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What Romance Is Like After 10 Years Of Marriage

What Romance Is Like After 10 Years Of Marriage

Falling in love can be a wonderful experience. When a relationship is new, it’s full of the kind of romance you see in movies, complete with flowers, love letters, and promises to be together forever. It isn’t always this way, though.

Maybe you’ve started to see a difference in your own relationship. Maybe the way you used to be together has changed and you’re wondering where the romance has gone. Don’t worry or stress, your relationship isn’t burning out or ending. In fact, it’s getting stronger. The romance is still there, it’s always there. The only thing that’s changed is the meaning. Romance changes the longer you’re in a relationship.

The Nature of Romance

Advice columnist and author Heather Havrilesky best explains the evolution of romance when she wrote about her own experience with romance after 10 years of marriage —  What Romance Really Means After 10 Years of Marriage. In a new relationship, you’re still looking for proof that the other person loves you and the other person is still trying to prove their love. This takes the form of classic romance when you want to shout from the rooftops, “I’m in love!” for all the world to hear.

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“After a decade of marriage, if things go well, you don’t need any more proof. What you have instead — and what I would argue is the most deeply romantic thing of all — is this palpable, reassuring sense that it’s okay to be a human being.”

After 10 years of marriage, or in any long-term relationship, romance is no longer about proving anything. You already know without a doubt that the other person loves you. Instead, romance becomes the confidence that you can be human and your partner will not abandon you.

Havrilesky talks about how she got sick one night with dysentery. On her way to the bathroom, she passed out and broke her ribs on the side of the bathtub. This moment, of course, led to a much larger mess in the bathroom. Her husband of 10 years came to her aid, took care of her, and took care of the not-so-pleasant situation. His actions in this stressful moment, one of caring and void of complaint, is her definition of romance.

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You see, in a long-term relationship, you forego the romance of morning text messages and constant kisses. These things are no longer necessary. You have something much more valuable. You have comfort, grace, and a love without judgment. You have the freedom to be who you are, to have bad days, and to make mistakes without your partner being angry with you or making you feel bad. True romance.

The Evolution of Romance

In her article, Havrilesky goes on to talk about how romance is “survival” and “survival is ugly”. The sad reality of a marriage or committed relationship is that one person will die before the other. The romance shared between partners guarantees that one person will be there for the end-of-life moment. “You are both mortal and you’re both surviving, together, and you’re in this to the very end.”

Your partner will sit beside you, hold your hand, and tell you they love you while signing papers, listening to doctors, and paying for treatment. Doesn’t sound romantic? After a lifetime together, it is the definition of romance.

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Romance is finding the person that you can get through life with. All of life. Not just the pretty parts like walking through the park, taking a Caribbean vacation, or enjoying dinners in nice restaurants. It is putting your heads together and taking on whatever life throws your way, be that illness, children, or unemployment. All of these mundane moments actually become exciting and romantic, strengthening your relationship and your love.

True Romance

Havrilesky further describes true romance as something that develops when,

“Two deluded, lazy people face a bewildering sea of filth and blood and gore together, but they make it through somehow, some way, without losing their minds completely.”

She says it is about realizing that neither of you are immortal, but it doesn’t matter because you’re in this life thing together until the very end. Her point with all of this, and what you should remember, is that marriage doesn’t lose its romance over the years. Don’t be tricked into believing that true romance is in questioning another person’s love for you or in worrying that you might lose that love.

True romance is never doubting the love between you, of laughing at life’s difficulties, and knowing that you two will survive together.

More by this author

Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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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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