Relationship 101: RESPECTING YOUR PARTNER
What is respect?
Some synonyms include… appreciating, holding in regard, revere, value, admire, etc
Let’s go ahead with the general sense that, when you respect someone, you feel that they have some worth which must be appreciated.
Examples of disrespect
Relationships, especially close relationships like husband-wife… are often full of disrespectful things… Disrespect can come in many forms… Here are some examples…
- Disrespect of intelligence, “You’re just too slow. Everything has to be repeated 5 times before you’ll get it”.
- Disrespect of family background, “Why are your parents the most obnoxious people in the world? They only care about their image… Not what we want”.
- Disrespect of personality, “I’m sick of this unnecessary crying. I can’t handle your emotions. You’re so neurotic”.
- Disrespect of individual choices, “Are you gonna wear this loud pink at the party? You know you embarrass me with your clothes”.
- Disrespecting their opinions, “What do you mean extend the trip another day? Are you an idiot? You know what… you stay out of this planning”.
- Disrespecting their talents, “ya ya… you sing well. But who cares?”
- Disrespect of their achievements, “all you’ve done in your life is, score good marks in college. You were just another book worm. Get over it. Do something real.”
- Disrespect of their looks, “You’re anyway ugly. At least learn to smile”.
- Disrespecting their knowledge, “How can you not know the history of Taj Mahal? How ignorant can someone be?
- Disrespect of their existence in public, “Why do you sit with your legs so wide… show some class.”
When I talk about disrespect here, I don’t mean just normal joking around, roasting, pulling the leg. I’m talking about real disrespect, where there is some deeper disliking, criticism, real condescension and some actual truth behind your comments. And sometimes even the boundaries are blurred between which comment is a joke, and which is disrespect. Mocking jokes are also funny only when it’s based on some shred of truth. Also, when you make jokes on someone way too much, it enters the zone of disrespect too.
Why do we disrespect? We do have some nasty traits.
Why do we become disrespectful towards others? First answer is… humans are born with some traits, which can make us behave negatively towards other people… traits like… domination, sadism, tribalism, revenge etc. These traits are present in varying degrees, in all of us and they can make us disrespectful towards others.
Why do we disrespect people close to us more?
On top of that it becomes especially hard for us to respect and admire people close to us, especially partners. Why?
You’ve seen the worst
Because you might love your partner but you’ve also seen them in their worst or weakest version. You’ve seen how they curse, how confused they are, how fake they can be in front of others, their selfishness, their cowardice, how they waste their time, the bad habits… you’ve seen so much.
There’s no aura left. You’re like, “what? How can I respect THIS idiot? Who doesn’t even remember where he keeps his wallet?”
Where will they go?
And then, you kind of do take them for granted. With them, you don’t have to put on the façade of niceness. You can be your casual and honest self. You don’t need to sugar-coat anything. Whatever comes to your mind, you say it… you don’t really worry whether that’s politically correct or not. You’re not really afraid of making mistakes either… because what are THEY gonna do? So, your way of communication easily becomes crude.
You kind of go back to your most natural self with them. And as far as I know, an unconditional respect and regard for people doesn’t exactly come naturally. Like, we don’t see that in the animal world. We see fear, domination, cooperation… etc. But it’s hard to tell if one elephant respects the other elephant. And with our family, we are closest to our animal side.
See, THEORETICALLY, you know that you should respect your husband or wife, but still, so many people don’t do it. Especially when you’re in the middle of a conflict or argument… all hell breaks loose. Instead of ‘respect’ we see destructive criticism, abuse, contempt, hatred, snobbery, rudeness, ridicule… everything, BUT respect. Sometimes we see these things, without even a fight. That’s the status quo.
Why this gap? Why is it that you know ‘respecting others’ is a good thing, but you can’t seem to do it when it’s most necessary?
This is why it becomes very easy for you to be absolutely rude or brutal with people close to you.
Benefits of respect in your relationship
Today I wanna tell you respect is actually very important in a relationship. Respecting or admiring your partner can literally just save your marriage. Basically, a deeper goal for all relationships must be to maximize the positivity in the relationship and minimize the negativity. Overall, the relationship must feel more positive, otherwise you would either divorce or live very lonely lives in your own home. One wonderful way to create this positivity is through respect and admiration. If your partner feels respected by you… admired by you… they can tolerate a lot of mistakes, outbursts, conflicts… and still feel good about the relationship. Basically, respect and admiration increase the POSITIVE BANK BALANCE of the relationship which is fundamental to a successful relationship. Without it, you can go bankrupt very quickly.
Dr. John Gottman, one of the best names in marital therapy, wrote a book called… “The seven principles of making marriage work”. In his book he writes,
“having a fundamentally positive view of your spouse and your marriage is a powerful buffer when bad times hit. Because they have this reserve of good feeling, A couple will not have cataclysmic thoughts about separation and divorce each time they have an argument. By simply reminding yourself of your spouse’s positive qualities–even as you grapple with each other’s flaws–you can prevent a happy marriage from deteriorating. The simple reason is that fondness and admiration are antidotes for contempt. If you maintain a sense of respect for your spouse, you are less likely to act disgusted with him or her when you disagree. Without the fundamental belief that your spouse is worthy of honor and respect, where is the basis for any kind of rewarding relationship? The better in touch you are with your deep-seated positive feelings for each other, the less likely you are to act contemptuous of your spouse when you have a difference of opinion.”
Basically, respect and admiration increase the POSITIVE BANK BALANCE of the relationship which is fundamental to a successful relationship. Here are some ideas to actually bring this into your behavior.
- When you talk to your spouse… You listen to them
- You give them a genuine chance at a constructive conversation
- You assume they are good people, who make mistakes and are the victims of their nature and nurture.
- When you’re in public with them, you don’t get embarrassed by their flaws.
- You treat them as reasonable human beings… and you appeal to their reason instead of using force or domination.
- You minimize the pleasure you take in their suffering… You don’t joke at their expense, when you clearly know they are not enjoying it.
- When you’re with them… you focus not on putting them down or seeing their negative sides… you focus on lifting them up and seeing their worth.