Advertising
Advertising

5 Keys To A Better Love Life

5 Keys To A Better Love Life

    I recently asked 5 of the most successful couples I know for their best advice on how to create a fantastic love life. They laughed at first. They thought I was asking about sex. I assured them I wasn’t. I wanted to know what they’d done to keep their love alive for 100+ combined years of life together.

    What came next surprised, inspired, and frustrated me all at once. These ideas were so simple, so straightforward. Why weren’t more couples putting them to use in their own relationships? Richard, happily “living in sin” with Debbie for 39 years, said it best. “Most people just don’t seem to care enough to put a bit of effort into their relationship every day.”

    If you really do care then you’ll have what it takes to put the following concepts to use and reap the benefits. In spite of all the complexity that love serves up, these keys will make short work of adding joy to your relationship.

    1. Ask For Praise

    Expecting your partner to notice things without prompting is often very unfair and can lead to resentment. Keep the beast away by speaking up and bringing attention to things you’d like your partner to notice. If you’ve done something you’d like your partner to take notice of, say something! Got your hair did? Say something! Fixed the dining room table so it doesn’t teeter? Say something!

    Advertising

    You did this instinctively when you were a child. Remember running up to a parent or guardian and asking them to look at a picture you’d colored or cape you’d made out of an expensive tablecloth? For most of us, the response was one of amazement (if a bit contrived) and vocal appreciation for our obvious talents.

    You’re not so very different now. You still love to be praised when you’ve done well. Even if it’s something you should have done earlier in the week or missed a detail on. How to get that praise? Ask for it and agree to give it when your partner asks you for some appreciation. You know not to crush a child’s spirit by ignoring their efforts to impress you. Are you as smart about your partner?

    2. In Everything, Give Thanks

    Say “Thank You” and make an effort to regularly demonstrate your genuine gratefulness for all your partner does for you. There are going to be times when this will seem an impossible chore. Perhaps you’ll be furious with your partner over something or other and they’ll point out something they did, hoping for praise. How will you respond? Will you offer your praise and thanks then deal with your anger separately? Or will you close up like a shell and torture your partner with inconsolable silence?

    You care about making your relationship work so I expect you’ll swallow your momentary pride and say thank you. After all, your partner deserves at least the same courtesy you’d give to a complete stranger. When you cannot be gracious, be polite. Make a habit of offering thanks to your partner, even for the tiniest of things, and a sapling of thankfulness will grow into something strong enough to support you both.

    3. Schedule Time For Each Other

    If you were worried about killing spontaneous romance by scheduling time with your partner,  you wouldn’t be reading this. For the rest of us with busy lives and hectic schedules, an exhausting Wednesday is easier to handle knowing that Thursday at 6pm we get a few hours with our best friend.

    Advertising

    All that’s left is to actually be present with your partner during the focused time you have together. This, according to all voices heard in my less-than-scientific survey, is one of the hardest parts of any long-term relationship.

    Dinner with kids at the table doesn’t count as real presence. Sitting on the couch while you both have laptops running in front of you doesn’t count either. In fact, most of the things we do as couples fall into the realm of proximity instead of true presence. A simple test (thanks, Debbie!) is to see if you need to get your partner’s attention before talking for them to hear what you say. If you do, they weren’t really there to begin with.

    You’ll be tempted to use your regular time together as the time for you to angrily vent and argue. Don’t do it! This is your time to catch up with the person you love. If you can’t think of something wondrous and warm to say, chew on silence and just be. There’s something about focused presence with a loved one that helps troubles sink away just a bit. Make the most of your time together!

    4. Agree On How To Argue

    Sometime when you’re not even a little angry with each other, sit down and talk about how you fight. Then lay down some rules you both agree to follow during future arguments.

    Mary, a 74 year-old mother of four and widow of two shared three of her rules:

    Advertising

    • Nobody leaves during an argument without saying where they’re going.
    • Arguments that last longer than 3 days are obviously stupid and will not be allowed to continue.
    • An argument will never mean that the relationship itself is in question.

    Mary’s final rule resonated with me because that’s something I work very hard to do in my own relationships. One of the most difficult but smartest things to say during an argument is, “I love you but I’m so pissed at you about/for/because [insert argument here].” Keeping the argument separate from the relationship status is key to getting things back on track. You could call it a shortcut through very dark woods.

    5. Say You’re Sorry Every Day

    Apologizing is a lot like learning a foreign language. The more you practice it in real-life situations, the better you become at it.

    If you don’t do something worth saying sorry for every day, you’re either an angel or completely blind to your own inadequacy. You need not commit some great damage against your partner before saying you’re sorry. Just be yourself. In the course of being yourself you’ll say something without thinking, forget to pick up something from the store, or complain about your day without asking about your partner’s. You’re a master at making mistakes! =)

    The more you ask for forgiveness, the easier it will be to admit to and gain forgiveness for all the things you do that might drive your partner away if not taken care of. Its never easy to swallow your pride and admit to screwing something up. But you need to do this and make a habit of it if you want to make your relationship the best it can possibly be.


      There were many more tidbits and some hysterical stories shared but those 5 tips ranked highest on the list of useful bits of advice.

      Advertising

      Feedback Time!

      What do you have to say? Is there something you’ve found works really well for you and your partner? I’d appreciate your input!

      If 100 people go home from work today and communicate better with their partner because of reading this, we’ll have changed part of the world with just one article! Thanks for sharing it!

      Image: source, source

      More by this author

      Seth Simonds

      Seth writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

      5 Simple Ways To Spread Positivity How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic 21 First Date Ideas 11 Sinfully Easy Sangria Recipes Sleep Hack: A Simple Strategy For Better Rest In Less Time

      Trending in Communication

      1 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 2 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 3 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake 4 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life 5 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      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.

      Advertising

      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]

      Advertising

      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.

      Advertising

      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]

      Advertising

      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

      Read Next