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Do People Who Have More Relationship Experience Have Happier Marriage?

Do People Who Have More Relationship Experience Have Happier Marriage?

While many may believe that a past with many different partners increases the chance of happiness due to an acknowledgement of problem areas, it actually makes enjoying the marriage all the more difficult due to constant comparisons, fear of rejection, and being unable to ever fully commit to the person you’ve said vows to. According to studies, people who have more relationship experience in life are less likely to have a happy marriage.

“Couples who invite a lot of family and friends to their nuptials tend to have happier marriages than those who don’t,” said a study from the University of Virginia. Here, they tracked 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 who were not married at the time, and followed them for five years. By noting those got married, they found a range of results.

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Here are the findings from two studies that discuss the phenomena:

More Sexual Partners Means More Negativity

study from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia titled Before ‘I Do’: What Do Premarital Experiences Have to Do with Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults highlights how premarital experiences can affect your happiness in marriage. One finding was that those who have had more sexual partners are likely to have more negativity in their relationship; are they fixated on a casual or recreational state of mind?

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That Rebellious Attitude

This Fox News report followed this message, stating that more previous partners equal a higher chance of divorce. Much of the discussion circled around attitude, with the experienced section of society quicker to end things and move on to seek greener pastures rather than sorting out issues. There is also the point of family; having regular sexual partners or an increased number of relationships lessens the need to link with your significant other’s family as they aren’t viewed as a necessary part of the bond. And we all know this is wrong.

Constant Fear of Life Repeating Itself

Comparing a husband to past boyfriends (or a wife to past girlfriends) means there will be triggers. If there is a similar conversation that led to an earlier break-up, misery begins. Ignorance is bliss, and if you don’t have that prior negative relationship to dwell on, there is less chance of directly thinking of negativity. Everyone fights, especially married couples. Not every relationship will end.

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‘You’re Just Like Him!’

An argument containing these words hurts both parties. It makes the person with less experience think about you with another partner, and it makes you think back to when someone did some significant inner damage that hasn’t repaired. Arguments in marriage are where the differing experience levels clash, and having more knowledge in battle doesn’t always result in victory.

Coping Mechanisms, The Chameleon of The Marriage

While it can be viewed as a generalization, a person that has had many sexual partners often attaches less meaning to the act and can use it as a coping mechanism. This invokes cheating, and even though marriage is meant to cancel the opportunities with others, a tough period can call upon old habits. They die hard, so the saying goes. The husband/wife with less experience wouldn’t be able to slip into that persona in the same way, hence ending the marriage and any happiness.

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Never Discovering That Level of Adult Responsibility

High levels of past relationships can equate to selfishness. Selfishness waves goodbye to responsibility. In a marriage, this can range from chores, to pets, to finances, to children. Many people will grow out of this phase and enter marriage with the mindset of becoming a fully fledged adult, but see coping mechanisms for that great old saying. The study from Virginia stated:

“Couples who “slide” rather than “decide” their way through life-changing transitions like having sex, living together and becoming pregnant are less likely to report high-quality marriages.”

And Finally…the old slip of the tongue

A person in a marriage will unfortunately blurt out details of past flames, whether they mean to or not. Memories are the mementos we carry around in our head, be they of good or bad times. The more experience, the more memories. It can be hard to completely trust others, or yourself, again.

So while there is often a claim that you can’t beat experience, in a marriage, there are few worse things than a head full of the past. Each to their own, but studies show that people who have more relationship experience generally have less happiness once the wedding bells clear.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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