Respect. A noun and verb meaning “a deep admiration for someone generated by their qualities, abilities, or achievements.” It also means “having due regard for someone else’s feelings, wishes or rights.” That’s the dictionary meaning. But what are the best ways to show respect to your partner and maintain respect in your relationship? Here are some ideas. As you read through each one, ask yourself if you show respect in this way, and if your lover also shows respect for you in the same way.
Swearing at your partner, even in the heat of the moment, leaves a bad taste. Calling your partner names is even worse. If you can’t argue without being reduced to swear words and name calling, there may be something very wrong with you or with your relationship. Focus on the thing that is in dispute, rather than the other. Avoid saying “You always” and “You never”. Avoid bringing up unrelated resentments from the past. Stick to the topic at hand, and argue with good manners.
Basically, the rule here is not to speak without thinking. Every word we say and every action we take has consequences. Not everything needs to be said. If you disapprove of something, ask yourself what you will gain by telling your partner. If your partner is having troubles at work, don’t immediately give advice. Listen. Weigh up the benefit of saying something against the consequence.
A girlfriend of mine recently told me her marriage works because she and her husband respect her need (not his) for lots of space. It is not a coincidence she chose him for his job: he is a hotel manager and therefore works long shifts and is away often. Everyone has their own need for space. It might be a lot or a little, and it might be very different to your needs. Honor the other person’s need for space as a sign of respect, even if it is vastly different to yours.
Kindness goes a very long way in relationships. I know a woman who left her husband in her fifties because when she was bedridden due to a back operation, he did not offer her even a cup of tea. This kind of lack of consideration for the other eats away at a relationship, and can end in terrible resentment. My friend’s husband did not dream that she would leave him in a million years, so he continued to act like a boor. He was shocked when she did. She is a lot happier now not having to live with an inconsiderate partner.
We all get it wrong occasionally. I’ve been known to start fights with my partner blaming him for something. When I reflect on it the next day, I sometimes realize that I was at fault, and that for some reason, I needed to vent and he was just a convenient scapegoat. Be big enough to apologize and admit the error of your ways. Your partner will surely respect you for this.
Loving yourself, with all your warts and flaws, is a sign of respect for yourself. It shows that you can tolerate imperfection. And if you can tolerate it in yourself, you can surely do the same for your partner.
It’s easy to get into a situation where you constantly poo poo your partner’s latest nutty idea and make him feel small. Don’t do it. Be gentle and kind. Laugh fondly at his foibles. Encourage him to laugh with you. He will feel respected and loved.
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