Advertising
Advertising

Marriage Is A Choice You Make Every Day, Not Only On The Wedding Day

Marriage Is A Choice You Make Every Day, Not Only On The Wedding Day

Most people are aware that marriage takes work– a lot of work. We know this. We’ve heard it over and over. We’ve seen the statistics on divorce and read countless articles telling us how hard marriage is.

And yet…somewhere along the way, we still become seduced by the fairy tale. I don’t know, maybe romantic comedies are to blame, or social media platforms that are littered with posts of drop dead gorgeous couples, frolicking, having fun and appearing to be engulfed in each other’s love. I admit–I am guilty of both. I love celebrating the love my husband and I share and I love seeing other couples who are madly in love. I love–love. But the truth is we only display five percent of our lives on social media. We hide the struggle, the grind and the fight that actually produces those glamorous photos and sustained our 20 year marriage.

Advertising

Marriage is a daily choice and not a one time event

Advertising

pexels-photo-137576

    One of the most popular misconceptions surrounding marriage is that once you make it through the wedding day–with all of it’s pomp and circumstance–say your “I do’s,” you ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Advertising

    In fact, most people spend more time, energy and resources planning their wedding day than they do planning the rest of their lives together. Marriage is a daily commitment. Every day you wake up you must consciously decide to commit to your spouse–for better or worse. Good, firm and solid marriages are not created through the images on Facebook and Instagram. They are forged in the mundane day-to-day dealings and through the difficult times. For every picture I have posted of us laughing, smiling and engaging in romantic nonsense there is a hidden moment of agony accompanied by tear stained cheeks, tousled hair and two people at their absolute worst trying to figure it all out. That is the plain, ugly reality of marriage.

    5 Ways to achieve the true fairy tale marriage and strengthen your relationship with your spouse

    So you’ve accepted the fact that your marriage is going to be work. Now what? Here are a few very simple and practical principles–that if applied consistently–will greatly increase the likelihood of a long and viable marriage.

    • Develop and cultivate a team mentality— You are a team. The team is bigger than it’s individual members. Understand that you will be called on to sacrifice for the good of the team. Sometimes you get to be the star and other times you don’t. Learn how to “take one for the team,” because when the team wins–all the players do too. Selfishness is the ultimate enemy of marriage and the underlying cause of the demise of so many.
    • Accept your spouse for who they are and work with what you got— Marriage is an “as is” transaction. Good, bad and everything in between your spouse is who they are and you married all of it. Trying to change your spouse is an exercise in futility and dishonoring to him or her. They are who they are. Cultivate the good and work through the bad. The true essence of marriage is learning to love your spouse–as is–unconditionally.
    • Treat your spouse better than you treat others— This principal rests on the border of doable and insanely impossible. It is one of the hardest principles to practice but one that yields the most rewards. When you have a conflict with a co-worker, you don’t jump in their face screaming obscenities and call them unsavory names (if you do, you have bigger issues–seek professional help). What most people do is plan what they are going to say and figure out how to best approach the situation. Your spouse deserves so much more respect, leniency, kindness and understanding than any other person (except– of course–your children) in your life.
    • Make a plan for attacking heavy issues and learn to pick your battles— Your spouse is going to get on your nerves. Their habits, moods and idiosyncrasies are going to rub you the wrong way at times. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should argue over these mild infractions. Learn to let things go. Everything need not be a fight. When dealing with larger issues that vastly impact the marriage, develop a strategy and attack the issue not your spouse. Remember you are a team and the problem is the opponent. Find the right time, place, tone of voice and choice of words to ensure that your message and intentions are clear. If tempers flare– take a break. Keep your focus on the issue at hand and never turn on your spouse. Mastering the art of communication is key when trying to conduct negotiations.
    • Forgive and let go–Marriage is one big exercise in forgiveness. If you can’t forgive and can carry a grudge forever– DO NOT get married. Admittedly, some infractions are harder to forgive than others and forgiveness does take time. However, you must actively work on moving toward forgiving your spouse. You have to surrender the right to punish your spouse and absolve them of their wrong doing. It is the only way to ensure your marriage keeps moving forward and It’s for the good of the team.

    At the end of the day, marriage is for grown folks. It takes maturity, determination, tenacity and unconditional love to create and sustain longevity. Making an intentional commitment every day is the secret to happily ever after.

    Advertising

    More by this author

    Denise Hill

    Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

    20 Simple Ways to Bring Positive Energy into Life Right Now 3 Reminders to Help You Enjoy Life Even When Life Is Tough Why It’s Never Too Late To Redefine Yourself 30 Best Business Podcasts That Help Entrepreneurs Become Successful Day 10 Shocking! Exercise Right After Eating Ain’t That Bad for Health

    Trending in Communication

    1 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 2 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake 3 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life 4 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About 5 How to Find Inner Peace and Lasting Happiness

    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