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What A Realistic Wedding Vow Should Say Instead

What A Realistic Wedding Vow Should Say Instead

We like to think that marriage is a beautiful thing, and that getting divorced is the worst ending anyone can have. But the truth is, the divorce rate today is so high that we shouldn’t be shocked if someone we know tells us they’re getting a divorce.

    Credit: Business Insider

    The map above lets us compare the divorce rate around the world. We can see that a lot of the areas are coloured red, indicating a divorce rate of 40% or above, which means a high divorce rate is now a worldwide phenomenon.

    As of 2016, the Maldives has the highest national divorce rate, with 10.97 couples out of 1000 people divorcing each year.[1] Not far behind is the US at 3.6 divorces per 1000 people each year. This makes us wonder: why do we want to get married in the first place? Do the reasons for getting married also explain why so many of us regret later on?

    In fact, there may be some ‘right reasons’ and ‘wrong reasons’ when it comes to marriage…

    Initially, people get married because it somehow locks themselves up from temptations which can be bad for them in the long term.

    Sometimes, we get sudden, strong feelings that compel us to do things that we know we shouldn’t. Sometimes, we lose control and make the wrong decisions. We get scared when that happens, and we wish we had a way to stop ourselves. This is perfectly normal. Psychologists even believe that some of us were born like this:[2]

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    You may have heard of a psychology experiment called the ‘marshmallow test’. What it tells us is that some children have a harder time resisting the temptation of instant happiness, even if they are told waiting will bring more satisfaction at a later time. And, unfortunately, their lack of impulse control seems to continue to affect them when they grow up, making them less successful in life.

    This perhaps explains why affairs and one-night stands—the regrettable mistakes, usually happen on the spur of the moment. It is human to have impulses, but we need something powerful to help us fight the bad impulses at moments of weakness.

    Which is why some people choose to get married: they voluntarily get ‘locked up’ by committing to a marriage, hoping that it would make them feel guilty enough to stay away from their darkest desires when any arise.[3] They want to be reminded of what is important in the long run.

    And instead of getting married out of wants, some people get married out of “need”; which is a little different.

    Now that we know not every couple get married for the right reason (love, perhaps?), it is easier for us to understand why so many people get divorced eventually, and why some of us even regret doing something so beautiful.

    The problem is that people don’t always get married because they want to spend the rest of their lives with the right person. Rather, they get married because they are afraid to stay single, want someone else to make them feel secure, or because they feel pressured by their parents, etc.[4]

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    Yes, all these reasons make sense; but none of them is about what people truly want or how they really feel. They might not want to get married, but they simply think that they have to get married.

    These days, some people even get married because marriage has become a status symbol that represents success in personal life.[5]

    This may sound funny, but it’s actually what we as a society believe.

    In the modern language, ‘married’ somehow translates to ‘successful’. People believe getting married put them in a privileged position, one superior to what’s represented by other forms of relationship such as cohabitation, according to a document written by the US Justice Department.[6]

    Indeed, marriage requires us to have the ability to support ourselves. Getting married can mean that we have a stable income, a place to live, etc., and the society recognizes that.

    It is natural to want to show off to family and friends, but some don’t realize the weight of marriage and are uncertain about what they’re committing themselves to.

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    While people are not getting married because of wanting to make their relationship better, they are also unaware of what getting married really means.

    If we look at some of the wedding vows today, it’s not hard to tell that most of the time only the good about marriage is being said: I will love you and you alone no matter what.

    Instead of bringing up the reality, marriage is being fantasized like a fairy tale. Not really realizing that marriage itself is a promise a couple should keep in the future, many never imagine what could happen after getting married, or who they might become after marrying each other.

    Instead of fantasizing about marriage, a wedding vow should be realistic for everyone to understand what marriage really means.

    This is because our current vows tend to be very optimistic, and when things don’t turn out as expected in the end, people get upset, regret everything and want a divorce.

    The ideal vow should warn us of the cold truths about marriage. For example, it will be difficult to tolerate the quirks or the other, or, we most definitely will have arguments and break each other’s heart. We need to be prepared. We don’t want to regret getting married only after we’ve had a taste of the bitter reality.

    Here are a few suggestions covered in The Book of Life’s Utopian Marriage:

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    I accept that I am – in countless ways I don’t yet know – very hard to live with.

    Everyone has some very significant things wrong with them. We promise not to look around. There isn’t anyone better out there really. Once you get to know them, everyone is impossible.

    Many days we’ll be unhappy; many days, we’ll suffer, many days we’ll regret we ever did this crazy thing. It’s not congratulations we need, it’s commiserations.

    Keep in mind that while it is important to have realistic expectations when deciding to get married, we shouldn’t be discouraged or feel hopeless about marriage.

    We only need to slow down and learn what it really means to be married, and be honest about what we truly want.

    This article is inspired by The School of Life’s What our Wedding Vows should Say, watch the video here .

    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

    Reference

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    Wen Shan

    Proud Philosophy grad. Based in HK.

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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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