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10 Secret Tools Happy Couples Use For A Strong Relationship

10 Secret Tools Happy Couples Use For A Strong Relationship
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Have you seen that photo? The one with a picture of an elderly couple hand in hand?

I have seen variations on that same photo many times and when I was younger, I wondered if I would be one of those people still walking hand in hand with my husband long after the sound of wedding bells had faded.

Well, here we are 25 years later and our marriage is still going strong. I have to think that we have passed most of the major milestones in a marriage that is supposed to last until death do us part, and I have some secret tools to share with you.

There are certain things that keep a marriage together and things that tear it apart. You have seen many marriages end in divorce. You don’t have to be afraid that that will happen to you. You and your spouse may have rough times but if you both want to keep it together, you will.

For now here are some of the best kept secret tools that happy couples use to keep their unions strong.

1. They really get to know each other every day of their lives.

People change and they change every day. Our experiences change our views and our views change our behavior. Many people are in a relationship with the person they knew years ago. They don’t see that the person has changed. Sometime later, they look up and realize that they don’t know this person any more. This happens over time but sometimes it takes years to realize it. Sometimes that realization comes too late.

Couples who want to ensure that their marriage endures must look at each other anew on a daily basis and get to know that new person. Look at his or her life and try to see it through their eyes. This can give you a little more understanding of what is going through the other person’s mind when they do the things that they do.

Where there is more understanding, there are less reasons to get upset. Being able to fully understand someone is a valuable tool in any relationship.

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2. They are realistic and understand that people make mistakes.

Life can be very difficult at times and it can be confusing. If you are not paying attention, you can make a mistake that could easily tear apart your marriage and your lives. Even the most aware person can fall into social traps and hurt someone they love.

A friend of mine recently came to me asking for advice about whether she should divorce her husband. He had made a very bad mistake. It was a huge betrayal to my friend and her family. It was tough because she really loved this man.

After listening to her and seeing how her husband was completely beside himself with guilt and upset for what he had done, I advised her that it was her decision but in my opinion that if she did forgive him, the rewards could be great. She also knew that if she did forgive him, he would have to make amends to his family which he did willingly. Their marriage was saved.

It took some time and my friend had to work through a lot of hurt feelings and pain before she could feel normal again. But they both worked to restore their trust, their relationship and it worked. She and her husband are still together and their kids did not have to experience the horrible nightmare of having their parents divorce.

With the above in mind, understand that there are people who refuse to own up to mistakes and therefore repeat hurtful behavior. If you are married to someone like this please take a close look at your situation and see if it is destructive to you.

3.They never, ever cheat on their spouses.

If you want to torpedo your marriage and destroy your spouse, go ahead and cheat. In a previous marriage I had this happen to me and I can tell you that it is the most devastating thing you could ever do to another human being. It is akin to plunging a knife in the heart of your best friend. Don’t do it.

If you refrain out of love and respect for your spouse, great. If not, understand that love and relationships are very emotional for just about everyone. “Crimes of Passion” are not unusual when a person betrays his or her spouse.

4. They allow each other to disagree.

Even in the best marriage, you and your spouse may not agree on everything. Hopefully, you do agree on the important issues. If not, you do have to come to some agreement on them in order to continue.

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Understand that when you disagree with something, it is destructive to keep harping on it and trying to get the other to agree with you. It is best at that point to “agree to disagree” and allow your spouse to keep his or her viewpoint.

If you love each other, you already have many, many things in common. Take up points of agreement and leave the points of disagreement behind.

Additionally if you do have arguments or disagreements with your spouse, do not call each other names and say hurtful things. Those have an effect and the damage cannot be undone by saying you are sorry. These little courtesies should be set as rules if you want your relationship to last.

5. Point out the great things about their spouse.

I know after time, you may start to see only the things about your spouse that you feel need to change. Instead of seeing only those things, seek out the things he or she does that you love, and really make a big deal of it. You would be surprised at how they react. Everybody wants to be ensured that they are right way more than they are wrong. Give them that gift. This alone, done by both parties could completely rekindle a lost love.

Don’t forget that bragging about how great your spouse is to others is important as well. Some people may think it is boastful but it makes me really respect the person doing it. If they talk in glowing terms about their spouse, I can bet that they talk about others in glowing terms as well. This is the mark of a great person.

