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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.

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.

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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 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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