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8 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Settling

8 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Settling

Before you pop the question or put the champagne on ice to celebrate whatever form of partnership you have chosen, do me a favor, will you? Read the 8 questions you need to ask yourself before settling. Take your time and think abut them. These will be the foundation stones for your time together. Who wants to live “unhappily ever after?” With marriage rates in the USA at an all time low and divorce rates rocketing, these questions must be asked.

1. How well do you know your partner?

And what does your partner know about you?  Well, you are a wonderful person, for a start! But let us probe deeper and discover whether you are a balanced person and if you are prepared to try and change some defects or not. Ask yourself the following:

  • How you deal with mood swings and whether you are often moody.
  • If you are prepared to love and cherish your partner.
  • If you empathetic or not.
  • If you are aware of any defects, how do you think they might affect the relationship and if you are prepared to talk about them.

You should feel at ease exchanging views on how you both want to be better people and how this could impact the relationship.

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2. How often do you argue?

Think of the last argument you had with your partner. Maybe it did not solve anything or maybe you ended up at loggerheads. Maybe the fallout was pretty toxic in that there was a lot of resentment and hurtful remarks which lingered in the air afterwards. If this is a frequent occurrence, you may well have to think whether you are both compatible. Look at arguments in the following way. They are perfectly normal in any relationship, but they should always be managed so that they provide a negotiated decision or resolve a problem to both partners’ satisfaction.

“Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance.” —Robert Quillen

3. What are your views on your careers?

“A career is wonderful but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” —Marilyn Monroe

Is there any risk that one of you might become a workaholic? At the other end of the spectrum, you have to look at a boring job which gives you neither satisfaction nor any prospect of a career. You have to think about whether your job is going to become the elephant in the room. You both need to be able to maintain a decent work-life balance if any relationship is going to stay the course. Talk about your plans and how these could:

  • Help you both with financial rewards and security.
  • Impact negatively on spending time together.
  • Lead to stress or worry.
  • Affect your children and their upbringing, if you decide to have a family.

4. What is your view of your partner’s limitations?

You need to think about this carefully. There may be problems with untidiness, distraction, forgetfulness and unpunctuality, just to name a few. The perfect partner does not exist and we will never know whether Cinderella and her Prince Charming split up! Now here is the question. If one partner tries to reform or convert the other, then problems will begin to bubble up to the surface. The key is being aware of these problems and attempting to change yourself first, rather than your nearest and dearest. Look at the give and take in your relationship and see whether it has been fairly balanced up to now.

5. Are you really happy with each other?

Many people have leaped into a marriage or partnership because of the fear of being alone or because of unbearable peer and family pressure. Sad, but true. But women are delaying marriage according to the Bowling Green State University. Think of it like this. Do not believe that things will change and that you will be able to adapt, if you do not feel 98% of the time happy, relaxed and satisfied now.

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6. How reliable are you?

In every sphere of life, reliability is the one quality that makes or breaks a relationship. You both need to know that you can depend on each other 100%. Reflect on how you have delivered on your promises up until now.  There will be times when you have to care for a loved one who is ill or deal with difficult children. There will be the day-to-day chores where each partner will have to deliver so that the home runs smoothly.  Give yourself a score on your own reliability and assess your partner too.

7. Do you share the same values?

One of the reasons you were attracted to each other was that you have similar views on lots of things, such as politics, cooking, gun control, equal human rights, and religion. There may be things that you disagree amicably about, but in general, your world view is pretty much in sync. But, if you argue a lot about politics or ethical values such as birth control or abortion, it may be time to reflect on how these could start to erode your relationship. There could be problems about having children if you have very different views on family planning, for example. Think of various scenarios such as “what if…” and ask your partner how she or he would react to these.

8. Do you want to have a family?

This is a key question. I once knew a couple where the wife deliberately sought to get pregnant in spite of her husband’s expressed desire to have no children. They ended up with three sons! Needless to say, the marriage floundered and ended most unhappily. Discuss your ideas about children and more importantly how to bring them up. Your own childhood will have an enormous influence on how you approach this. If it was an unhappy one, there will be a challenge to make sure that the same mistakes are not made. We often parent like our own parents did.

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“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” —George Bernard Shaw

Have you any other questions that you think are important? Let us know in the comments    

Featured photo credit: Divorce books/farm8 via farm8.staticflickr.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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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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