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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, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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