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10 Things About Marriage You Wish You’d Known As a Newlywed

10 Things About Marriage You Wish You’d Known As a Newlywed

Too many people go into a marriage thinking that it’s going to be great fun and not much different that any old long-term relationship. Living together with another person, who is both a lover and friend, has its ups and downs, and it is certainly a whole lot different than regular dating. Experience comes with time and plenty of couples eventually learn to live in relative harmony with each other, but it always helps to get a basic understanding of what you are getting into beforehand. With a few years of dating, five years of marriage under my belt and a beautiful daughter to show for it, I have learned a few things about marriage that people don’t tell you when you are young. Here is a list of ten things I wish I knew as a newlywed, as they would have saved me plenty of time and nerves.

1. Living with a partner can be much more difficult than you think.

Moving in together

    In the beginning, i.e. your first year or so together, it can all seem like sunshine and rainbows between the two of you. Your relationship is still fresh, you are slowly learning about each other, you have sex all the time and you spend some time away from one another regularly, so every time you see each other, there is plenty to talk about. However, once you start spending all or most of your free time with someone and living under the same roof, you suddenly become a strange mixture of friends, family and roommates.

    The thing is, you are both used to a certain lifestyle and like things to be a certain way, which can cause a bit of a problem if you aren’t able to back down. My wife and I had plenty of arguments about choosing the right color for the walls or arranging furniture, and there will always be debates about leaving the toilet seat up, throwing towels on the floor, not doing the dishes after a meal, etc. Just know that these things are a part of being married and that both of you will need to change a few things about yourself, which takes a bit of work.

    2. You’ll need to learn to handle constant meddling and tips from your family.

    Everyone will want to give you some advice, whether they have been there and done that and know some things about marriage or have just heard of a study on TV or read something online. Your single friends will get on your nerves from time to time with gems of wisdom on married life, and although you’ll know they just want to help, it won’t make things any less frustrating. When it comes to meddling and unsolicited advice, the worst offenders are the in-laws. We all know how difficult our parents can get, particularly if you come from a cultural background where families like to stick together and everyone abides by the “it takes a village to raise a child” mentality.

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    Now imagine having to deal with two sets of parents who don’t seem to realize that you are grown adults and insist on giving you advice on everything from basic things like doing your laundry and choosing furniture, to important issues related to planning your future. The way my wife and I deal with such meddling, apart from occasionally reverting to sarcasm or losing our temper, is to acknowledge their input and agree to consider their suggestion as a valid option. Shutting off your brain, nodding politely and letting them finish their tirade, followed by a quick change of subject is also a great strategy.

    3. The question about having a baby will be brought up by others frequently.

    This ties into the last paragraph, but is a big enough issue that it deserves its own place on this list. Not a month will go by after you’ve exchanged your vows and people will already start to give you the old “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” routine, asking if their might be a third family member on its way any time soon. Comments can be simple, like when our friends commented on us buying a house: “A beautiful home—spacious too. Plenty of room for one or two more (nudging and winking go without saying),” or even serious and somewhat worried inquires like when my parents asked us when we were planning to have our first kid.

    This kind of behavior is understandable—after all, your folks are getting older and want to have a chance to play with their grand kids while they still have plenty of life energy left—but it is incredibly infuriating. You will feel like you are being pressured, like it is expected of you, but ultimately, it is your decision whether you want to have kids now, later or ever for that matter. Take your time, get settled in and when the right time comes, the two of you will come to a mutual decision.

    4. Married sex often lacks spontaneity and you’ll need to work at keeping the passion alive.

    All the movie clichés and standup comedy routines aside, married sex becomes less spontaneous and more predictable over time. It can be both one of the best and one of the worst things about marriage—you fall into a routine and because you know each other so well you start approaching the subject casually. Young couple sex comes straight out of the bloom, gets hot and heavy quickly, with very few words spoken or can be a long and delightful game of teasing leading into a big finale. Married sex can sometimes come down to:

    Person one: “Wanna do it?

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    Person two: “Are you that horny? I’ve got to be at work in an hour, and we haven’t even had breakfast yet.”

    Person one: “Oh, come on, there is plenty of time.”

    Person two: “Alright, alright, we’ll just have to be quick. And you’re making breakfast afterwards.”

    There is nothing inherently wrong with a bit of routine or scheduling sex around your daily obligations, but by breaking the taboo and being somewhat formal about it can kill the passion to an extent. Married couples need to pick up a few tricks and learn to keep sex interesting. You can role-play, dress up in sexy costumes, try something different or schedule a romantic evening where you court each other and take things nice and slow. It is just something you’ll need to work on.

    5. You’ll need to accept that you and your partner enjoy different things.

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    Dissinterested couple

      While having a lot of things in common can bring the two of you together, it’s impossible to have the exact same hobbies and interests as another person. Your significant other might be somewhat of a slob and you may be a bit of a control and hygiene freak. One partner may enjoy listening to loud music while doing chores around the house and the other might prefer peace and quiet. You might enjoy most of the same things, but hate the fact that your partner watches a boring and predictable TV shows that just has to be on every single night. They are probably aware of all the plot holes, broken laws of physics, quasi science and faulty logic, but enjoy the show regardless, so pointing all these things out serves no purpose. Learn to accept your partner’s interests and be tolerant of them—you don’t have to like the same things, but don’t complain about the things they like and try to be supportive and understanding.

