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50% of Marriages Ends up in Divorce, Is It That Hard to Save a Marriage?

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50% of Marriages Ends up in Divorce, Is It That Hard to Save a Marriage?

Do you know that around 50% of marriages in the US ends up in divorce? There’s also an alarming increase of second-time marriages. It looks like a lot of married couples are in a relationship crisis, but why then couples counseling is still something that sounds like a taboo to many? Why hasn’t it been widely accepted yet?

Compared to others, the divorce rate is 5.2% higher in the 40 to 50 age group, in which most of the divorces were initiated by women, according to a study done by by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This may be because of the increased tendency of women seeking higher education degrees and better-paid jobs[1]. And this may also because of a more open mindset towards ending a marriage due to different reasons such as domestic violence.

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Although getting divorced is easier now, not all couples want to end their relationships just like that. In fact, many choose to give their relationship another chance by seeking help from others – couples counseling.

Seeking couples counseling services is giving your relationship another chance.

The reason why the divorce rate is high among the couples aged 40 to 50 is that they’ve reached reached a point in life where routine becomes a killer. The sparks’ gone because of different struggles they’re dealing with in the family and possibly in their lives. Here are some signs that maybe it’s time to consider asking for help:

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  • When communication is, overall, negative: You don’t talk, you just spend half of your time arguing over the weather, money, kids, your broken car, your work troubles and even your neighbors’ new lawn mower. Everything can become a reason to start a heated argument.
  • When you start losing trust: Relationships are built upon trust, and when that starts to quake, you start to question even the stupidest things that can come across your mind, like how and when did that new friend showed up, since when that new hobby started to take that much interest, etc.
  • When you feel the need to keep secrets: Of course we all have our personal stuff that we prefer not to talk about, but when you feel that you need to keep things from your partner, then it’s a sign that things aren’t working the way they should.
  • When there are severe financial differences: Some of the essential aspects of marriages rely on a good financial management. If one wants to start saving money for retirement and the other spends more from what’s making in a month’s salary, and the tendency doesn’t change over months (or even years), then probably it’s time to seek advice someplace else.
  • When there is no intimacy: No one expects marriages to be like the first year over time [2] as people change, responsibilities show up, and we tend to get accustomed to the same things – meaning that the initial spark may be lost. But if now you don’t even kiss each other goodbye, then something else is going on here.
  • When you live separate lives: To put this in a few words, you share a roof, and that’s all. If even your roommate in college was more aware of your routine and things that went on in your life than your spouse, something’s not quite right in your relationship.

If you can relate to one to two of the above signs, then it’s time to sit down and talk about your relationship with your partner.[3] If you can identify more than four of the above signs with your marriage, you should book a session of couples counseling soon. There is still time to fix things if you love each other.

To save your relationship, let the counselor help you. But your effort counts too.

Pick a therapist that really suits you and your partner.

Referral is the best way to find a professional that suits you and your partner. Either a friend who went through the same as you do at the moment, or your parents, or a co-worker you trust, or your doctor, etc. can give a helping hand to find the person who can set a middle-ground to your constant quarrels or a lack of affection.

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But be sure your therapist’s opinion isn’t biased towards keeping a marriage no matter what because sometimes, there is no viable way to make a relationship work if the differences are way too many. Also, make sure the therapist is someone who’s neutral when it comes to helping your relationship. A friend of one of the spouses definitely isn’t a good choice. You don’t want a biased opinion that can make the relationship worse than before.

Always remember the good times.

One doesn’t simply marry another person because they see each other in the street, fall in love immediately and then tie the knot; there is so much more behind each love story.[4] Think of the first date you two had, a memorable moment while you were dating, a gift you loved, and bring them along to the therapy session.

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Sometimes, the only reason why a therapy works is that the counselor helps us to talk [5] – yes, talk – without being afraid of what our spouse may say. The counselor is there to help, to make your other half understand your feelings and to help you to understand what your spouse thinks about your relationship.

Commitment is the key.

A healthy marriage takes two,[6] nothing is going to change if both people aren’t willing to work together.

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If you get to the point that one believes seeking therapy to mend the relationship is a waste of time, then it’s probably best to move on with your life.[7]

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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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:

Reference

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