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5 Things I Learned About Marriage After My Divorce

5 Things I Learned About Marriage After My Divorce

A divorce is not a breakup. It is more like a death. It is the death of your relationship, and the death of who you once were. But unlike death, divorce also brings a new beginning, and you have the beautiful opportunity to take some of the most difficult lessons you have learned into your new life with you.

1. Marriage Is Not 50/50

Many of us enter into a marriage thinking that being one half of a whole means that you will do one half of the work. But, marriage is not an even split of obligations, duties, and affection. Maybe it is on your best days, but your best days are not your everyday.

There will be days that you barely have the energy to muster up 10 percent of what you need to contribute. Those days where work is crazy and your kids are crazier can bring you down low. There may be weeks where your partner feels the same way. What makes a marriage work is not the equal division of two parts, but the willingness to forgive and make up the rest of the work when that equal division does not happen.

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Do not sit around and wait for your partner to meet you at the half way point. Be prepared to meet them where they need you, and consider it a gift, not a loan.

2. Go to Bed Angry

You never understand how to be truly mad at someone until you have been disappointed by the person you married. There is no anger like the one that is fueled by the fire of being let down. It is this kind of anger that makes you want to let the world know how you feel. Don’t.

Going to bed angry is sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and for your marriage. Even if eight hours of time, distance, and perspective doesn’t allow you to calm down, it will help you to realize what it is you are really feeling and why their behavior has caused such a deep wound. Without this, you are only gearing up for another pointless argument that results in half-hearted apologies and more hurt feelings.

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3. Romance Is Essential

Think back to when you first started dating. Things were electric. You spent all day thinking of the right thing to say to the person that you wanted to have around for the rest of your life. Then, the chase was over. You won, and there is no need to be the smartest, wittiest, or best looking person in the room anymore. Right?

A little bit of romance, or a lot depending on your needs, goes a long way in your marriage. It gives you the opportunity to present the best part of yourself to your spouse over and over again, and you remind them why you made such an important decision. Neglecting it makes you question everything, and soon those questions become doubts which too often lead you halfway out the door.

4. Live Your Life Now

Waiting around to live your life until your spouse does x or the stars align makes you unhappy. Moreover, it is almost always unnecessary.

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Many people have had to deal with expensive divorces for not paying attention to this point. Just because you have agreed to live as a partner to another person does not mean that you are conjoined twins. Doing things for yourself when you are ready for them helps you continue to progress as an individual, and ultimately, it helps you give back more graciously to your marriage.

So, if it does not eliminate your joint resources, use your own life to accomplish your personal goals. Take that trip. Write your book. Finish that class. Build yourself up so that you can build your marriage up, and by doing so, you will inspire rather than push your partner to get on your level.

5. You Don’t Get a Gold Sticker for Staying in a Bad Marriage

Divorce is a hard idea to cope with when you promised yourself and your partner forever. While divorce is a defining life event that is hard, avoiding it is not the answer. A hopeless marriage is a hopeless marriage, and you only get one life to live. So, if after you have exhausted every option available to you, you cannot see even a moderately happy future with your spouse, end your marriage.

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Unhappy marriages often make for unhappy people, but it is not only you who suffers. Your kids, family members, friends, colleagues, and probably even your barista will feel it when your marriage has brought you to the lowest of lows.

Divorce is a defining life event, and it becomes woven into the fabric of who you are. It will change you, but let it change you into the person you need to be.

Featured photo credit: Kumon via flickr.com

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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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