate each other sometimes too. But you work through all the positives and negatives together and together, through all of the emotions, you will endure.

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8. Continue to make yourself attractive

I had to have surgery a few short months before my wedding, and unfortunately again less than a year after I was married. In the meantime, working out was very difficult and I was able to do very little. As a previous dancer, working out is very important to me and keeping my body toned made me feel healthy and attractive. Losing that ability took a very large toll on how I viewed myself and how I thought my husband viewed me as well. I worried about him finding someone else who was more attractive. I learned that “letting myself go” just because I’m married simply isn’t an option. Working out and dolling myself up once in a while gives me more confidence and I feel sexy. While my husband has always found me attractive, confidence IS sexy and my husband sees that in me too.

9. Keep the intimacy alive

I’ve found that it is natural, after time, to have those burning fires of love cool. What used to be a “Netflix and chill” kind of night slowly turns into actually watching Netflix and eating ice cream. While this is a beautiful part of being married, it can also be a little dangerous. You need to make sure that those fires of love keep burning by stealing kisses, lighting candles, and making an effort to turn off the Netflix and head to the bedroom! If the intimacy falls away, either one of you may be tempted to go find it somewhere else.

10. Let them do their own thing

I love spending as much time as I can with my husband. Weekends are the best days for my because I get a whole two days of quality husband time, even if it is just running errands. But you need to make room for your spouse to do their own thing and for you to do yours. As much as I love spending time with my husband, I also enjoy reading and writing and love taking time for myself to do that. He loves playing his guitar and watching Sunday football, and I wouldn’t want to take that away from him. He needs his space just like I need mine. Just because we are married doesn’t mean we have to have all the same hobbies or likes. Give each other space to be who you are and it will make everything more interesting!

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11. Don’t forget why you married them

Every day when I’m talking to my husband, I’m reminded of what a great person and husband he is and I smile as I think about all the amazing reasons why I married him. I do this especially on my hardest days. In the hustle and bustle of life, spouses sometimes forget why they married each other in the first place. Don’t! It’s so important when things get crazy, to keep in mind all of the great qualities you married your spouse for. If you keep these things in mind, you can keep your relationship strong with the knowledge of all the things you love about your spouse.

12. Your spouse will be your everything

As soon as my engagement ring was placed on my finger, I knew that not only did our relationship status change, but his place in my life had changed. I knew he’d be my best friend, my number one cheerleader, my adviser, and my business partner. In every aspect of my life he was going to be there to be my partner and help me make major life decisions. Your spouse isn’t just your spouse, they become your everything.

Being married comes with many lessons of life and relationships. No matter how long you’re married, you continue learning. There will be mistakes, celebrations, hard times, and pure joy. But being married isn’t an ending where you live happily ever after, it’s a never ending journey that you take together.

Featured photo credit: mariadelajuana via flickr.com

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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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