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17 Ideas to Keep Your Love and Marriage Strong Through Thick and Thin

17 Ideas to Keep Your Love and Marriage Strong Through Thick and Thin
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Who doesn’t love a good fairy tale? Everyone! And most of us want to believe that when we find our Prince Charming (or Princess) that we’ll easily ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.

But for so many couples, that simply doesn’t happen.

With the divorce rate around 50%, it is clear that most people don’t know how to create and maintain healthy relationships and marriages.

If you think about it, that’s not very surprising. I mean, it’s not like any of us had a class in school called “Love and Marriage 101.” In fact, most of us never learned any life skills at all, let alone relationship skills.

So, it’s no wonder most couples are floundering out there and don’t know how to save themselves.

As a dating coach and communication professor, I hear people complain about relationships all the time. And do you want to know what the top complaint is that I hear all the time is? It is…

“Relationships are so difficult!”

And I always respond:

“Relationships aren’t inherently difficult. It’s the people involved in the relationships that MAKE them difficult.”

So, whether you are embarking on a new relationship, or trying to fix a 50-year-old marriage, here are some tips for you.

1. Know your love languages.

If you’ve never heard of the book, The Five Love Languages, then you should definitely read it.

Written by marriage therapist, Gary Chapman, it explains how there are basically five main ways that a person expresses and wants to receive love. And you and your partner may not do it the same way. Reading it will help you understand yourself and them better.

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You can also take a look at this article to learn a bit more about the five love languages:

Understanding These Five Love Languages Can Reward You With The Perfect Relationship

2. Empathize with each other.

One main problem with relationships is that most people only see their own point of view. It’s inevitable that couples will have disagreements. But that doesn’t mean it has to damage your relationship.

So, in order to really understand each other, you have to listen to and accept the other person’s point of view. Everyone deserves to be understood:

How Loving Advice Turns Into a Weapon That Kills Relationships

3. Have date night.

One of the sad things about relationships as the years go on is that people forget to “date” each other. They think the “work” is done because they’re so comfortable with one another.

But sometimes life, and kids, get in the way of keeping the romance alive. It’s essential that you go out on date nights so you can consistently keep connecting.

4. Learn to work through conflict effectively.

Most people handle conflict the wrong way. They think it’s a “Me vs. You” situation. They think they have to be right and “win” the arguments. This is backwards thinking.

It’s not Me vs. You… it’s US. Think of yourself as a team who are working together to accomplish a goal and solve a problem TOGETHER.

5. Understand each other’s unique quirks.

Everyone has weird things that they do. Whether it’s not liking to share their food or not being able to be spontaneous, you need to learn to accept each other’s quirks.

You may not like them, but you do need to accept them and try not to let it ruin your relationship.

6. Take a Myers-Briggs personality test.

There is a great website called 16personalities.com that lets you take the personality test. It shows you how much of an introvert or an extrovert someone is, among many other personality traits.

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Once you both take this and read about each other’s personalities, you will understand each other better.

7. Talk about finances and plan a budget.

Money is one of the top things that break couples up. Maybe one of you is a spender, and the other is a saver. That’s a problem! It will cause a lot of disagreements and strife.

So, talk about how you handle money. Come to a compromise, make a budget and stick to it.

8. Don’t neglect intimacy.

If you have kids, it’s easy to neglect intimacy. And intimacy means more than just sex (although you shouldn’t neglect that either).

You need to have intimate conversations, cuddle while you sleep, and just do the things that keep the two of you connected.

9. Beware of addictions.

I’ve heard people say that everyone has some sort of addiction. And I’m not talking just alcohol or drugs. People can be addicted to anything from shopping to video game playing.

If you do ANY activity too often, it’s taking quality time away from spending time with your significant other.

So, cut down on that so you can re-focus your energy on the relationship.

10. Don’t be selfish.

It’s easy to focus on yourself and what YOU want. But it’s not so easy to put your needs aside sometimes and focus on what your partner wants.

Any quality relationship involves compromise. You can’t be #1 all the time. And if you want to be, then you shouldn’t be in a relationship. You should stay single for the rest of your life.

11. Have a balance of togetherness and independence.

Sometimes couples fall into one of two different extremes: too much togetherness or too much time apart. Neither is healthy.

Of course, you need togetherness to connect. But too much of it might make you lose your own identity. On the other hand, too much time on your own will make you drift apart.

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So, keep an eye on the balance you have (or lack thereof).

12. Talk to each other.

Most people’s lives are very busy. Work, kids, family, other activities… they get in the way of your relationship. But only if you let them.

Make sure you still talk to each other. And not just about the kids or work. Really talk.

Get into interesting and deep conversations sometimes. If you don’t think you have the time, then make time.

13. Put effort in every day.

After people have been in a long-term relationships for a while, they tend to think, “Ahhhhh. All the work and wooing is done. Now I can be the real me and do nothing!”

But that’s when the real work starts! You have to think of your relationship as a plant.

If you don’t water it every day, it will die. So, make sure you “water” it every day.

14. Put your partner’s needs at least equal to – or before – your own.

This goes hand-in-hand with selfishness. No one wants their partner to feel like the don’t care about their needs.

Trust me, I’ve been there and it’s not fun.

You have to figure out what your partner likes, and then do it. And vice versa. Both people have to put 100% effort into pleasing the other. It can’t be one-sided.

15. Be self-aware.

This is easier for some people than others. But having an element of self-awareness helps you see how your behaviors are affecting the other person.

Playing video games every day? Well, maybe you should wake up at some point and realize “Hey, I’ve been playing for 5 hours straight. Maybe I should stop.”

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You get the idea.

16. Consider how you are contributing to the relationship – for better or for worse.

Most people blame their significant other for the problems in the relationship. But what a crock! It takes two to tango, right? So, it takes two to mess up a relationship too.

You need to look at yourself and see how you are making the relationship better or worse. And that takes some self-awareness like I mentioned above.

If you lack self-awareness, I’m sure that your partner will be happy to tell you how you could change your behavior for the betterment of the relationship. Or, you could seek the help of a therapist too.

17. Always stay affectionate and loving.

I realize that not everyone is a warm and fuzzy person. Some people don’t like touching, hugging, and snuggling very much. But, it really does help a relationship stay strong. It releases good chemicals into the brain the promote bonding.

So, even if you don’t like doing it so much, try to do it so you stay connected – even on a biological level.

Final thoughts

As I said earlier, relationships don’t have to be difficult. It just takes some awareness of what helps keep it healthy, and then some effort to keep it going.

But if you keep putting in effort every day, it doesn’t feel like “effort.” You should actually want to keep your partner happy.

Because remember, the happier they are, the happier YOU will be too.

Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

Is Living Together Before Marriage Good or Bad? How to Improve Intimacy in Your Marriage and Rekindle the Passion 10 Tips on How to Do Something You Don’t Want to Do How to Stop Being Absent Minded and Start to Be More Attentive How to Beat Your Fear of Rejection and Embrace Failures

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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