Respect and Understanding

Do you respect and understand your spouse? In this lesson, we talk about what respecting yourself, your spouse, and your marriage affects your relationship. We also discuss how to discover what respect means to you and your spouse as well as how to define it. Finally, we teach you how to demonstrate respect each day.


Respect and Understanding

Respect is crucial in a successful marriage. However, just showing respect for one another’s points of view and decisions is not enough. What we mean by respect is the entire picture of how you see, act toward and demonstrate respect for yourself, respect for your spouse, and respect for your marriage. Often in a relationship, we neglect the need to express respect daily, in both large and small ways. Complacency leads to a breakdown of relationship because, normally, the most critical part of the relationship—respect—suffers the most when we get into a rut of complacency in our marriage.


But how do you and your spouse define the word respect? We have tried this exercise in workshops, and when we ask a roomful of people to define a word like respect, we get as many answers as there are people in the room. Respect to you may mean, "My partner always supports me in public," but for your partner, respect may mean, "My partner always holds my hand in public." Neither answer is wrong, but each must be honored for the marriage to thrive. 


Having all-encompassing respect for your spouse and the relationship that is aligned with THEIR vision of respect, will bring opportunities to be more understanding. You will begin to understand more why each of you feels a certain way about topics, while giving you more understanding of one another’s lives and events that shaped your perceptions. The point is that having respect opens a door to many more emotions that require this foundation in order to be communicated, shared, and talked about in a safe environment.


We have identified three categories of respect in a marriage: self-respect, respect for your spouse, and respect for your marriage. We will explore each below.


Self-respect: Respect towards yourself, such as who you are, how you look, what you do, how you do things, your ideas, and what you like and dislike. Without having a fundamental respect for yourself, you can forget about obtaining respect from anyone else. When you respect yourself, you have boundaries that should not be crossed and things that you will not compromise.  If you lack these foundations of self-respect, and you treat yourself as a doormat, you will not gain the respect of your spouse or anyone else. Remember to respect yourself first.


Respecting your spouse:Respect towards your spouse will only come after you first understand their definition of the word respect and then where certain ideas, views, and beliefs come from in their past. Yes, respecting a person's views also requires respecting their personal journey. If you grew up wealthy, for example, and they grew up poor, each of you will value, demonstrate and care about very different areas of respect. An understanding can be reached via clear communication and having a conversation about what respect means to your spouse as it pertains to actions or words in the day-to-day marriage. Does respectful action mean taking out the trash? Giving them alone time? Buying them flowers? Helping them with work? Make sure that you define what respect means for each one of you so that you have a baseline and build your house of respect from there. There may be things you will not understand that your spouse insists on having your respect about but remember they may not understand some of your thoughts either. Everyone takes a different journey in life. Respect means accepting that about the other person and realizing that even though you haven’t walked a mile in their shoes, you can still respect and love where they are today.  Marriage is a partnership, not a quid pro quo relationship where demands are made without a dual understanding of the core beliefs around respect.


Respect your marriage:Respecting your relationship means different things to different couples. You will need to have an open communication about what respecting your marriage is and how it manifests in the day-to-day world of your love. This demonstration of respect could range from emotional support through tough times while having compassion and understanding, to fidelity. Respect for your marriage is the key to conflict resolution because when you demonstrate marital respect, you are building a team of two that is unstoppable. Whenever a conflict occurs, it stems mostly from a difference of opinion, views, and beliefs around respect. While having different expectations is due to upbringing and life events that shape our perceptions, this is also a fundamental human right. Respecting your marriage means finding a balance between these differences and minimizing conflicts, misplaced contempt, and lack of fluidity and love in your relationship. "Respecting" your marriage always requires being honest about your views on these topics.


Having, articulating and demonstrating respect is one of the building blocks of ENARI that plays a crucial role in your marriage. Without respect there is no honest and safe communication. There is no unilateral vision for your future as a married couple, and there is no intimacy and romance.