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10 Toxic Marriage Habits Wedded Couples Need To Stop Now

10 Toxic Marriage Habits Wedded Couples Need To Stop Now

Toxic marriage habits can create the illusion for some that their current partner isn’t the right person for them. In some cases, this might be the truth. In other cases, however, the fact might be that eliminating these toxic habits could eliminate many relationship “issues,” thereby improving (or even saving) a flailing partnership.

Your relationship with your partner exists as an entity separate from each of you. Just like individuals have ups and downs, so do marriages. Just as with your body, whatever you “feed” your relationship will be reflected in its overall health. If you want to eliminate dis-ease and negativity, purge your relationship of these 10 toxic marriage habits:

1. The failure to express appreciation for your partner.

We all crave validation and acknowledgment. Most of us want to hear it from the person we love the most: our husband or wife. Lack of positive expression in our partnerships makes people feel as though they are being taken for granted. After months or years of feeling unappreciated, it is not uncommon for someone to stop “trying” to please their partner or to look for appreciation elsewhere.

Say, “Thank you,” “I love you,” and, “I appreciate you,” regularly.

2. The failure to support the dreams of your partner.

People often have fond memories of their relationship’s infancy. During the dopamine-infused newness of a courtship, people talk about their dreams, all of which seem magical. Unfortunately, when the “hot and heavy” wears off, reality hits.

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People begin to see the world and their partners more critically. Individuals forget how dreams are precious and that they must be treated with care. Partners tear down the hopes and ideas of their beloved other.

This is painful, and it is damaging. Suppression of a person’s dreams could be evidenced by lack of expression in the relationship. Coincidentally, that is the next toxic marriage habit on this list.

3. Lack of expression in and about the relationship.

It should go without saying that communication is a must in every marriage. Without being able to articulate fears, injuries, hopes, and desires with one another, partners become disconnected. Individuals should allow one another the freedom to express themselves without constant fear of judgment, drama or conflict. The free flow of ideas and communication is the circulation that gives your relationship life.

4. The absence of self-confidence and self-love.

The healthiest relationships are borne of two secure, confident and aware individuals. When one or both people in a marriage suffer from a lack of self-love, jealousy and insecurities often manifest in the relationship. These two things are marriage habits that are potentially deadly for any union. If you want to eliminate jealousy and insecurity, focus on loving and accepting every part of who you are first.

You are perfect.

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5. Complacency in your self-care and behavior.

As time passes in a relationship, people get more relaxed and let things go. This can get discouraging for a husband who loves seeing his wife get gussied up for work every day. It can wreak havoc on a couple’s sex life when health issues crop up because of the failure to eat right and exercise.

Whether you have been married two years or twenty, keep on top of your game. Do this not just for your partner, but for you! It feels better to do, act and be the best person you can be. It will do wonders for your marriage, too.

6. Wanting tit-for-tat.

At different points during every marriage, one partner will have to pick up the slack for the other one. This is why they call marriage “a partnership.” Understand that if your husband or wife is not giving as much as you would like, there will come a point when he or she will be picking up your slack. Don’t always insist on receiving tit-for-tat when you think you have gone above and beyond in the relationship.

Let your partner ride a little bit. Look forward to the day when the favor will be returned.

7. Forgetting to let your partner in on your plans.

Nothing can make a relationship go sideways faster than forgetting to get your husband or wife on board. By failing to clue your partner in on your dreams, goals or lunch dates, you could leave them feeling abandoned, excluded and caught off guard. All of these things lead to resentment, anger and disconnection.

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You don’t have to ask for your partner’s permission. You can ask for your partner’s support. You only need to let your partner in on what it is you want to do and where you want to go for lunch…and in life.

8. Making your partner your last priority.

Your kids are a top priority. So is your work. So are you. And…so is your partner.

How do you balance all of these things? That is the million dollar question, friends. Anyone who is in a marriage is negotiating that answer, especially if there are kids involved.

You won’t always balance everything perfectly. Acknowledge that fact. The most important thing to remember, however, is to not forget about your partner in this list.

Talk with your partner about how overwhelmed you feel. Come up with ideas on how you each can make the other feel like a “priority” with all these competing interests pulling at you. Express how much you mean to each other.

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9. Letting the physical intimacy in your relationship dwindle.

Life gets busy. People feel exhausted. They forget to look in their partner’s eyes, kiss passionately, hold each other and just touch. This lack of physical intimacy can lead to the feeling that a partner doesn’t love you.

Physical intimacy with someone you love is healing for the soul. It strengthens (and helps maintain) the bond between two individuals. Keep the intimacy alive in your relationship.

Practice touching one another. Read books to help keep the fire burning. See a counselor if you are out of touch or need help getting started again.

10. Failing to dig deep with your partner.

Without relationship evolution, your marriage will die. Remember that if you want to strike relationship gold, you have to be willing to dig deep with your partner. Issues and conflict are your opportunities to burrow into the soul of your beloved, plant new seeds and continue to grow together.

Approach change in your partner and relationship with the wondrous eyes of an explorer. By doing this, you will continue to discover new things every day. This will keep you out of a relationship rut and in something that is fresh, changing, and always exciting.

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These toxic marriage habits are subtle and are sometimes silent. Left unchecked for too long, they will kill your marriage. Make it a regular habit to look at yourself and how you could make yourself better for you and your partner. By doing this, you reduce the chances that the habits will take hold and cause havoc in your heart and home.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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