There is this couple I know, they have been married for a while, and their relationship really baffles me. When they are both in a good mood, you will envy the relationship and probably use them as a point of contact when praying. But if this couple starts displaying, they will lose all the respect they have for each other, and start saying mean things to each other.
This made me ask a few questions about relationships, married or not. What really is respect in a relationship? Most of the people in relationships don’t know what respect really is, and they most probably think love covereth all things and love is the principal thing. Love is important and essential in a relationship, but if there is no respect for each other in the relationship, you’ll watch your love-filled relationship turn to something you will hate, you might start wondering why you liked each other in the first place.
What then is respect?
Respect is knowing and accepting your partner is a different person from you, with different opinions and experiences from you. Respect is reflected on how you treat your partner on a daily basis, even if you disagree over certain issues (which is normal), you are able to value each other’s feelings and opinions.
It is very easy to say I respect myself and I respect my partner, but showing/acting the respect is where the problem comes in. And if you don’t define respect and ensure the importance of respect in your relationship, love might not be able to sustain the relationship.
How can I show respect?
- Have self-respect: This sounds cliche, because you have probably heard it a lot of times. But if you don’t respect yourself with, who will? For you to respect yourself, you have to know yourself. In a relationship, you are not just getting to know your partner, you are getting to know yourself better too. Treat your body with care, don’t be rude to strangers, and just work on being the best version of yourself.
When you respect yourself, you have boundaries. When you know your boundaries, it makes it easier to know when someone is crossing the line, you will be able to correct immediately and make amendments. When you also have self-respect, it will help you communicate better and your partner will surely appreciate that.
- Appreciate differences and be tolerant: At the beginning of the relationship, I call it “initial gra-gra”, you and your partner will seem so alike, you feel he understands you perfectly and you understand him too. As you continue to move on in the relationship, you will realise you are different in more than one way. You can be social, and your partner isn’t. You can not like cats, and your partner has had cats since forever, this is when appreciating differences and being tolerant comes into play.
Tolerance is one virtue everyone should strife to possess, because it will take a whole lot of stress from you. Having respect yourself and knowing your boundaries will help you know when and when not to take it anymore.
- Appreciate your partner’s contributions: This sounds so simple, but it really is a big deal. Learn to tell your partner if they are doing well, it shows you are respecting them. You shouldn’t just nag or complain about your partner, tell your partner when they make you really happy, hype them a little. Let your partner feel they are doing well, don’t just acknowledge the times your partner made you sad.
- Apologise when you are wrong: One thing you should learn to do is put yourself in your partner’s shoes, if you feel what you did is wrong, don’t just downplay it, admit you are wrong and apologise sincerely. Trying to put yourself in another person’s shoes is a great way of showing someone respect, it also helps when you tell your partner you don’t wamt something because your partner knows you have put yourself in his position, and you don’t really want it.
Actions speak louder than words, you just don’t say sorry, you have to put it in action that you really are sorry. Try to avoid that particular thing you have apologised for, it won’t make too much sense if you are setting boundaries for someone amd you are always crossing their own boundaries.
- Communicate and listen to your partner: Nobody really listens and communicates anymore, so it has to be a conscious effort on our part to actually listen to someone. Try to put your phone away, make eye contact, give your partner your full attention when they talk to you. Communicating with your partner doesn’t mean just talking, it also means being honest with them and not just let them assume what is going on in your head.
Don’t expect your partner to be a mind reader. If you’re upset, it’s important to talk openly about what’s bothering you. Don’t be accusatory. Use “I” statements, like “I feel really ignored and unimportant when you cancel our plans at the last minute,” or “I feel annoyed when you keep asking me to hang out when you know I need to study. I really appreciate it when others respect my time.” Your emotions are always valid—don’t feel bad for feeling what you feel.
There are still a lot of ways to respect your partner and be respected, I’ll most likely to do a 2nd part. I’ll really love to hear from you and know waht you think about love and respect in relationships, you can share your thoughts in the commentsection.