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8 Important Lessons You Can Learn from a Failed Marriage

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8 Important Lessons You Can Learn from a Failed Marriage

Nobody says “I do” hoping that their marriage will fail. Yet, even with only seven out of every 1,000 couples walking down the aisle,[1] many marriages are still ending in divorce.

There are many signs that a relationship is on its way out, people just don’t catch them fast enough to save their marriages. This is bad news since research reveals what everyone who has been through a divorce already knows – divorce triggers psychological distress and a decline in life satisfaction.[2]

What are the signs that your relationship is unhappy? What can you do about a failed marriage? Is there anything you can learn from it? You will learn all of these in this article.

Signs of a Failing Marriage

You don’t have to experience a divorce to learn how to save your marriage. If you feel that you need marriage advice, look no further. Here are 14 signs of a failing marriage:

  • You feel annoyed to be in the same room together.
  • You’re always arguing.
  • You fantasize about being without your partner.
  • You often consider cheating on your spouse.
  • Conversations are awkward or overly formal.
  • You don’t enjoy spending time together.
  • You’re not happy, ever.
  • There is constant infidelity in the relationship.
  • You are always blaming one another for your problems.
  • You no longer communicate together.
  • Your sex life is dismal.
  • Your partner is verbally or physically abusive.
  • There is substance abuse in the marriage.
  • You’re only staying together for the kids.

How to Cope with a Failing Marriage

If any of the above sounds like your relationship, your marriage is definitely on the rocks.

Seek marriage counseling, open up the lines of communication, and commit to a weekly date night together. This has been proven to improve communication, intimacy, and reduce marital boredom. Couples who have a regular date night are also 20 percent less likely to get divorced.[3]

The relationship advice below will be useful for you too:

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What If Your Marriage Failed Already? 8 Lessons to Learn

Of course, it’s always good if you can save a marriage that is falling apart. But even if you failed to save it, there’re still lessons to learn from it:

1. Phones Can be a Killer

One thing that divorce will teach you is the importance of putting your phone away. Did you know that in a survey on phone use, 1 in 10 couples admitted to checking their smart device during sex?[4] A further 85 percent of surveyed smartphone users say they use their device while speaking to friends and family.[5]

Research shows that multitaskers (such as those who used their phones while watching television or trying to have a personal conversation) are less empathetic. MRI scans of their brains reveal less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, which controls cognitive and emotional control, as well as empathy.[6]

People who snub their partner to play on their phone (referred to as “phubbing” or “phone snubbing”) are at risk of divorce.[7] Phubbing as a term was coined as a part of campaign by Macquarie Dictionary, where phubbing is described as a habit of choosing to give more attention to mobile phone as opposed to the spouse or a friend.[8]

Studies show that phubbing directly contributes to a decline in marital satisfaction and an increase in depression. This behavior of snubbing someone over their mobile phone is the root cause of several relationship problems. The phubber makes the phubbee (victim of phubbing) feel ignored, disrespected and experience a stinging sense of relationship dissatisfaction and even hatred.

2. Gratitude Is Necessary

Studies reveal that partners who express gratitude for one another have greater relationship satisfaction.[9]

They also enjoy better communication, commitment, relationship investment, intimacy, support, and self-expansion. Gratitude in relationships promotes relationship satisfaction by prompting the partner who receives gratitude from one partner to replicate the gesture of generosity by signalling gratitude to their partner, who initiated this expression of gratitude.

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Expressing gratitude also prompts a sense of responsiveness and reciprocal behavior, where both partners respond to each other’s needs, willingly.

3. Communication Is Really Important

When soliciting marriage advice, we often hear that communication is the foundation of a great relationship and this is true.

Your level of communication determines how well you and your spouse will be able to resolve arguments, how deep your marital friendship is, and how vulnerable you are willing to be with one another. Studies also prove that great communication leads to great sex and increased orgasm frequency in women.[10]

In your next relationship, find someone who isn’t afraid to give you their undivided attention, listens to you without interrupting, looks for ways to solve problems as a team, and loves to talk to you about their day.

4. Your Happiness Matters

Focusing on your happiness or self-compassion is not shallow or selfish.

Of course, when you love someone, you want to spoil them emotionally and physically. You want to lavish them with attention, affection, and respect. These things come naturally. But until this happens, you must look out for your own interests.

Find someone who gets you, who respects you, and who makes you feel special. Find someone who makes you laugh. Studies show that couples who laugh together are more likely to stay together.[11] They also feel more supported and satisfied in their relationship.[12]

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However, it is important to note that you do not force laughter, and create more chances for spontaneous and shared laughter. Letting loose, revisiting places where you share laughter, playing fun couple games and creating inside jokes are few of the things to help you both break into spontaneous laughter and improve your relationship.

