Advertising
Advertising

Marriages Fail When Couples Get Stuck In These Two Things, According To Psychologists

Marriages Fail When Couples Get Stuck In These Two Things, According To Psychologists

Marriage is one of the most discussed relationship dynamics in the modern age. According to recent research featured in the New York Times, it is one of the best endeavours that you can embark on in life. Being married tends to make people happier and more content with their lives, particularly if they are experiencing stressful periods of their life.

The Complexities of Marriage: Two Dynamics that can Damage your Relationship

While marriage can be an exceptionally rewarding endeavour, however, it is also exceptionally complex and fraught with numerous, toxic dynamics. Along with the numerous independent interactions and responsibilities that bind married couples, these dynamics can undermine relationships and ultimately end even the most stable unions. According to Peter Pearson, a therapists and co-founder of the Couples Institute, however, more than 60% of couples that he deals with find themselves stuck in one of two such dynamics.

Advertising

So what exactly are these dynamics and how do they manifest themselves? Let’s take a look: 

A Conflict-avoidant Dynamic

The first is known as a conflict-avoidant dynamic, which is defined by fear and a situation where the consequences and emotional of speaking out outweighs the potential benefits of engaging in discussion. Such a dynamic usually develops between a dominant and submissive partner, with the latter gradually becoming compliant as they compromise their own thoughts, dreams and desires in order to retain the favour of the former. Toxic in the extreme, such a dynamic can manifests itself through anything from purchase and interior design choices to decisions concerning relocating or starting a family.

Advertising

This does not necessarily means that one partner is controlling over the other, however, but more that each individual’s core value sets and instincts begin to emerge as they spend time in a relationship. This brings out reflex coping mechanisms and instinctive behaviour, leading to a communications breakdown and the decline of a marriage. Over time, the only way to avoid such a fate is to go through what is known as a process of differentiation, through which both parties strive to recognise the character traits of both themselves and their partners.

This enables couples to understand the differences that exist within their relationship, while empowering both parties to allow for these and push positive communication. Given that conflict-avoidance is one of they key, underlying causes of divorce in the modern age, this is a process that couples should strive to go through during their marriages.

Advertising

A Hostile-dependent Dynamic

A hostile-dependent dynamic is another of the primary causes of divorce, and it is most likely to occur in couples where both parties are of high dominance. In this type of relationship, both individuals seek to take control and push their own views within the relationship, without listening or empathising with the other.

One of the most obvious manifestations of this is the development of a blame culture, whether both parties indulge in finger-pointing and unnecessary accusations. So as couples begin to argue more, each member of a hostile-dependent dynamic will attempt to define the problem from a subjective perspective and determine faults in their partner.

Advertising

A similar resolution is required in this instance, although conflict resolution is made far harder by the relatively dominant and stubborn mind-set of both partners. Compromise is the key word here, as it is crucial that each individual recognises their own faults and the impact that these have on their relationship. Most importantly, they must learn to consider arguments and disputes from an objective perspective, while also listening to the views of their loved ones.

The Last Word

While these two toxic dynamics are among the most common causes of divorce and relationship issues, they are not insurmountable so long as couples are willing to work at improving their marriage. Communication and a willingness to listen are crucial, as is taking the time to understanding each other’s innate value sets and outlook on life.

Featured photo credit: Ahmet Kaya / Flickr via flickr.com

More by this author

6 Ways To Wake Up Early Without Feeling Tired 10 Reasons A Long-Distance Relationship Will Work 12 iPhone 6 Tricks You Probably Don’t Know But Should We Are Often Confused Empathy With Sympathy but What’s The Difference Actually? To Make Wise Decisions, Ask Yourself These Questions Every Time

Trending in Communication

1 When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You 2 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 3 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 4 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake 5 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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

Read Next