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Secret To A Long-Lasting Marriage: Put Your Personal Happiness Aside

Secret To A Long-Lasting Marriage: Put Your Personal Happiness Aside

“If both of you are putting each other first then no one comes second.”

–Author Unknown

By: Pedro Ribeiro Simões
    Photo Credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões on Flickr

    Shortly after meeting my (now) husband and we began dating, he was called away to participate in a week long training exercise at Camp Lejeune. He was in the Navy at the time and the training was a part of his job. Before he left, he stopped by my apartment to say his good byes. He said the usual–I’m going to miss you and I’ll see you as soon as I get back–or something to that effect.

    And then, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the keys to his car and his bank card. He gave me the pin number to his account and told me to spend whatever I needed for gas and any other shopping I wanted to do. I was stunned. I weakly tried to protest but he just kissed me on the forehead, said good bye and strolled out the door.

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    When he returned from training, he didn’t even go home. He had his friend drop him off at my place as we were so eager to see each other. When I greeted him at the door he scooped me up in his arms and held me in a long embrace. We made dinner plans and I gave him back the keys to his car and his bank card…

    Years later, while reminiscing about how we first met, I asked my husband when he knew for sure that he was in love with me. He said when he returned home from his trip to Camp Lejeune and saw his car and checked his account. “When I saw that you had completely detailed my car and had added money to my account–I knew you were the one. You returned everything to me in better shape than I left it.”

    We were married one month after that trip.

    How to make a marriage work

    When moving forward in your marriage you will face challenges and obstacles. It is inevitable. There are so many prevailing theories, teachings and schools of thought on how to make a marriage work. The reality is there is no one single recipe leading to marital bliss. You have to take a few very basic and fundamental principles and tailor them to meet the needs of you and your spouse.

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    The most critical of these basic principles is: Put your Spouse First

    “If both of you are putting each other first then no one comes second.”

    This quote goes against every selfish instinct that we as human beings have. Ego-centrism comes naturally. We all tend to focus on ourselves and our own selfish needs. However, the very essence of marriage and relationships center around the fact that it is no longer about you as an individual but about the marital unit. The goal in marriage and relationships should be to move from being selfish to selfless.

    It’s incredibly difficult to put someone’s wants, needs, hopes, dreams and happiness ahead of your own.

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    Granted, this is easier to do when we’re blinded by passion  — as tends to happen during the “honeymoon period.” But doing it on an everyday basis isn’t easy. And that’s what love should be. It should be making the love of your life a top priority — day in and day out.

    When two people in a relationship care more for each other than they do for themselves–they are on their way to finding true happiness. True happiness–I mean the deep down feeling of contentment, solitude and peace–comes from making others happy.

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      What does selflessness in a marriage look like?

      Let’s be clear… Putting your spouse first, in no way means totally neglecting yourself and becoming a blind puppet. Sometimes to ensure the ultimate happiness of your spouse gentle push back on bad ideas may be required. Especially on things that may cause them harm and more headaches in the end. You may have to encourage them to have better eating and exercise habits and walk along side them through the process. It is loving them enough to always do what is best for them–and sometimes that causes conflict.

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      One of the most significant rules my husband and I live by is to always treat each other better than we treat others. What this means is the same courtesy, kindness and tolerance we extend to friends, family, associates and strangers, we extend to each other on a much higher level. When you are angry with your spouse, before you speak, ask yourself “would I say that to my mother, best friend or boss?” If it’s not appropriate to say it to anyone else it is definitely off limits for your spouse.

      Find small ways to make your spouse feel cherished and special. Go out of your way for them every chance you get. Make them your number one priority–always. Marriage takes sacrifice and putting your spouse first is how to make a marriage work.

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      Denise Hill

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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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