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Published on December 25, 2020

25 Pieces of Marriage Advice All Loving Couples Follow

25 Pieces of Marriage Advice All Loving Couples Follow

In an ever-changing world, today’s married couples have faced many challenges that previous generations have never had to face. The tips, tricks, and marriage advice offered by relationship experts in the past have become outdated in the face of these new challenges. Thus, couples today often feel that they are on their own when trying to figure out how to create a happy and loving marriage.

When looking for marriage advice, it would make sense if newlywed couples sought out guidance from older married couples that exemplified successful relationships. However, a study by Sheela Kennedy and Stephen Ruggles out of the University of Minnesota showed that it is actually older married couples who are contributing to the rise in divorce rates in the United States.[1]

This dilemma creates a void of successful role models for couples struggling in their relationships.

Having worked with couples daily for nearly twenty years, it has been observed that healthy couples and unhealthy couples follow similar patterns and engage in similar behaviors that either contribute to happiness or unhappiness together.

Regardless of the marriage advice received, healthy and happy couples tend to invest more in their relationships than those rating their relationship as unhappy and unhealthy. Specifically, there appear to be twenty-five things that successful, loving couples do that contributes to overall happiness and success in their marriage.

1. Have Physical Affection Everyday

It would seem that giving physical affection to your spouse is a simple and common sense thing to do in your marriage. However, you would be surprised as to how many couples go day after day without physical contact. This kind of physical contact is nonsexual in nature and is as simple as holding each other’s hands or hugging each other. Loving couples make it point to be physically affectionate with each other at least once a day.

2. Have a Common Vision of the Future

Another often overlooked marriage advice is to have a common vision. When companies are formed, they often create a vision statement of what they want their future to look like. This vision statement helps focus everyone working at the company on what they are creating together and the direction they are heading towards. Similarly, loving couples have a clear vision of what they want their marriage to look like in the future.

3. Be Transparent

Being honest in your marriage is one thing most couples would agree is necessary to building and maintaining trust in a relationship. However, transparency takes honesty to a whole new level.

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Being transparent implies that there are no secrets between you and your partner—not even keeping passwords to bank accounts, emails, social media accounts, or even keeping phone lockout screens private. Loving couples seem to do this naturally, ensuring a strong trust bond.

4. Create Face to Face Time

Most couples think that spending quality time together includes watching their favorite shows together or spending time with good friends on a night on the town. Although these activities can be enjoyable, spending time alone together doing an activity where partners have to face each other activates a whole different level of intimacy and bonding that most couples neglect to nurture.

According to John Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert, loving couples spend over 5 hours of quality time together per week.

5. Make Sexual Intimacy Important

It would surprise most people to learn that many couples struggle with a lack of sexual intimacy. According to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior the frequency of sexual intimacy has declined amongst American married couples.[2]

Moreover, it has been estimated in a study in the Journal of Marriage and Family that almost 15% of American couples are living in a sexless marriage, which is defined as having sex less than twice per year.[3] It goes without saying that a lack of sexual intimacy in marriage points to a serious issue that can contribute to the end of the marriage if not addressed. Loving couples make their sexual life a priority in their marriage.

6. Experience New Things

Another key marriage advice for couples is to try out and experience new things. Everybody says that spontaneity is the “spice of life”, and healthy marriages are not exempt. Couples need to try new things and have new experiences to continue growing together. It is these new experiences that give loving couples new topics to talk about and share.

7. Laugh Together

Humor is such a powerful emotion that it facilitates bonding in a marriage. Couples who enjoy each other’s company and can laugh together build upon their foundation of trust and respect for one another. Laughter truly can be the ‘best medicine” and loving couples get a lot of it.

8. Have Common Spiritual Beliefs

In a study in the Journal of Family Psychology, it was found that couples that shared in religious or spiritual activities together with a shared meaning found more satisfaction in their marriage.[4] It should be said that although couples with different spiritual beliefs can still have a healthy marriage, this area can become a point of contention especially when children are involved. Loving couples encourage, develop, and share in this essential part of a marriage and pass these beliefs onto their children.

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9. Be Best Friends

This may be the most common marriage advice in the current generation of couples—be best friends. Friendship in a marriage is just as important as all other parts of a marriage. Along with laughter, healthy married couples enjoy spending time with each other and consider each other their best friend.

Even couples who enter into marriage with best friends from their past convert their spouse into their new best friend. In this way, loving couples always see their spouse as their best friend for life.

10. Keep the Marital Bed Sacred

This applies to married couples who are parents with little children. It is customary for small kids to come to their parents’ bed from time to time when they are scared of the dark or when they don’t feel well. However, many parents “cosleep” with their children consistently. Thus, couples spend many nights apart from each other and don’t even sleep in the same bed with each other. This can take a toll on physical affection and sexual intimacy. Loving couples maintain a sacred space in their bed for each other.

