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Some Growing Up to Do: 16 Things for Men to Do Before Marriage

Some Growing Up to Do: 16 Things for Men to Do Before Marriage

Marriage can be a scary thing for men these days. We all know someone who has been in an unhappy marriage or has gone through divorce, and it’s really rough on them. But the answer is not to just avoid marriage altogether.

Instead, if you are thinking about marriage — or you just intend to get married some day — there are some things for men to do before marriage that can increase your chances of success and happiness in the long term.

1. Watch your language

This may not apply to everyone’s bride-to-be, but a lot of guys will learn that all the vulgar talk that endeared you to your buddies will just turn off your wife. Don’t expect to be walking around the house cursing up a storm anymore. Instead, learn to cut back. Pick your spots. Being able to show restraint demonstrates that you can control yourself and that you’re considerate of her opinions.

2. Go out with the boys now

Some women are really okay with their husbands going out with the boys — and getting married doesn’t mean you’ll never see them again. But if you like to party, get it out of your system now. After you are married, there is someone expecting you to be home at a certain time. Those last-minute road trips or unexpected sleepovers on the couch of your pal’s apartment? Those days will be history. She will care about your safety, and having a wild night with the fellas is bad news.

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3. Fight with her

Yep, fight. Have a serious fight. This is one of the most important things for men to do before marriage. When you get married, both of your opinions will matter, and that means they will clash from time to time. Fights are inevitable. But before you get married, learn how to fight fair. Don’t call her names, don’t storm off in a huff, and don’t be childish. Even when things get hot tempered, learn to fight constructively so that the fight actually solves something and you’ll grow closer together. If you haven’t fought and you’re planning on getting married, you might want to hold off. You need to know that neither of you will fight dirty.

4. Learn to cook

… and not just from a can. Even if your wife loves to cook and makes the best meals ever, there are going to be times when she won’t be able to. She’ll work late. She’ll get sick. She’ll be pregnant. She won’t be home. You need to be able to take care of yourself. So get to know the pots and pans in your kitchen now and learn how to make some simple, healthy, basic meals. That way you can take care of the both of you when it comes time for you to step up.

5. It’s time to budget — and talk about money, too

Money is one of the leading causes of marital stress and divorce today. That’s because many couples simply don’t communicate openly about money. If you want to avoid that problem, get to know your money now. Talk about financial goals. Make a budget. Have an understanding about where you want to be headed financially. Keep that conversation open and you’ll ensure peace in your marriage.

6. Take a trip by yourself

Traveling by yourself is one of the great pleasures of life. There’s nothing quite like only being responsible for yourself while experiencing the world. If you can swing it, get a plane ticket somewhere and get the full experience. After you get married, you’ll likely have a travel partner all the time (or partners, once you have kids). There is a real peace to traveling alone, and you need to be comfortable with yourself before tying the knot.

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7. Learn basic cleaning skills

Nobody wants to marry a pig. And no woman wants to be a maid for her husband. So learn how to use the washing machine. Have a regular vacuuming schedule. Wash your dishes and put them away. You need to be able to pull your own weight in the household after you get married, and being able to clean now will mean she won’t have to train you later.

8. Make peace with your past

Look, we all screw up. We have horrible ex-girlfriends, or we made some other mistakes. Instead of avoiding them, make peace with them. If you are on the outs with an old girlfriend, just bury the hatchet and move on. Carrying baggage is not a smart move for men to do before marriage. Let it go, and you’ll feel much better about yourself and your wife.

9. Get to know her family

It’s true: when you marry someone, you marry their family, too. And if she’s particularly close with her family, you’ll be seeing them a lot. They might be annoying, but they’ll be your family, too. So cut them some slack, spend some time with them, and form your own bond with them. You should be on good terms with them to avoid some of those nasty family conflicts that can pop up in marriage.

10. Live on your own for a while

Going from single to married is a big enough culture shock on its own. You shouldn’t have to also learn how to take care of yourself at the same time. So try to find a way to get out of your parents’ house. You’ll learn valuable lessons, like feeding yourself and cleaning. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to manage and pay bills, because once you’re married, those bills will start coming. Develop a little manly self-reliance.

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11. Get to know your own parents

If applicable, start having longer and more meaningful conversations with your parents. Sit them down and talk about their marriage and about how they got together — and how they stayed together (if they did). Learn about their past from the perspective of a fellow adult. You might be surprised at what you don’t know, and you could learn some valuable lessons that will come in handy when you are married.

12. Do absolutely nothing with her

Some couples thrive on going out all the time. They visit restaurants and clubs, and they do a lot of activities together. And that’s great, but a big part of marriage is the day-to-day life. You can’t go out every night. Some nights, you’ll be in. And you’ll have nothing to do. So try doing nothing with her now. Just kill some time together. Learn to value each other’s company apart from other activities. This will go a long way in keeping a happy relationship between you two.

13. Talk to your married friends

This could be an example of learning what to do, or learning what not to do. Among your friends you’ll find people with varying levels of marital bliss. Having conversations with them (similar to the ones you’re having with your parents now) will help you learn about marriage from today’s perspective.

14. Challenge yourself

Marriage is full of challenges. Your time and energy will be completely depleted on occasion, but things will still be expected of you. So you need to toughen up. Sign up for a race of some kind. Or join a gym and start throwing some weights around. Start reading some more complicated books. Push yourself mentally and physically, and you’ll know what you’re made of. Then you will have the guts to approach and deal with marital problems when they happen.

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15. Live with someone else

It doesn’t matter who — just find a roommate. A wife is a roommate for life, so you need to know how to interact on a roommate level with her. This means learning to divvy up the chores and share responsibilities around the house. Or cleaning up after yourself. Plus, you’ll learn about the element of surprise: coming across a mess that you didn’t make. Knowing how to handle this properly is really important.

16. Figure out your deal-breakers

Sometimes, there’s one aspect of a relationship that can crush it for you. While I don’t encourage you to be picky, you also should have some kind of conviction that makes you put your foot down, whether it’s religious, or health-related, or in the way she treats you. Determine what those are and be willing to walk away from a relationship if they are being violated. It’s not worth it, and marrying a person expecting them to change only leads to heartbreak and frustration.

Follow these tips and you can give yourself the best chance at a long and happy marriage. Do you have any other pieces of advice or important things for men to do before marriage?

Featured photo credit: August 6, 2009: Late night hands/Christopher 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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