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How to Fix a Broken Marriage And Save Your Relationship

How to Fix a Broken Marriage And Save Your Relationship

When you are a child and dream of your “happily ever after,” it never dawns on you that your marriage might not end up that way. I mean, let’s face it – all the Disney movies in the world never, ever hint to the fact that Cinderella and her Prince Charming would ever have any problems, right?

Well, Disney movies aren’t real life. Although we all know this on a conscious level, we still – in our hearts – hope that we will be the exception to the rule. We think that we will be one of the lucky ones who have a lifelong, happy marriage.

However, for many couples, it simply doesn’t happen. Why is that? Well, the reasons are many, which I will go into in a minute. But no one teaches us how to have a loving marriage. And if we didn’t see our parents living happily together, then we really have no model for it.

So, what if you find yourself in an unhappy marriage? How to fix a broken marriage and save your relationship?

Reasons that Lead to a Broken Marriage

I really wish all of us could take a class in school called Relationships 101. But no one is ever formally taught how to have a good marriage (or any relationship for that matter). What is the result? The result is that all of us just sort of fly by the seat of our pants and wing it when it comes to relationships. But if you want to have a happy, healthy, successful marriage, you can’t do that.

Here are some of the causes of a broken marriage.

Laziness

Everyone says relationships are hard and take a lot of hard work. Well, think about it. Anything in this life that is worth having takes effort, right? I mean, unless you win the lottery, you won’t become rich without hard work.

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Relationships are no different. You have to put in effort into your marriage. If you don’t, and are too lazy to keep it alive, it will die.

Selfishness

Many people are selfish to some extent. But when it comes at the price of a healthy marriage, then it’s a problem. You can’t always put your needs first. You have to put your partner’s needs at least equal to – or before – your own. Otherwise, resentment will keep building endlessly.

Neglect

This goes hand-in-hand with laziness and selfishness. If you are lazy and don’t put in effort, and you are constantly selfish, then you are neglecting your partner – and your relationship as a whole.

Relationships are like plants. If you don’t water a plant, it will die. If you neglect a marriage, it will eventually end as well.

Children

As much as we love them, children are hard on a marriage. If you are honest with yourself, you know it’s true. Children take a lot of time and energy – time and energy that could spent on your marriage. So, when couples don’t stay connected because children get in the way, then your marriage will break down.

Poor Communication Skills

Knowing how to talk to your partner to express your feelings and needs is essential. However, both people need to do the same and have empathy for the other person.

If empathy (the ability to identify with and see the other person’s point of view) doesn’t exist, then it’s virtually impossible to have a healthy marriage.

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How to Fix a Broken Marriage (without Couseling)

Sometimes, we feel hopeless when we’re in a bad marriage. You wonder if it is ever possible to rediscover the good relationship you had in the beginning. The answer is yes, but you have to put in some work.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have the financial means to go to counseling. However, if you do, I would suggest that as a first step.

Even if this is not an option, here are some steps you can try:

1. Take a Good Look at Yourself

It takes two to tango. I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before. In other words, problems in a relationship are rarely the sole responsibility of just one person.

Take a look at your behaviors and speculate how they might have contributed to the state of your marriage.

These tips are useful for you: How to Save a Marriage That Is Falling Apart

2. Take Responsibility for Your Own Actions

Now that you know what you did to contribute to your marital problems, own up to them. Tell your spouse how you feel, and then commit to changing your behavior immediately.

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3. Be Honest with Yourself and Your Spouse

Sometimes it’s easier to put your head in the sand and ignore the problems. But your marriage won’t get any better if you do this!

Sit down and be honest with yourself about the state of the marriage. Then, take your feelings to your spouse and have a deep, heart-to-heart talk.

4. Have a Talk

This is an obvious step, but it needs to be done. You can’t map out a plan for the future if you don’t even talk about your problems to begin with.

5. Each Partner Explains His/Her Perception of the Problems

Perception is reality

. In other words, your spouse probably sees the marriage in a very different way than you do. So, you need to listen to your partner’s point of view.

6. Just Listen

While your spouse is explaining their point of view, just listen to them. Don’t talk. Don’t interrupt them. Instead, stay calm and don’t get defensive.

7. Make a List of Things That Both People Want to Change

In order to rebuild your marriage, things obviously need to change – on both sides. So, both of you need to write down, and talk about, what needs to be changed in the marriage.

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8. Write out a “Contract”

It’s easy for people to say they are going to change, but it’s another thing for them to actually follow through with it. So, it’s best to write a “contract” between the two of you and sign it. This shows commitment to each other for change.

9. Spend Quality Time Together

You can’t rebuild your marriage if you aren’t spending time together! It seems obvious, but you need to rediscover each other, and spending quality time talking and doing things is imperative.

10. Ditch the Technology

Believe it or now, technology is a huge culprit in the downfall of relationships. Whether it’s the TV, cell phone, or video games, spending too much time with technology and not each other is the kiss of death. Make sure you put that down and talk to each other on a regular basis.

Can You Fix a Broken Marriage Alone?

This is a very common question that I am asked, which does not have an easy answer. In fact, my first instinct is to answer “it cannot be done.” I truly do believe it takes two committed people to rebuild a marriage. However, if you don’t have a willing spouse, you can try these steps if you are desperate enough to try to go it alone:

Take a Look Back at What Happened in the Marriage

Do a “relationship autopsy.” In other words, how did the marriage die? Just like a literal dead body is dissected after death, you can look at your marriage and see what went wrong.

If you find that a lot of the causes were because of YOU, then you can change your actions.

Notice Any Common Patterns That Have Emerged over the Years

Relationships always develop patterns. Some are good, and some are bad. So, you need to look for recurring themes in your marriage that may have gotten you into trouble. Once you identify them, try something new instead of repeating the same actions in the future.

Final Thoughts

Rebuilding a marriage is not easy, but it can be done. The easiest way to have a healthy relationship is to not let it break down in the first place. However, since that’s not an option, all the tips in this article will definitely put you both on the path to resurrecting what was lost.

More About Marriage

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

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Carol Morgan

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

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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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