11. Show Small Gestures of Love and Consideration

It is said that “it is all about the little things”, and this is true in loving marriages. Couples who are happy in their relationship make an effort to consistently show love and consideration for their partner through small gestures, such as bringing their partner a cup of coffee, leaving a positive post-it note, or picking up their favorite scented candle from the store.

12. Surprise Each Other

Surprises can come in all different forms, but for the most part, couples who surprise their partner with a gift or fun experience, for example, tend to be happier in their marriage. Taking your partner on a surprise trip or to see their favorite band perform adds a bit of excitement and mystery in a good way. Loving couples see surprises as a way to show their love for one another in a fun and exciting way.

13. Take Something Off Their Plate

In our busy lives, we are often overwhelmed by all our obligations. This can be very stressful for ourselves and our partners. Loving couples can observe that their partner is stressed and take the initiative to step in and alleviate some of the stress by taking something off their plate, such as doing the dishes or running their errands.

14. Create Together

Another important marriage advice is to create things together. Creating a project, a piece of music or even a piece of artwork can be an extremely satisfying experience, and it helps us feel alive. Healthy and loving couples create together, whether that be working in the garden, remodeling their house, or cooking together. This helps them feel like a team and proud of what they have accomplished as partners.

15. Have Common Interests

Loving couples enjoy spending time together and enjoy that time more when they share in common activities. Even if the activity is something that only one enjoys more than the other, the act of engaging in the activity together creates mutual support and facilitates couple bonding.

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16. Support Each Other’s Personal Time

As much as couple time is important, each person in the relationship should have personal time. This time is not spent running errands or spent with friends, but it is time for the individual to process their own feelings and priorities in life. Loving couples support their partner’s personal time and encourage it as it adds to the strength in the relationship.

17. Create Time Away Together

Many couples feel guilty about going on trips together, especially when they have to leave behind their children with family or friends. Often, this results in “family vacations” but not time away together alone. Loving couples make sure to create trips away together in addition to family trips.

18. Do Date Night

Every couple has heard of date night together. However, very few make date nights a consistent part of their marriage. It is easy to justify rescheduling date nights when obligations with children and family become more of a priority in a couple’s life. Loving couples, however, understand that if they do not make their relationship the number one priority, it can erode the structure of the entire family.

19. Share Your Vulnerability

Another key marriage advice is to share your vulnerability. Sharing vulnerable emotions is not the most pleasant thing to do with your spouse. However, it is necessary to strengthen the marital bond and help them grow together. Loving couples balance having fun together and sharing their vulnerability because they see the value it brings to their overall relationship.

20. Balance Giving and Receiving

They say that relationships are about “give and take.” It seems that loving couples do more than just that. They can balance giving and receiving with their partner. This is always a tricky thing to do since it involves not taking your partner for granted and keeping them at the forefront of your intentions. It also takes being gracious about receiving from your partner and being open to it.

21. Respect Your Spouse’s Family

Comedians have made entire careers off of mother-in-law jokes and although in-law conflict is often a real thing, it is far from being humorous. Showing respect for your spouse’s family can be very tricky, especially if a conflict existed before you came into the picture and especially if your spouse has a contentious relationship with them, to begin with.

This is also especially difficult if you dislike your in-laws. However, loving couples follow a good rule of thumb of showing respect to their in-laws while also supporting their spouse. This marriage advice might be a no brainer, but it’s important nonetheless.

22. Have Good Boundaries with Friends

External friendships can take a lot of energy to maintain. When balancing the amount of energy and attention needed daily to nurture a loving relationship, external friendships can sometimes put a strain on a marriage. Loving couples set appropriate boundaries with friends that don’t take away from their marriage.

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23. Utilize Discretion

You may have had the experience of being around another person that speaks badly about their spouse behind their back. This is not only detrimental to the marriage but also prevents the couple from working on their problems and focuses on seeking validation for their position from others. Loving couples realize that problems will arise in any marriage and utilize discretion when talking about their spouse negatively so they can work on their issues in private.

24. Say “I Love You”

Couples show their love in many different ways. However, some couples often neglect to express it in the simple words, “I love you.” Saying this out loud never loses its impact, and loving couples know that over time, it can mean even more as their love develops.

25. Verbalize Appreciation

One of the needs we have as human beings is to feel appreciated, and this is even more important in marriage. Loving couples not only show appreciation towards each other but also verbalize that appreciation.

Final Thoughts

Given these specific behaviors of loving couples, it would appear that marriage advice can be taken from what loving couples are currently doing and not from what the experts used to say.

Happy, healthy, and loving marriages in today’s society have adapted to the new challenges by adopting new bonding behaviors that ensure love and a true connection. It would also seem that the adage is incorrect—that if everyone else is doing it, you and your spouse probably should, too.

More Marriage Advice

Featured photo credit: Alex Blăjan via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dr. Ray Kadkhodaian

CoFounder of Couples Synergy and the Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center

25 Pieces of Marriage Advice All Loving Couples Follow

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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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