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10 Things People Wish They Knew Before Getting Married

10 Things People Wish They Knew Before Getting Married

Getting hitched is a big deal, but if you do your research right, the ride can be a lot smoother than the rocky road everyone is warning you about. So how can you prepare? Here are ten ways to get you started.

1. How does your partner like their eggs in the morning?

The odd breakfast in bed is the make or break, especially if you get the eggs just right—it should be written into wedding vows everywhere and inscribed into engagement rings: “Scrambled eggs with pepper and ketchup.” It’s little treats like this that remind your spouse how glad they are that they married you, and you’ll remember how much you’re willing to do for them, too. So find out, now, before getting married: how do they like their eggs?

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2. Will you be married to the housemate from hell?

Will the love of your life also be a domestic god or goddess? Will you have to make the bed every morning? You’re not just starting a life with the one you love; you’re also getting a permanent roommate, and you’ll have to learn to compromise. Make your house a home, together, and you’ll feel a lot better about your living arrangements.

3. You’ve already explored their flaws—but what about your own?

Enter your marriage aware that you will sometimes clash, because you’re both human. You won’t always be right or win the argument; sometimes you will be the one to blame and remembering this will help you cut them some slack when they get things wrong. Know yourself, know when you are making mistakes and get ready to fix them and apologize.

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4. What are your partner’s favorite things?

I grant you this one’s a bit Sound of Music, but it’s an important one. When those thunder storms crash straight into your life, will it be whiskers on kittens or a whopping slab of chocolate cake that will cheer and comfort your spouse? Prepare yourself for those rainy days by finding out before getting married.

5. Have you found their funny bone?

Laughing is perhaps the most important thing. It’s early and he can’t find his belt because you tidied it away somewhere and you can’t remember where? Don’t snap back with a snide comment about his messiness—crack a joke about indecent exposure on the train and repair the damage with some laughter.

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6. Do you have a mutual passion?

You both know you love each other, but do you know what you both love? Find a sport, a hobby, a dance class, anything that you can do once a week that gets friends involved and casts each other in a new and interesting light. The key is giving each other plenty of chances to keep falling in love for years to come.

7. Sometimes you have to choose other things.

It’s important to choose each other, but it’s also key to choose yourself sometimes. Don’t resent your spouse for a week because you stayed in with them instead of hitting the gym or the local bar. Keep yourself happy and bring that energy back to your relationship, because your spouse is not the only good thing in your world and you can’t put the pressure of your own happiness squarely on their shoulders. Sink this in before getting married and half the battle is over already.

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8. Beware the green eyes of jealousy.

If you know you’re a jealous person, be aware —because you will get jealous of the blonde, big-eyed secretary that brings your husband muffins at work, or the burly builder your wife makes coffee for while he rips out the kitchen cabinets. Talk yourself through it, remind yourself that trust is the only way to make things work—even if it is terrifying.

9. Learn from Gogglebox’s very own Steph and Dom.

If you love the cosy domestic feel of this program as much as I do, then you probably already love these two. Holding a martini in one hand and linking fingers with the other, this posh couple know how to let loose together. Do you two? Make sure your nights in are just as raucous as your nights out—you’ll be spending the rest of your lives together, make sure you’re having as much fun as possible.

10. Have your doubts.

This might sound like risky advice before the big day, but the most confident approach to your marital relationship is to thoroughly explore your doubts before you go into it. And if you haven’t found reasons not to marry your partner, then you haven’t looked hard enough, because we all have plenty to choose from. It’s being aware of these and still wanting to jump in head first that will keep you certain that you’re waking up with the right person every morning and getting into bed at night with the real deal. And then you’ll get to prove how much you love them every day for the rest of your life.

Featured photo credit: Flikr – Patrick via c1.staticflickr.com

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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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