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10 Brutally Honest Things Everyone Should Know Before Getting Married

10 Brutally Honest Things Everyone Should Know Before Getting Married

Marriage is a wonderful thing and everyone knows a real marriage needs work, compassion and compromise to be successful. However, with divorce rates at a record high, how much do we really know when entering into married life?

Without fully knowing what married life entails and the reality that we are faced with once the wedding is over and life carries on, we are often left to face any difficulties without the full knowledge of how marriage affects us and can lead to self-blame and ultimately the break up of the marriage if things don’t quite go according to how we envisioned them to be.

If you’ve just entered into married life or you are just about to, here are 10 honest secrets about marriage that you should know.

1. That First Flush of Love Won’t Always Last

A pretty obvious one that you may have heard countless times. But how many people give up on marriage because they feel the spark has disappeared? It’s often hard to imagine that love you feel for someone will ever go away but sometimes you have to fall out of love to find out what the real meaning of love is which isn’t necessarily infatuation and a Hollywood happily ever after.

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Be prepared to reach a stage that feels a lot different to the beginning and know that it doesn’t mean your marriage has failed.

2. Love Grows In Different Ways

With that in mind, we need to understand that love grows in different ways and can come in many forms. You don’t need to be infatuated with someone to be in love with them or have a successful marriage.

Real love takes time and effort and needs a lot of cultivation to allow it to flourish. People often believe they are either in love or they’re not, dismissing any of the stages in-between. Let the marriage take its own course and don’t over-analyse bad patches or wonder whether you love your partner enough when things may start to change.

3. The Attraction Won’t Always Be There

Make peace with the fact that you may not always be attracted to your partner. Physical attraction is important in our image-conscious society and often if we don’t find someone attractive then it can’t work out. In a marriage this can bring phases of doubt about whether this means we don’t love them anymore.

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Attraction levels can change in long or even short periods of time so don’t panic and question your relationship whenever this comes up.

4. You’ll Need To Show Love Even When You Don’t Want To

Things aren’t always going to go smoothly – that we all expect. However, it’s easy to revert to almost childish ways when our partner is perceived as being difficult or hurtful in some way. When we’re in those sorts of situations, our feelings of love can wane and we are reluctant to show it but for a marriage to survive long-term we need to swallow our pride and still show acts of love even when we don’t want to. So make them that cup of tea after an argument or still do the errand they asked you to do.

Small acts of pettiness can cause all sorts of resentments both with yourself and the other person which only etches away at your unit. Always remember you’re a team.

5. Married Life Is A Journey

Once you’re married you may feel like you’ve achieved the ultimate goal but marriage is challenging and there to help you grow and flourish, not just as two people but for yourself.

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There will be tough times that will be designed to trigger every negative and positive emotion you have within you but those emotions are there to build you up, not knock you down. Done right, you can reap the rewards marriage has to offer and can teach you countless ways to grow as a person.

There may be times when you take every ounce of you not to walk out of the door and give up. But there’s so much we can learn from going right to the edge and bringing ourselves back.

6. Just Because A Marriage Needs Work Doesn’t Mean It’s Doomed

If you grew up with parents who had a loving marriage then you are more likely to carry those expectations into your own marriage but be prepared that not all marriages are the same. If you compare your marriage to others it will only cause stress and disappointment if yours doesn’t match up – but this doesn’t mean your marriage is any less or is failing.

More often than not, other people’s marriages may look perfect from the outside but very rarely are. Try to keep this in mind when it comes a time that you feel your marriage needs work.

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7. Having Children Will Cause Stress On The Marriage

We all know having children is a wonderful yet difficult period in a marriage. It will put a strain on even the best of marriages so it’s important to expect this and act accordingly. Make sure you nurture and find time for the marriage outside of having children to remind yourself why marriage was important to you in the first place. Ignoring the marriage is very easy to do when a child is taking up your time and effort so counteract this by making extra effort to spend time together.

8. Physical Love Needs To Be About Connection For It To Last

It’s really important to remember that your sex life is a vital way to show love and appreciation to one another. It’s about learning to give and receive in a loving and connected way and not a way to gain power, security or validation. If connection is the core basis, then sex is less likely to wane throughout the marriage but it’s also something that will change over time and that’s okay. Remember to be honest and open about anything.

9. Successful Married Life Can’t Survive Without Communication

True and honest communication is key to a successful marriage. Secrets and pent-up emotions will only cause destruction in the end. Learning how to put your feelings and emotions to your partner in a constructive and non-blaming way will not only unburden you and make you happier but will eliminate stresses in the marriage and keep it open and honest. This doesn’t always come easy and naturally so be prepared to work on it which may mean doing some work on yourself.

10. Never Believe Marriage Will Make You Happy

The most important point is our belief that being married will somehow complete us. We can put a lot of pressure on married life being the key to our happiness when it should only be looked at as an added bonus to our own already-established happiness. Nothing outside of us can make us happy, it has to come from within.

Marriage can become problematic when we get married and realise it hasn’t made us any happier in the long run and can often lead to marriages being a disappointment and eventually break up. Make sure you are truly happy and release the pressure put on marriage to bring happiness to you.

Featured photo credit: freestocks.org via pexels.com

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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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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