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Signs You’re in a Loveless Marriage (And How to Cope with It)

Signs You’re in a Loveless Marriage (And How to Cope with It)

When you are unhappy with your marriage, chances are you may be in a loveless marriage without being aware of it.

Loveless marriages are more common than you think, and there are a variety of solutions to ease the dilemma you may find yourself in. In this article, I will share insights on 3 critical signs of an unhappy marriage, what happens in a marriage without intimacy and whether you should stay in a marriage without love.

Sign #1 You Question Whether Your Partner Still Loves You

Love is a very strong emotion. However, if you find yourself asking whether your partner loves you, it indicates there is a problem in your marriage.

Emotional divides that make you question a partner’s love, can be caused by a lack of communication, conflicting values, sexual incompatibility or too much time focusing on the less than pleasing attributes of your partner.

Some women ask me whether their husbands love them during their consulting sessions. These women had already spent many hours discussing it with their female friends: “He does this and that, but he never tells me he loves me. Does he still love me?”

Males tend to communicate their love more through their actions rather than their words. If his partner then questions his love, it can make him feel unappreciated when he thinks he is showing his love via his actions.

If someone loves you in a relationship, you usually know it, as it is obvious by their actions and overall attitude toward you. However, when you question or doubt their love, it can put a wall of resistance between you which puts you both on the defensive. This can become a vicious cycle, where you constantly trigger each other and stop noticing the qualities you originally fell in love with.

How to Cope with It?

Build emotional connection and enhance feelings of attraction with your partner.

Yes, I know this is easier said than done. But it can definitely be achieved with the correct knowledge and technique.

Remember: you are 100% responsible for your life and the outcomes within it. You chose to date your partner; you decide how you interact with them; you made the decision to marry your spouse. These were your decisions.

Your choices are your responsibility, but it doesn’t mean you should blame yourself or your partner when things aren’t going as they should. You just need to make a few adjustments to how you are showing up within your relationship.

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Your spouse is not responsible for your happiness. Only you are responsible for your happiness.

If you indulge in thoughts about being in a loveless marriage, you will continually trigger yourself emotionally and therefore feel unmotivated toward the very actions that would save your marriage.

Marriage is just one way to make your life happier, and that’s only when it is maintained with the right intentions and actions. How you maintain your marriage is up to you. It’s your responsibility to build a strong emotional connection with your partner and continue your efforts to enhance attraction over the lifetime of your relationship.

Start by Creating an Inviting Environment

First and foremost, create a more inviting environment for you and your partner. Pay attention to the way you think, act and dress.

Know that your thoughts will always directly influence how you feel. Start by changing your own thoughts, words and actions from being negatively focused to being focused toward your ideal outcome and, you will create a flow-on effect which directly influences your partner’s behavior.

I understand that your spouse plays a key role in your marriage, but you can only influence your spouse’s actions and feelings; you cannot control everything. In fact, being controling is the fastest way to experiencing an unhappy and loveless marriage.

Stop Blaming Your Partner – and Inspire Them Instead

Stop blaming your partner for your lack of connection and take action steps each day to reignite attraction. As well as paying attention to how you look and feel, this includes lifting your partner up with appreciation and gratitude for their contribution.

It’s important to inspire your spouse to invest in your marriage because someone who invests in something expects it to work. For instance, you can ask for his/her help once in a while, so your partner feels that they are wanted and needed by you. Then, appreciate their effort.

When your partner is contributing to your life, and you are showing your appreciation, the emotional connection between you naturally becomes stronger.

Create Shared Experiences and Show Your Love Passionately

Secondly, create more shared experiences with your partner. This can be a date night once a week. It can also be having a holiday for two weeks once a year. Or several romantic weekends away. Don’t let your marriage become boring and predictable after the initial excitement of your wedding.

Lastly, show your love passionately. In life, you don’t get what you want; you get what you give. Hence, you should show your love first. Tell your husband/wife how much you love him/her and then see how things change. This is Law of Reciprocity.[1]

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Sign #2 You Are in a Marriage Without Intimacy

Marriages without intimacy are more common than you would assume. This can be due to sexual dysfunction issues, one’s sexual technique doesn’t fulfill another, or the couple simply has no time, energy or mood for sexy time. For many reasons, there are many couples who stop having a sexy time in the bedroom a few years after getting married. It’s one of those secrets that people just don’t talk about and keep hidden behind their bedroom door.

Know that if you are in a marriage without intimacy, you are not alone. There are many others in a similar situation.

Now you may wonder, “What happens in a marriage without intimacy?”

The honest answer is that a marriage without intimacy is a sure sign of relationship breakdown. Your marriage is just not healthy without intimate relations. Along with emotional connection, sexual intimacy is the glue which holds your relationship together. While one partner may imagine they can live without sex, it’s unfair and unrealistic to expect their partner to be okay with it.

In most healthy marriages, sex results from the combination of closeness, intimacy and emotional connection. Even as you age together, sex and intimacy remain a vital and loving component of a healthy and happy relationship.

