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8 Important Lessons You Can Learn from a Failed Marriage

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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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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