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6 Good Predictors of Marital Happiness

6 Good Predictors of Marital Happiness

As much as we all want a long lasting marriage, not all relationships today come with a lifetime guarantee. Anyone who has been in a couple of failed relationships will agree that finding an “ideal partner” can be a long and painful process, far from our unrealistic expectations fed by romantic movies and TV shows.

The truth is: not everyone can be perfect all of the time. We all have flaws and weaknesses. We are going to disappoint our partners at some time or another. But the real question here is how much do you love the person to keep the relationship going? How do you know if they’re the person who’s going to make you happy for all of your life?

According to Dr. John Gottman, author of the book The Seven Principles of Making a Marriage Work, creating a lasting marriage is surprisingly simple. Gottman says, “Happily married couples aren’t smarter, richer, or more psychologically astute than others. But in their day-to-day lives, they have hit upon a dynamic that keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other from overwhelming their positive ones.” This is what makes most marriages last and what separates happily married couples from the multitude of couples who stay married just for their kid’s sake.

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So, what are the actions and values in a couple that are good predictors of marital happiness? Read on to find out.

1. How You Show Gratitude

Are you someone who can easily say “thank you” to your spouse? Does your spouse do the little things that matter, like opening the door or buying you flowers? How frequently you express gratitude can have a powerful impact on your relationship.

According to a recent study published in the journal Personal Relationships, the secret to having a better marriage is to show gratitude. Research conducted at University of Georgia used a telephone survey where 468 married couples were asked about their communication, finances, and how they express gratitude with their spouses. The study’s result emphasizes how spousal gratitude is the most consistent predictor of marital quality. Couples who express gratitude more often were less affected by common marital stressors such as miscommunication, financial issues, and in-law problems.

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2. Your Ability to Compromise and Admit Mistakes

In any relationship, there is bound to be fights and misunderstandings. The couple who knows how to apologize always has the best chances of keeping their marriage intact. Admitting mistakes is not a sign of loss; in fact, the ability to compromise for the other is a proof of love.

According to Bill Farr, author of The Power of Personality Types in Love and Relationships, a couple’s ability to compromise and give up their pride defines their relationship. If both partners are able to see that they’re not always right and become more accepting of each other’s mistakes, their marriage will prosper. Sure, romance and passion create memorable moments, but it is always compromise and respect that actually keeps the two of you together.

3. The Tone of Your Voice

The phrase, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it” might seem cliché when we talk about marital issues, but when it comes to communication, the tone of your voice holds as much weight as the words you use when addressing your partner in an argument or a discussion. Experts believe that how you talk and discuss problems with your partner has important implications on the health of your relationship. Because it’s not just what words you use to converse problems with your partner that counts, how you deliver them is also important.

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This underlying notion has helped a group of researchers create a new computer algorithm that can predict an outcome of marriage based only on the tone of voice couples use when speaking to each other. The algorithm has a remarkable 79% accuracy and did a better job predicting marital success compared to relationship experts. The algorithm can assess the couple’s speech by breaking the recordings into acoustic features and using speech processing techniques, such as looking at the pitch intensity and warbles in voice that could indicate emotions.

4. How You Spend Leisure Time

Couples who often spend leisure time with each other have the best relationships. If you’re someone who’s happiest when with your partner, that is a good sign of marital happiness.

In a study involving 250 married couples, results found that the best predictor of marital satisfaction was the amount of time spent alone with the spouse. Wives who spend most of their time with their husbands were the happiest. Happier couples are people who are determined to spend time together despite their varying interests in hobbies or constraints like kids and work. Sometimes it’s just not the amount of time you spend together, but also the quality.

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5. How You Give Your Attention

How long do you need to get your spouse’s attention when you call them? If most of the time they respond back to you immediately, it’s a good sign. If; however, they always seem uninterested and require you to repeat or say something incredible just to make them interested – watch out! A partner who doesn’t value and give attention to their spouse can cause the marriage to wane and go down the drain.

As Tony Robbins says, “Relationships magnify the experience of life.” If we don’t take part and give value to our relationships, we might lose important life experiences that could give way to a happier and more fulfilling marriage. Couples who have real connection don’t have to bid for each other’s attention. They have overflowing amounts of it to give each other with no hesitance or waiting for the other to respond.

6. Your Acceptance

In the first stage of couple relationships, most of us (if not all) see our partners in their best light. We are always love-struck, filled with romance and lust. However, as years go by, you will see their imperfections. All those throes of passion will diminish by time, as our object of romantic focus will fail to keep up with our expectations.

Then again, a happy marriage is not about being wed to the perfect guy or girl – it is to be wed with a person whose weaknesses you accept and see beyond. A happy marriage is about expecting nothing but love in return. When we learn to accept ourselves, it’s too easy to accept our spouses as well. Loving then becomes effortless because it stems from within you.

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Armela Escalona

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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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