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10 Relationship Questions Every Couple Needs to Ask Themselves

10 Relationship Questions Every Couple Needs to Ask Themselves

Every now and then, it’s a good idea to do a ‘health check’ on your relationship. When we neglect our relationships, problems can arise and before long you may realize that you aren’t getting along as well as before. In order to nurture closeness and be sure that you are in the right relationship, rather than just going through the motions, ask yourselves the following questions to gauge whether or not you are still on the right track.

1) Do you and your partner fight or argue with increasing frequency?

If you are arguing more than usual, ask yourself what the source if the conflict is. Nip it in the bud and deal with it before it becomes a bigger problem. Letting problems stick around can lead to resentment and a loss of loving feelings towards one another.

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2) Do you feel that your emotional needs are not being met?

This question is very important. If either of you feel your emotional needs are not being met, now is the time to change things. When emotional needs are not being met, it has a destructive effect on the relationship. We start assuming that the other person doesn’t care, and we begin to do less for our partners with an attitude of, “they don’t do it for me, so why should I do it for them?” This inevitably will lead to bigger problems. Sit down with your partner and make a list of three to five things that they can do to meet your emotional needs. Make an effort to incorporate those actions listed as often as possible to restore goodwill in the relationship.

3) Are you physically frustrated in your relationship?

Affection is part of the whole package. A complete lack of touch and affection leads to a disconnection whether you realize it or not. If all tactile behavior has ceased, make an effort to give one another a foot rub or shoulder rub. Tap them on the shoulder as you walk by–focus on touch to reconnect and feel closer. If sex is non-existent, talk about it and re-introduce touch slowly. Begin with baby steps–be sure not to pressure you partner.

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4) Do you think that your partner places their job or other priorities ahead of you?

When we don’t feel important in a relationship, our thinking begins to change and we find ways to feel important in other ways. Often these ways can be non-productive and lead to more problems. Discuss your feelings with your partner–they may not even realize how you feel. Try to compromise and find ways to work around the circumstances so that you may feel important again. Everyone likes an attentive partner. Consider too, whether this situation is temporary and calls for a little patience in the short term.

5) Do you feel that you are being used?

If you feel used on some level, this suggests a trust issue. Trust your instincts. If your partner ignores your needs and always puts themselves first, it’s not a good sign. Every relationship requires give and take in order to survive.

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6) Do you feel there is more to life than that which you are living in this relationship?

Are you feeling restless? Do you look around at other people and fantasize about being in another relationship? Sometimes we do this when we are angry with our partner, but if this is developing into a regular behavioral pattern, it suggests that there are underlying issues. Ask yourself whether there are things you could be doing together as a couple. Make the effort to do something fun at least once a month to keep the fire alive

7) Have you had to stop being yourself in order to keep the peace in the relationship?

When you stop being yourself, you start living a lie. When a partner tries to change you consistently, they are sending you a message that you are not good enough as you are. Trying to be someone you’re not is a losing game–you need to be loved for who you essentially are. That is what we all wish for. You can’t change your character, but you can compromise and change some behaviors–know the difference.

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8) Is guilt a major factor in your relationship?

Do you stay in your relationship out of guilt? Do you feel a duty to stay for some reason? If you aren’t staying out of love and friendship it might be time to question your motives. Guilt is never a good reason to continue a relationship and the long term prospects of a relationship based on guilt are not good.

9) Do you feel that you give while your partner takes?

Who makes all the effort in the relationship? Every relationship, without exception needs to be nurtured. I like to think of relationships like gardens. If you don’t tend to them, ‘weeds’ start to grow. If you feel that you are the only one that legitimately works on the relationship, it’s time to have a heart-to-heart chat. Often, there could just be a miscommunication and once the topic has been discussed, you can both find ways to feel that equal effort is being rendered.

10) Are you in this relationship today simply because it feels safe and allows you to stay in your comfort zone?

I have come across many people who stay in relationships, not because they are happy, but because it is all they know. They stay out of fear of the unknown. Don’t allow self limiting beliefs to stop you from leading a full life. Be brave. Get out there and make sure that you are living the best possible life for you.

Relationships take work. Two unique individuals with their different personalities, backgrounds and preferences always makes for an interesting mix. Compromise, communication and consideration go a long way to keeping a relationship healthy. Develop your own interests and you’ll have more to bring to the relationship. Above all, have fun and communicate regularly. All too often we make assumptions about what our other half is thinking, and this is often wrong. We get annoyed, assume and then become angry. Speak openly, express your feelings and above all make time for lighthearted activities. Too many chores and too much monotony and routine are never good for a relationship. Go out and have some fun together!

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Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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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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