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10 Secret Tools Happy Couples Use For A Strong Relationship

10 Secret Tools Happy Couples Use For A Strong Relationship

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

Successful Author, Life Coach and Musician

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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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