      6. A good marriage is all about compromising and doing your best, and not about “being right.”

      Let’s first say a thing or two about an overwhelming sense of entitlement many people today feel. A big part of growing up is about learning that no one “owes” you anything, that you can’t claim to “deserve” anything and that a “right” to do something needs to be earned and protected, and can easily be taken away by others, whether it seems fair or not. That’s another big one—life isn’t fair and it’s all about giving it your best, hoping nothing really bad happens and surviving catastrophes when they happen and moving on.

      This is true for all aspects of life, but relationships in particular. You can’t act like a petulant child and throw tantrums or get mad and put every time something isn’t going your way. However, there will be moments when one partner is simply too emotional and irrational, just looking for a fight or a way to blow off some steam by yelling at whoever is closest to them. In such cases you need to swallow your pride, forget about being right or fighting for justice, and focus on keeping your cool and doing damage control. Most times a simple compromise or leaving your partner alone for half an hour to cool off is going to be enough to keep the peace.

      7. It’s easy to misinterpret your partner’s actions and overreact.

      You will have plenty of things on your mind at times and an innocent comment from your partner might set you off. You might feel angry, tired, undervalued, self-conscious, etc, and this will cloud your judgment and determine how you interpret what has been said. There were times when I came home from a very long and frustrating day at work, did some more work at home and was in a very depressed mood, when something that was meant as joking comment—a sort of good-hearted lover’s banter—threw me over the edge to the point where I was raising my voice and trying to defend myself from the perceived insult.

      With time, you learn to pick up on the things that easily trigger you to go overboard (body image issues, low self-esteem, feeling inadequate in a professional or social sense are the most common triggers) and work on controlling your anger and coming to terms with the underlying issues. You can also let your partner know which comments are off limits and set some boundaries. In the end it’s all about not letting your fears and doubts get the better of you.

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      8. Fights over all kinds of things are common—learn to swallow your pride and apologize.

      Even when you learn to let things slide, stay calm during an argument, and become incredibly understanding of your partner, you will still get into an occasional fight. This is very healthy for a relationship, as it means that you are both playing with your cards open and don’t keep your feelings bottled up so they can fester and ultimately cause you to explode. There are certain common “scripted responses” among higher primates as social creatures, which allow a unique scenario to play out and keep the group together even when faced with big problems. It goes something like this:

      • Two people have very strong opinions on a matter and don’t want to back off..
      • Both people want to assert their dominance and things start escalating to yelling
      • Posturing, loud noise and aggressive language persist until one of the two comes out as a clear “victor” or someone storms out.
      • In the end either the dominant person or the person who has messed up extends an apology, which is then accepted.

      Even monkeys end serious arguments with an apology and make up, so think about this the next time you want to keep pouting and keep refusing peace offerings from your partner because you feel you were wronged on a non-issue like who is going to do the vacuuming.

      9. You don’t have to do everything as a couple and some alone time only strengthens your bond.

      Enjoying some peace and quiet

        When you get married you start to do a lot of things as a couple. You go shopping together, you relax after work together, you go out with friends as a couple, etc. However, your schedules won’t always overlap and neither will your interests, so it is a good idea to do some activities on your own. You may want some time alone with your friends, or one of you may just want to sit in front of the TV all day while the other wants to go swimming. This is where friends and family come in—you can get someone else to go with you and your partner can spend the afternoon doing what he or she enjoys. In the end you both get some alone time, you recharge your batteries and you have something new to talk about when you see each other again.

        10. It’s important to take time off from the mundane life every now and then.

        It’s easy to get into a rut after a while. Your mundane life can quickly bore you and cause you to be lethargic and even depressed. Most people enjoy a change of scenery every now and then, and as a married couple, you’ve got plenty to worry about both at work and at home. This is why an annual vacation is important. You can even have a few mini-vacations during the year. You can go on a weekend getaway, go camping, drive to another city and check into a hotel for a day or anything else that seems fun and exciting.

        I’d like to end this article by saying that, despite it being a lot of hard work and a constant balancing act, marriage is a true blessing and it affords you some extremely wonderful moments that cast a huge shadow over all the little problems and squabbles. I am a better man for having spent all this time with my wife and I look forward for what is to come.

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        Ivan Dimitrijevic

        Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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        Last Updated on January 15, 2019

        How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

        How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

        Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

        In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

        Step right up, don’t be shy!

        Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

        The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

        Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

        Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
        So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

        A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

        Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

        Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

        When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

        Culturally Conditioned

        We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

        I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

        The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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        Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

        Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

        Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

        1. Broadens Your Network

        After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

        2. Improves Your Communication Skills

        I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

        Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

        3. Continually Learning

        So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

        Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

        4. Increases Self Confidence

        Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

        Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

        So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

        How to Talk to Strangers

        Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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        1. Say Hello

        Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

        Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

        Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

        2. Ask About Them

        Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

        You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

        As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

        3. Just Do It

        One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

        When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

        Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

        4. Don’t Take It Personal

        One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

        When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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        5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

        I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

        One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

        6. Detach

        A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

        Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

        7. Share Your Stories

        Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

        To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

        So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

        8. Give a Compliment

        Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

        When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

        9. Relax Your Body Language

        If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

        When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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        If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

        10. Practice, Practice, Practice

        Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

        Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

        After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

        The Bottom Line

        As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

        There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

        Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

        Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

        More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

        Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

        Reference

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