While some marriages can sustain a lack of intimacy, usually one partner is not happy with this arrangement.

When encountering sexual function or other intimacy issues, it’s imperative to maintain a strong emotional connection and/or build mutual benefits in your marriage. Sadly, many couples who are in marriages without intimacy fail to build strong emotional connection or mutual benefits, so they end up in loveless marriages.

How to Cope with It?

Fix the problems in the bedroom and work on other areas outside the bedroom.

When you are in a sexless marriage, you need to fix the issues in the bedroom first. The best solution is to look for professional help in this regard.

Remember that in a marriage, you need to work together as a team. If one partner is suffering from a sexual function issue, then support them by providing emotional support and encouragement and get professional help. No one likes to feel like they are failing as a human, and most sexual issues can be corrected with the right knowledge and technique.

Your marriage is very important to you, so you may want to invest in professional consultation and improve the situation as soon as possible.

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An expert who specializes in this area can identify the root cause of a sexless marriage and give you appropriate advice; thus, you will benefit from this new knowledge and reignite the passion in your marriage. Of course, you will need to reinforce the emotional connection with your partner as well.

Build Mutual Benefits

Meanwhile, you can look at various ways to build mutual benefits with your spouse. For a male partner, mutual benefits need to be intimately focused. This is because a man without sexual intimacy is like a fish without water! Giving each other a sensual and loving massage at least once a week, with the simple focus on giving enjoyment to each other without any other expectation, will help him know you are still attracted to him.

Outside of the bedroom, there are other ways to build mutual benefits. For instance, if you already have children with your partner, you and your partner can spend more family time with children. If you and your partner have built a business together, you can spend more time working together developing your business.

Having said that, it doesn’t mean mutual benefits can or should replace sexual intimacy in a marriage but working on other areas of your marriage will certainly help to enhance connection.

Sign #3 You and Your Partner Are Not Even Friends

This is the BIGGEST sign of a loveless marriage. Yes, you read that right.

If your marriage lacks emotional connection or intimacy, you can usually still fix it. However, if you and your spouse are not even friends, that’s a much bigger problem.

Let’s look at two scenarios in which the husband and wife are no longer friends:

  1. Anna and Ben were married for four years. The first year was exciting, positive and romantic. The second year was okay. The third year was boring and run-of-the-mill. The fourth year was best characterized by basic conversations about logistics in life only, for instance, who would buy toilet paper on their way home tomorrow, who would send jackets to the dry cleaners, etc. In other words, they only talked to each other when they had to.
  2. Cynthia and David were married for five years and went into business together. The first two years was great. The final three years was terrible. They developed conflicts of interest financially; consequently, they basically became enemies in their business transactions.

These two couples were not even friends towards the end of their marriages. Hence, of course, they both felt like they were in loveless marriages.

How to Cope with It?

Evaluate whether your marriage has the potential to give you what you want.

First and most importantly, you need to know exactly what you want from this marriage. Do you want love, intimacy or both? Do you want financial freedom or power? Sharing the same direction and values makes it easier to work together on your marriage.

Since you and your partner are not even friends in this scenario, I recommend you make two lists using the power of logic:

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  • List 1 – pros of staying in this marriage
  • List 2 – cons of staying in this marriage.

When there are more pros than cons, you can stay in this marriage because there is something worth fighting for. But when there are more cons than pros, you no longer love your partner and don’t feel inclined toward working together to resolve your differences, leaving may be the better option.

You really need to weigh up those pros and cons because there are huge emotional and financial costs involved in ending a marriage, especially when children are involved.

Please note that not every marriage is meant to last forever. When you end a marriage, it doesn’t necessarily mean your marriage has failed. Honestly, your marriage has probably helped you in tremendous ways when you think about it.

For instance, when Anna and Ben got married, it was right for them at that time. They moved to the city together and started their new careers there. But as time went by, both Anna and Ben evolved and became different people. Their interests dramatically changed as they were growing into different directions. It doesn’t mean something must be wrong with them. It just means their marriage wasn’t right for them four years later.

Have a Shared Direction in Your Marriage

It’s important to have a shared direction in your marriage that you are both working toward.

When Cynthia and David got married, they didn’t have any conflict of interest. They actually had a very good time in the first two years of their marriage. They traveled the world together. But after David’s adult children from his first marriage became involved in his company, things became complicated in terms of finances. Consequently, ongoing conflicts of interest became an issue in their marriage.

In other words, everyone only did what they could with what they knew at that time. It was nobody’s fault.

When you marry your partner, the love is real. When you divorce your partner, the absence of love is also real. Therefore, both decisions are right – both decisions are made according to the reality of specific circumstances.

Final Thoughts

There are three major signs of a loveless marriage, yet each problem has relevant solutions.

It’s important to try your best and then make peace with the rest. Good luck!

More About Marriage

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

Reference

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Jacqui Olliver

Psychosexual Relationship Specialist

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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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