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8 Things Happily Married Couples Do Differently

8 Things Happily Married Couples Do Differently

People want love in their lives. People need love in their lives. As they walk down the aisle, people believe in “forever,” and they are firmly convinced their own marriages will last.

However, in modern society, divorce is no longer an uncommon event for once-happily married couples; it has become a way of life. In fact, not only are divorces more widely accepted than ever, but today, it isn’t unusual for individuals to be divorced more than once. While we increasingly have the freedom to select (and de-select) a partner without fearing the repercussions of societal stigma, divorce is still one of the most traumatic experiences a person might ever face.

Want to increase the chances of your marriage lasting? Consider these ideas:

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1. They have good conflict management skills.

As good as life can be, it will never be perfect. All married couples experience personal challenges which will affect their relationships. The chances are great there will come a time when the things that make you happy (work, money, children) cause serious conflict in your marriage, too.

Whether the conflict manifests as a full-blown relationship meltdown or subtle tension bubbling below the surface, happily married couples address it. They tell their partners how they feel and what they would like, then they listen to what the other person has to say. Happily married couples manage conflict with empathy, open-mindedness and kindness.

2. They treat one another with respect.

As days, months, and years of marriage pass, people start to take their spouses (as well as their best qualities) for granted. As you find yourself falling into this complacency, your partner could someday recognize (in surprise) that you treat your dog with more respect than you treat them. This is a painful realization.

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Happily married couples understand their partners want to feel like the king or queen of the castle. They know how to treat royalty; with the honor and respect the partner not only deserves, but that was a promise of the marital union. Not only do happily married couples know how to be respectful, they are respectful–even when they are angry or have been wronged.

3. They support each other in achieving their dreams and overcoming their fears.

Along with shared dreams and challenges, individually, married couples possess unique desires and worries. Happily married couples guarantee the safety of their partners’ hearts by treating those hopes and anxieties with care. While there may come a time when a partner has to express disagreement (for the highest good of the relationship) with something the spouse wants (or with an unhealthy pattern of behavior), as often as they can, happily married couples bolster their spouses.

4. They get on the same page about money.

Many marriages fall apart over money. While people don’t have to share identical philosophies about finances, happily married couples talk about how much money they have, how they prioritize spending and how they will save for a rainy day. They recognize that not arriving at a common ground over money leads to worry, stress, and most certainly the beginning of the end.

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5. They allow each partner to have a life independent of the relationship.

Happily married couples know that healthy individuals create a healthy partnership. Part of being a healthy individual is exploring and expressing your own passions without the interference (or forced involvement) of your partner. Nothing will smother the flames of love more quickly than jealousy and possessiveness. Happily married couples recognize the value in allowing each spouse to spend time being “selfish,” which ultimately increases the willingness (and ability) of each to be selfless.

6. They place their friendship as the highest priority in the relationship.

When everything is going wrong in the relationship (or in life), happily married couples draw on the biggest asset they share – friendship. A couple’s friendship is an ever-evolving work in progress, and it changes as people age, as interests change, as children are born, and as the nest becomes empty. Happily married couples constantly cultivate the friendship with their spouse to ensure the roots grow strong and deep, qualities which serve the marriage when it’s forced to weather a storm.

7. They remember everything is temporary.

Happily married couples understand that everything is temporary and hard times will pass. Through uncertainty and fear, there are lessons in perseverance to learn. Happily married couples look at difficult experiences for those lessons, shift perspective and adapt in concert to make it through…together.

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8. They are optimistic, laugh and have fun.

In spite of hardships that will happen, happily married couples look for the joys in life. They believe there is always something to be grateful for, and they look for the gift in each difficult experience. Above all, happily married couples remember the value of keeping a sense of humor, laughing and having fun together.

May you find great happiness in your marriage.

Featured photo credit: Young couple in love outdoors via bigstockphoto.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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