6. They listen to each other.

Disagreements are stressful for any marriage but they don’ t have to tear you apart. If your spouse is seriously upset, and it is something they’ve been trying to get you to handle. please handle it. Pick up your socks or balance your checkbook if it is an issue. Handle any repeating problem so that it doesn’t cause anymore resentment. Living together is tough and courtesy is  important.

Acknowledge that the person is upset. It can be as easy as saying “Wow! I can see that you are really upset about this!” Then listen to what they are trying to tell you. Don’t engage with them or make them feel wrong for being upset, listen and see if you can help them handle the problem. You would be amazed at how fast a situation or potential fight can be defused just by acknowledging their feelings and being willing to try and help the person handle it.

 

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7. They go out of their way to do nice things for each other.

It takes so little to make someone happy. Stopping by the store and getting his favorite ice cream or giving her a sweet card that says something nice is so appreciated and so easy.

Recently I had to take a sick leave for a surgery and was overwhelmed by the love I got from the kids in the music class that I teach. Their tokens of affection were things like pictures, homemade cards and things they learned to make in school.  My favorite was a rose that one of my students picked from his garden. He then took off all of the thorns for me. It must have taken time and care to get every last thorn but he did! Those types of gifts are priceless and strengthens your love for one another in your relationship.

8. They stay in communication.

One of the most important things you can do to keep any relationship strong is communication. Most often arguments start because there has been some form of miscommunication.  There are many decisions made on a daily basis and being married, some of them affect both you and your spouse. Whenever there is a decision like this, I text my husband and let him know. It can be simple decisions like what to have for dinner or the fact that you have a few extra minutes so you picked up the kids early. Communication is the back bone of a marriage and more communication is always better.

Having dinner together is a very important way to keep the communication strong in a family. If your schedules do not permit a dinner together, set time aside daily to come together and regroup. This is a vital time for the entire family.  Also realize that communication about unhappy things should be balanced out by communication of happy things.

Communication is the glue that holds families together.

9. They protect and stand up for each other.

Even the most perfect marriage with two very loving partners can be torn apart by open or underhanded attacks on one spouse to the other. A stereotypical example is the meddling relative who takes the husband aside and tears down his wife behind her back. It could also be coming from another person who has a romantic interest in one or the other spouse.

These are vicious attacks on the spouse, the marriage, and the family unit including the children. It destroys marriages and those who want to keep their families will recognize it for the assault that it is and put an end to the attacks immediately. I have known several people whose in-laws have mercilessly torn them down to their spouse and it has completely destroyed their marriage.

Attacks may not always be outright and overt. Most of the time they are barbed and critical comments delivered as a means to “help” or “educate” the person under attack. It undermines the validity and intelligence of the victim to those around him or her and erodes their self confidence and self respect. It is a cowardly and underhanded form of bullying. It takes courage to stand up to this type of abuse but if you don’t, you will lose your spouse and your self respect.

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10. They each live their own lives.

I am sure you have met someone who is needy. I remember girlfriends who would sit by the phone waiting for their boyfriend to call. They also felt incomplete or helpless without a man. These people put themselves in a very precarious situation. If your whole world is someone else and that person leaves, your world is gone.

I have never seen happy people in that type of situation. Sooner or later, the other person feels suffocated by the neediness of their partner and the relationship ends.  The strongest marriages I know are built on mutual respect and SPACE. Each partner having time with other friends or different interests is important.

I have always said that a person’s life is like a cake and the love relationship is like the frosting. Without the cake, the frosting has nothing on which to stand.

My advice to those who are unhappy and think that a man or woman will make them happy is to find happiness first and then find the man or woman of your dreams. In other words, make your cake first and then find your frosting. I believe that this is the only way it will work.

I have given you a lot to think abut here and I hope you read this article a few times over and start practicing using the tools. They are quite valuable and they make you a very valuable person to have around. Anyone who can handle personal relations is a very powerful person. Getting proficient with these tools can give you the power to chart the course of your marriage without relying on luck to see you through.

Go have a great life and create a great marriage and family!

Good luck!

Featured photo credit: Image of woman and man kissing each other outside via shutterstock.com

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Chris Ellis

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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