5. Know Your Deal Breakers

If you have experienced a failed marriage, odds are you know the exact qualities that you don’t want out of a future partner.

It is good to know what your deal breakers are. Instead of going into a relationship thinking you can change the habits that you don’t like, find someone who shares your passions.

For example, are you a spiritual person who wishes to be with someone who shares their beliefs? If so, don’t settle. Studies show that couples who share spirituality are more likely to view their relationship as special and treat their partners better than couples who do not share a religious (or “higher power”) viewpoint.[13]

6. You Can’t Change Someone

Big problems arise when partners believe that once they are married, their partner will change their bad habits.

Wrong! One of the biggest pieces of marriage advice is this: Bottom line, you can’t force your partner to change. Only they can do that.

If you are in a new relationship with someone, make sure you love their positive qualities and are perfectly able to tolerate the ones that aren’t so great. Because odds are, they aren’t changing anytime soon!

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7. Maintain Your Friendships

One of the biggest lessons you can learn from a breakup is the importance of maintaining your friendships.

When we get into a serious relationship, there is a tendency to push our friends and family to the side. We’re in love, after all. Naturally, we want to spend all of our time with our sweetheart. But consider this piece of marriage advice – if your relationship does not work out, who will be there to support you?

Studies show that the support you receive from friends and family after a divorce, breakup, or other trauma can actually lower psychological distress.[14] If you have not built and maintained strong relationships with your loved ones, you will feel very alone after a breakup.

8. Sex is Essential for a Happy Relationship

One telltale sign that your relationship was doomed was if sex was missing from your failed marriage. It may sound shallow to say that if you’re not having sex, you’re not having a great marriage. But consider these facts:

Sexual satisfaction is one of the highest predictors in emotional intimacy between couples.[15] Men also report feeling happier in their marriages when their wives are sexually satisfied. This emotional intimacy contributes to marital happiness and the overall friendship, security, and vulnerability you feel with your partner.

The oxytocin released during acts of physical intimacy is essential for a lasting marriage. The oxytocin hormone is responsible for reducing stress,[16] promoting bonding between partners, raising trust,[17] and can reduce anxiety and act as a natural antidepressant for women.[18]

Final Thoughts

By following this marriage advice, you can learn the telltale signs that your marriage is failing so you can try to save it earlier. You can even prevent your next relationship from falling apart again by learning the cause of a failed marriage.

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A failed marriage doesn’t mean that love isn’t in the cards for you, but it’s important to learn from the mistakes of the past relationships.

Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] OECD – Social Policy Division – Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs: Marriage and Divorce Rate
[2] J Fam Psychol: Breaking Up is Hard to do: The Impact of Unmarried Relationship Dissolution on Mental Health and Life Satisfaction
[3] W. Bradford Wilcox & Jeffrey Drew : The Date Night Opportunity
[4] Microsoft Word: The Attachment Problem: Cellphone Use In America
[5] Bank My Cell: Smartphone Addiction Facts & Phone Usage Statistics
[6] EurekAlert: Brain scans reveal ‘gray matter’ differences in media multitaskers
[7] Personality and Individual Differences: Partner phubbing and depression among married Chinese adults: The roles of relationship satisfaction and relationship length
[8] Macquarie Dictionary: Ever been phubbed?
[9] Psychological Assessment: Personality strengths in romantic relationships: Measuring perceptions of benefits and costs and their impact on personal and relational well-being.
[10] Journal of Martial and Family Therapy: The Role of Sexual Communication in Couples’ Sexual Outcomes: A Dyadic Path Analysis
[11] Evolutionary Psychology: Sexual Selection and Humor in Courtship: A Case for Warmth and Extroversion
[12] Laura E. Kurtz & Sara B. Algoe: Putting laughter in context: Shared laughter as behavioral indicator of relationship well‐being
[13] Soc Sci Res.: Living and Loving “Decent”: Religion and Relationship Quality among Urban Parents
[14] Pers Relatsh.: Understanding Associations among Family Support, Friend Support, and Psychological Distress.
[15] J Sex Marital Ther. : Couple communication, emotional and sexual intimacy, and relationship satisfaction.
[16] J Health Soc Behav.: Is Sex Good for Your Health? A National Study on Partnered Sexuality and Cardiovascular Risk Among Older Men and Women
[17] Nature: Oxytocin increases trust in humans.
[18] Biol Psychol.: Blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penile-vaginal intercourse than for people who had other or no sexual activity.

More by this author

Sylvia Smith

Sylvia is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt its principles in their relationships.

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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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