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7 Things I Didn’t Realize I Was Doing Wrong Trying To Be A Good Wife

7 Things I Didn’t Realize I Was Doing Wrong Trying To Be A Good Wife

Being in a committed relationship is a big deal – for me, at least. I’ve always been very independent, so when I met my future husband, it seemed like it was my first relationship, even though we’d been dating since high school. Those relationships seemed like child’s play compared to the commitment we shared, so I had to learn a lot about what I’d done in previous relationships, and what I’d done on my own, and why it wouldn’t work in a marriage. As a result, I found there were quite a few things I was doing wrong trying to be a good wife.

1. I thought my husband’s happiness was my responsibility.

I know everyone has to be happy with themselves, I really do. But when you’re in such a serious, committed relationship, it’s easy to feel responsible for the other person. Because when he’s around me, all his troubles should fade away, right? Wrong! I had to stop and think, “OK, when I’m cranky, does being around someone else automatically make me better? No.” So why was I expecting myself to be that magic potion for him? Just because he’s unhappy or cranky or angry doesn’t mean I did anything wrong, and it doesn’t mean I have to “fix” him. In fact, sometimes when I try to smooth over an issue, he’ll ask me to stop because he needs time to be angry and blow off steam. I had to learn to step back and let him handle his own emotions, and take myself out of that equation.

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2. I wasn’t confronting the issues.

It was too easy to think life was happier if the dust was just shoved under the rug. In reality, that made me angrier about small things because I wasn’t bringing them to my spouse’s attention. Once I started bringing up issues I had, I realized he had done the same thing! We had hidden a variety of problems from each other because we wanted the relationship to always seem happy and smooth. Truthfully, no relationship is like that. We all have problems and part of the joy of marriage is knowing you have a partner who will help you through tough times. After we started sharing every problem, big or small, it was so much easier to deal with daily life, even when there were no problems! We started talking more about positive things and stuff we had done during the day, too, so confronting problems actually opened up our conversations!

3. I was doing all of the domestic work.

I’ve lived on my own most of my adult life; even with roommates, you’re still responsible for your own chores. As a result, I always think I need to do everything myself. I wash my own dishes, I do my own laundry, I take the trash can to the curb on pick-up day. In reality, this isn’t how it should be. When you’re married, you’re in a partnership, and both people need to take responsibility for what needs to be done. After we talked about it, I found my husband actually wanted to do some of these chores! He wanted to feel needed, and he didn’t think of household chores as “woman’s work.” Now he is in charge of doing the laundry every week, taking care of the yard, putting out the trash, and washing the dishes on alternating nights. He also likes cooking and grilling dinners! It’s such a load off my shoulders knowing not only do I have someone to help juggle these chores, but he actually wants to do so.

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4. I was always saying yes.

My husband loves art and painting, and would often ask me to paint with him. I was flattered because to say I’m not very artistic is being generous, and I love doing things with him – especially collaborating on something he loved that might hang in our home. But the more he asked me to do this with him, the more I realized it was taking away my free time. I didn’t have as much time to read or write as I used to, and as a result I felt more stressed because I wasn’t getting my creative outlet. Same as when I stopped say yes every time he wanted company to run an errand. Sometimes you just need to hold your ground and say no to something, even if it’s not a major issue. Did it hurt me to take time to paint with him, or run to the store with him? No, but it took away free time I craved. Always saying yes to someone – whether it’s your husband, another family member, friends, co-workers – means you feel walked on, like you don’t matter as much as they do. You need to be OK with putting your foot down and saying no to things that might give you more time, space or happiness.

5. I always thought I was right.

This might just be my problem, not one all wives have, but I think it’s big enough to be mentioned. A lot of the time I thought I was right because I had lived on my own more, or because I had been more independent, or because it was stuff women were just “supposed” to know more about. I tried to always speak with authority and sound confident, but in reality, I often didn’t know if I was more correct than him. I had always been so independent I felt like letting a man be right meant I was weak or dumb. It took me time to let him be right, but I realized he’s actually a really intelligent man – I wouldn’t be with him if he weren’t!

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6. I expected him to read my mind.

I know how to get people to talk to me, and so I always ask a lot of questions to try and learn what they’re going through and what might help them. So I expect others to do this for me, too. I don’t come home and volunteer information about what happened during my day and how it made me feel. I expected my husband to read my body language and, yes, read my mind and see I was unhappy, then go about talking to me and soothing me on his own. This never happened. It’s just not how people work! He told me he was hurt when I didn’t share with him, because he has always been very open about his days and his emotions. So I started trying to make sure I told him things I’d done, or how I felt, and he started making a point to ask me about certain things so I’d know he wanted me to open up to him.

7. I put other things before him.

This is probably the hardest point for me to get over, and I bet I haven’t really stopped yet. Because I’ve always lived on my own and done things for myself, I can’t get over the mindset I need to do everything, and I need to do it now. Those dishes are stacked on the counter and have to be washed – now! The floor needs to be vacuumed – now! I want to crawl in bed and read a book – now! I know it aggravates my husband because he is much more laid back – especially about housework! But sometimes he just wants to cuddle and talk, or sit on the couch, or watch a movie. I always feel like I need to get things done, or multitask, and this makes him think I don’t want to be with him. I’ve explained to him how my brain works when it comes to this, but it’s not enough to tell in words – I have to show him with my actions. So now when I get frantic about housework or my never-ending to-do list, I take a deep breath and melt into his arms and enjoy being with him.

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Hogan via flickr.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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