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6 Stages Of Every Marriage And How To Get Over The Challenges

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6 Stages Of Every Marriage And How To Get Over The Challenges

Marriage – what does that word make you think of? Do you see it as the ideal goal for your life, rosy and full of love and commitment? Or does it scare you to be fully devoted to just one person? Regardless of your thoughts on marriage, it’s important to be well informed about what it involves. Marriage is one word for the state of commitment you sign into on your wedding day, but it’s not just one thing – there are actually many stages of marriage! Check out the 6 stages of marriage, the challenges that come along with each, and how you can overcome them all to enjoy a long lasting marriage.

1. Honeymoon Heaven

Honeymoon periods can vary depending on how long you’ve been together, how quickly children come, and if you lived together before marriage. But in general, the honeymoon period is when you and your partner are completely engrossed in each other. You can’t get enough of your significant other, and want to learn everything about them while you start a life together.

Some of the challenges are that you’re so engrossed in each other, you might ignore some of the bigger issues. You can’t live too much in the moment in this stage, even though that may bring you happiness. This is prime time for you two to decide where you want your life together to go, and over what time period. You need to establish yourself as a strong couple all around, instead of just having fun in your own little world (or in the bedroom!).

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2. Settling In and Settling Down

You got to know your partner during courtship, and then everything was rosy during the honeymoon period. Once you settle down together, you need to settle in to your life. You’ll learn things about your partner that you might not have previously known, especially if you didn’t live with them. Or maybe you were just so happy in love, it was easy to push these things aside. Well, now you’re a team. You’re building a life together so you need to accept things about your partner (and yourself!) and adapt to it.

One of the challenges can be a power struggle, as you both try to remain individuals while forming a solid partnership. Each of you will be working on fully developing your careers and social lives before children come into the picture, and it may be hard to balance this while still staying in love and focusing on your relationship. This is often a prime time for divorce, but you need to make your relationship a priority to make it to the next step.

3. Family Central

After accomplishing major goals in yours lives, you and your partner will probably be ready to start a family. Whether this means you’re adopting dogs or having children, it’s a new territory to negotiate. You’re adding members to your family, so things are not just about your and your spouse anymore. You have to make room for others without losing track of the love you have for each other.

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There are a lot of challenges at this stage. You’re adding in kids, maybe even a home and mortgage, all those things grown ups do. You have a lot to balance, which means there is a lot of stress. So much depends on you – kids need your help, bills won’t pay themselves, and all of that takes money and effort. It’s easy to push your marriage to the back burner at this time, and let yourself blame your partner for any problems you may be having. Again, it’s important to make your relationship a priority, or it probably won’t last through this rocky phase.

4. Finding Yourself

After your children go to school, there is more freedom for your and your spouse. You kids can do more for themselves, and they’re away during the day, so if either of you stayed home with the kids, you can now go back to being a two income household. You both will have more time and space to figure out who you are, whether you’re working on re-establishing a career, starting something new, or just trying to find what hobbies you’d like to fill your newly-freed time with.

Challenges at this stage are similar to the second stage of Settling In. You and your spouse are both trying to find yourselves again now that the kids are more independent. You’re able to have time to yourself, and you might want that just for yourself – not with your spouse. This is another rocky stage because time alone is so rare, you crave it, but you might be alienating your partner. The solution is, of course, to keep your relationship a priority. If you want time alone, talk it over with your spouse. Make sure there are no hard feelings. Give each other space but come back to each other for support and love as you transition.

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5. Empty Nest

Once your kids leave, it’s just you and your spouse again! That sounds amazing, but it might be more stressful than you’d imagine. You have to learn about your partner again, just like during your courtship – and hopefully like during your honeymoon phase! For so long, you’ve both put the kids and family first, but now you’re able to focus on each other again.

It can be challenging to adapt to being “just the two of us” after so long, especially if the last stage of Finding Yourself was particularly solitary. Partners might grow apart without the kids to keep them together. The answer is, yup, you got it! Make your relationship a priority. Talk to each other about whatever’s on your mind. Don’t keep worrying about the kids or trying to keep in touch with them to save your own relationship, because they need to start their own lives. Make things fun with your spouse so you feel like you’re dating again, splurge on yourselves and see how your relationship can evolve.

6. Compassionate Love

Wow, you’ve made it through all the stages? That’s rare these days, with divorce rates so high. Once you’ve made it this far, you know you’ve got true love. You and your partner have tackled every stage of marriage and come out on top of it all. Celebrate! You need to congratulate yourselves for making it so far, settle in to your golden years and love each other and the family you’ve created.

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Featured photo credit: Eugenio Wilman via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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