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Why Marriage Counseling is More Important than the Wedding Vow

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Why Marriage Counseling is More Important than the Wedding Vow

Most couples have a 50 percent chance of getting divorced, and marriages after the first are even more likely to break up.

    When people get married, they usually aren't thinking about their potential for divorce or the need for marriage counseling in the future. But maybe they should spend less time thinking about their wedding vows and more time considering what they will do when things get rocky in the future.

    This is why marriage counseling is something that couples should consider seriously.

    Premarital counseling helps you to foresee the relationship's future.

    Marriage counseling can actually begin before the wedding. Some churches may require marriage preparation classes that include premarital counseling as a condition of performing the ceremony.

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    This counseling might include talking about the couple's individual family histories and the family they plan to build together, including the possibility of children, whether they will be raised in the church and how you might deal with conflict.

    You can also go to a marriage or family counselor with your intended for premarital counseling, which should help you to start your marriage with a clean slate.

    It can be a way to clear up any resentment or fear of marriage and give you a safe place to talk about things like if, when and how many children you want, how you might deal with money issues or other stressors on your relationship and to make sure you have similar values and goals for your relationship, your family and your life together.

    Taking the time to do premarital counseling also sets you up to be more willing to engage in marriage counseling later on if you should need it.

    It isn't just about fixing things, but building stronger roots.

    The most common reasons couples choose to go to marriage counseling include lack of communication within the relationship, lack of emotional support or engagement and worries that they might be headed toward divorce.

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    Other issues that often send couples to therapy include fighting or specific relationship issues like infidelity.

    Other people simply want to make their marriages stronger and look to professionals to help.

    Before trying a counseling, be clear about what you want from it.

    Most couples engage in marriage counseling after issues have been simmering for months, or even years, and the longer you wait to seek help the harder it is to work through the issues. Some experts say the average couple waits six years longer than they should to start counseling.

    Know what you want from counseling from the beginning. Are you and your partner all in, fully committed to saving the marriage, no matter how much work it takes? Or are one or both of you pretty sure you want to break up? Knowing the answer will help define what a success looks like, but either way, you should maintain an open mind about the process.

    Learn all you can about the counselor you are going to see. A license is a baseline, but what kind of training do they have in marriage counseling? What's their success rate at keeping marriages together? What is their style? Do you feel comfortable spilling intimate details of your life to them? Take the time to find someone who feels right to you both.

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    Research and find what's best for you and your partner is a must.

    Now that you understand that marriage counseling can be so important to a marriage, you maybe thinking about how it's really like and whether there're things you should take good care of before trying it. Let's take a look at some of the things you should know before going to a marriage counseling.

    What marriage counseling is like?

    Some counselors will see each person in the couple separately, then bring them together for sessions where they can work through issues as a group. Meeting together or separately can sometimes lead to resentment because a member of the couple might feel their partner is getting more attention or that the counselor is taking their side.

    A popular and effective form of couple's counseling is Emotionally Focused Therapy, or EFT. The idea behind this approach is that emotional responses are tied to our individual needs, and that changing emotions can lead to changes in attitude and approach within a couple.

    The aim is to rebuild the attachment bond by focusing on the emotional needs of each partner and changing their interactions based on the other person's needs. The EFT process involves stages that take a varying amount of time to work though, depending on the issues the couple has.

    How much does it cost usually?

    For 90% of professional marriage counselors, one session equals one hour. Couples are usually recommended to have one weekly session of counseling for at least 12 weeks.

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    Most marriage counselors charge between $75 and $150 an hour on average.[1]

    Marriage counseling doesn't guarantee a happily-ever-after marriage, but it does improve relationships.

    Research into the effects of counseling find that most people who have been through couple's therapy are satisfied with the result. The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists has found that 98% of people surveyed said they received good or excellent therapy, while 97% said they got the help they needed.

    That doesn't mean all those couples stayed together, of course. About a quarter of couples that receive counseling will get divorced within two years, and about 38% will break up within four years.

    But going to marriage counseling can be just the thing to turn a troubled relationship around, and is certainly better than not trying to fix things that aren't working in a relationship.

    Chart credit: The Single Father's Guide

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    Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

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    Sarah White

    Freelance Writer, Editor, Professional Crafter

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    Last Updated on July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

    Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

    1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

    According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

    “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

    Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

    Warming up

    If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

    If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

    Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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    1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
    2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
    3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

    Stay hydrated

    Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

    To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

    Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

    Meditate

    Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

    Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

    Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

    Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

    2. Focus on your goal

    One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

    Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

    Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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    Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

    If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

    3. Convert negativity to positivity

    There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

    ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

    It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

    Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

    Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

    Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

    4. Understand your content

    Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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    However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

    “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

    Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

    Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

    One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

    5. Practice makes perfect

    Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

    In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

    Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

    6. Be authentic

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

    Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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    Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

    To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

    With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

    Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

    7. Post speech evaluation

    Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

    Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

    We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

    You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

    Improve your next speech

    As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

    Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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    • How did I do?
    • Are there any areas for improvement?
    • Did I sound or look stressed?
    • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
    • Was I saying “um” too often?
    • How was the flow of the speech?

    Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

    If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

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