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8 Scientific Secrets Of A Happy Marriage

8 Scientific Secrets Of A Happy Marriage

Marriage isn’t just an art, it’s also a science. Happy couples follow these eight secrets which improve their relationship satisfaction and increase their chances of long-term success.

1. Celebrate Good News Together

One of the best secrets of a happy marriage is to celebrate good news and success together, according to research conducted by psychologists Shelly Gable, an assistant professor at UCLA, and Harry Reis, a professor at the University of Rochester.

They found that happy couples don’t have to celebrate just the major successes, like a job promotion, to be happy. Instead, couples who celebrate every day victories, such as finding a lost object, are more likely to experience a happy marriage.

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2. Keep Your Expectations High

In the past, most marriage experts have encouraged couples to lower their expectations based on the idea that having too high of expectations will only lead to disappointment. However, newer research shows that if you expect good things from your marriage, it’s more likely to happen.

A 2004 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that couples were most happy when their expectations matched their skills. Couples who had high expectations of one another weren’t necessarily doomed to be disappointed, but instead experienced high marital satisfaction when their partner met those expectations.

3. Maintain Close Relationships Outside the Family

Happy couples recognize that they can’t always meet one another’s needs. Therefore, they maintain close relationships with friends and family and encourage one another to get some of their needs met by others.

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Happy couples know how to give one another just the right amount of support and then allow others to provide support when necessary. According to a study conducted by the University of Iowa’s Center for Couple and Family studies, giving unwanted advice can be detrimental to a marriage. Therefore, happy couples know when to back off and allow their spouse to seek support from a mother, sibling, friend, or co-worker.

4. Enjoy an Active Intimate Life

An active sex life is important part of a happy marriage. Couples who are less sexually active experience less marital satisfaction, according to a study conducted by Denise Donnelly in The Journal of Sex Research. Couples who engage in frequent sexual activity are more likely to have a happy marriage.

A couple’s sex life doesn’t have to decline with age either. In fact, older men are more likely to enjoy sex more, according to a 2006 study conducted by the British Journal of Urology International. The study found that men in their 50s enjoy sex more than men in their 30s and 40s.

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5. Seek Excitement and Surprise One Another

Staving off boredom in marriage is an important part of maintaining a happy relationship. Boredom in a marriage can undermine marital satisfaction, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychological Science in March of 2009.

Maintain excitement in your marriage by going on dates, surprising one another frequently, and looking for new activities to do together as a couple. Keeping the relationship fresh and exciting can increase your chance of long-term success.

6. Resolve Conflict with Teamwork

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The words couples use when they disagree can make a big difference in their marital satisfaction. Couples with a happy marriage tend to use the words like “us,” “we,” or “our,” according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Psychology and Aging.

Couples who used language that showed a desire to work as a team experienced less stress during arguments. They showed more affection and had less negative behaviors overall. Happy couples resolve conflict by using teamwork.

7. Say Thank You

Saying thank you to your spouse is really a small thing to do that can have a big impact on your marriage, according to researchers from Arizona State University. Their 2007 study revealed that when people thanked their partner for completing chores, it led to less resentment over a perceived imbalance in household duties. Showing appreciation for one another’s contribution to the family can be an easy way to maintain a happy marriage.

8. Kiss Good-Bye in the Morning

Kissing good-bye in the mornings can start your day off with a more positive attitude. German physicians and psychologists found that men who kissed their spouses good-bye before heading off for work each morning live an average of five years longer and earn 20 to 30 percent more money  than other men.

Men who kissed their wives before leaving even had a lower chance of getting into a car accident on their way to work. Couples in a happy marriage don’t overlook the small things, like a quick kiss before parting, because they feel the positive benefits.

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Amy Morin

A psychotherapist, psychology instructor, keynote speaker, and the author of the bestselling book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do

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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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