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Published on December 19, 2019

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

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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 March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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