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18 Pieces of Marriage Advice for a Happy and Lasting Relationship

18 Pieces of Marriage Advice for a Happy and Lasting Relationship

When we were growing up, no one told us that marriage was going to take work. I think most people assumed that you would:

(A) Find someone you are compatible with

(B) Have fun with them

(C) Fall in love

(D) Get married

(E) Live happily ever after…

As we got older, we realized that the path to a happy marriage isn’t always easy. It takes time, attention, and sometimes… a lot of work. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a healthy relationship.

The number one most important thing is that you BOTH have a commitment to each other and prioritize making the marriage the best it can be.

Many of us grew up with parents who didn’t model a good marriage. Some parents fight loudly, while others just avoid conflict and then silence ensues in the household; neither of these extremes is healthy.

If we didn’t see “how” to have a good marriage growing up, it’s much more difficult to figure it out on your own later in life. So, if you are one of those people who didn’t learn how to have a happy relationship from their parents, you are not alone.

Let’s start by talking about the most important things in a marriage:

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1. Trust

Unfortunately, trust is something that is hard to come by sometimes. People usually have one of two approaches:

(1) I don’t trust you until you prove that you are trustworthy, or (2) I trust you until you prove that you are untrustworthy.

Either way, trust is crucial to a happy marriage.

2. Respect

Both spouses must treat the other one with respect and kindness. That means never speaki ng in a mean or derogatory manner, nor engaging in any kind of mental, emotional, or physical abuse.

You must treat them like the Golden Rule – “treat others they way you would like to be treated.”

3. Friendship

Many romantic relationships do not start out as friendships, but some do. Regardless of whether you are friends first or not, the best marriages are the ones that claim to be best friends. That’s the kind of relationship where each person has the other’s back and are able to talk to and confide in their spouse completely.

4. Companionship

In order to have a healthy relationship, you have to enjoy spending time together.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to spend 24/7 with each other attached at the hip. But it does mean that you two enjoy doing activities together on a regular basis. They are your constant “built-in” companion.

5. Compatibility

Compatibility occurs on many, many different levels. From personality differences (introvert/extrovert), to hobbies, likes/dislikes, religion, politics, and other values, it is important to be as compatible as possible.

Although they say, “opposites attract,” I believe that similarity is one of the most important ingredients to a good marriage.

6. Love

There are many different kinds of love – from the kind you have to a pet, your child, or your grandma – to the romantic type that makes you fall madly in love. And I don’t mean infatuation, because that fades.

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Being “in love” with your partner does not have to fade. It can, and should, last forever.

7. Kindness

Beyond the obvious (speaking and acting kindly), it’s important to extend your kindness to one another by doing the “little things.”

Simple acts of kindness go a long way. Rubbing her shoulders or bringing him coffee are small things, but it shows that you love the other person. So, don’t underestimate the power of the small gestures of kindness.

8. Sexual Intimacy

Everyone has their own level of sex drive, so it’s important to find a partner who matches your own. Some people don’t need a lot of sex, but others do for both physical and emotional reasons.

Don’t overlook the fact that if you are not sexually in sync, it could be a huge reason the marriage doesn’t work out.

9. Emotional Intimacy

Emotional intimacy is just as important as sexual intimacy and compatibility. Even if a couple has sex every day, that doesn’t always mean that there is a lot of emotional intimacy between them.

Without the emotional connection, the relationship becomes distant and cold. So, don’t forget to nurture your feelings and love for one another.

10. Communication

If you have problems (which most couples do), you can’t solve them without talking to one another. And I don’t mean yelling and screaming. I mean sitting down rationally and speaking about both of your concerns. You need to keep that line of communication open at all times.

Here’re some tips to help you: How to Improve Communication in Relationships and Increase Intimacy

Now that we have discussed some of the most important things in a marriage, let’s push the discussion even further and talk about some other crucial things that make a marriage good:

11. Putting Your Spouse as a Priority

Your spouse cannot be happily married to you if they feel like they are a low priority on your list.

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Whether you put the kids, work, your friends, or anything else in front of your spouse, it will not turn out well. You need to make each other your top priority.

12. Spending Time Together

I know life can get very busy for most people, but it’s vital that you find time to spend together – alone. Not that it’s not fun to hang out as a family with the kids or with friends, but that’s not quality time with each other.

Make regular date nights and make an effort to do it all the time.

13. Talking and Connecting

The time spent together should be quality. Sure, you could sit in your living room all alone with each other (which is spending time together), but if you are both on your phones, or even if you’re watching TV, you are not really connecting.

So, don’t forget to talk to each other and keep up that connection you had when you first started dating.

14. Shared Values

As I mentioned above, it is really important for you both to share similar values. That doesn’t mean that you have to be identical, but you do have to view the world through lenses that are compatible with one another.

For example, an extreme right-winger and an extreme left-winger are probably not going to see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues in the world. I think you get my point.

15. Mutual Plans for the Future

Do you want kids? If so, how many? How do you want to plan for retirement? What do you want to do in retirement? Where do you want to live? Do you want to travel?

All of these questions are important so that you can have a shared vision of what your future together will look like.

Next, how do you deal with a struggling marriage? When you are unhappy in your marriage, what are you supposed to do about it? No one gives us a rule book about how to fix a broken relationship, right? So, here are some tips for how you can start to heal your marriage:

16. Talk about Your Problems

You can’t change, or fix, what you don’t recognize. So, talk to each other about your problems – don’t avoid conflict.

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But when you talk, be rational and have empathy for your spouse. Try to see the situation from their perspective, not just yours. I cannot stress how important empathy is to a healthy marriage!

17. Rediscover Commitment

Some people “give up” in an unhappy marriage. They mentally and emotionally just “check out.” But you can’t do that!

BOTH people need to be 100% committed to fixing the relationship. One person can’t do it on their own. So, you need to talk and commit to making the necessary changes for the relationship to rebuild.

18. Seek Professional Help

Many people simply can’t do this on their own because they don’t have the necessary skills. That’s where a trained professional can help you.

Don’t feel like a failure if you seek out a therapist or marriage counselor. In fact, you are the opposite – you are winners for trying your best to save the marriage. It’s a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness!

Final Thoughts

If you are in an unhappy marriage, don’t be discouraged. There are many relationships that have come back from the brink of destruction, and yours can too.

And if you’re not yet married, I hope you will take this marriage advice to heart when trying to find the right partner (or wondering if the one you’re with is “it”).

Marriage doesn’t have to be difficult – it’s the people who make it hard. So, just remember these tips, and you can finally have the happily ever after that you’ve always dreamed about.

Featured photo credit: Alvin Mahmudov via unsplash.com

More by this author

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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