Day three of this five-day series on strengthening your marriage focuses on respect.
Respect and love go hand in hand, and it’s difficult to have one without the other. While love is based on admiration, you cannot admire someone who you do not respect. The loss of respect in a marriage often happens like a slow drip. Gradually the difficulties, the arguments and the negative views eat away at the way you view your spouse and reduce your perspective to a sad state. Rebuilding respect is possible, but it requires hard work and dedication. There is a need for a concentrated effort, and a change of behavior needs to take place.
Those little snide remarks and put downs? The passive-aggressive comments? They need to stop. And to help you filter your words, you must first filter your thoughts. When you lack respect for someone, a single annoyance can push you off the edge… “Why do they always do that? Why is this so difficult to understand? Why is he always so stupid!”
Once it becomes habit, reigning in the stream of negative thoughts can be difficult, but it’s necessary to start looking at your spouse in a better light. Focusing on the negative traits of another person will always increase your disdain and decrease your respect.
If you are struggling with releasing anger or resentment aimed towards your spouse, couples or individual therapy to find the root cause can be greatly beneficial. Some feelings can run deep and long-standing negative views of your spouse can at times require outside help to resolve.
Let go of the notion that your spouse needs to earn your respect. Even if you do not feel that your spouse’s actions deserve your admiration, your spouse does. Your marriage and the family you’ve created also deserve your respect. Separate your spouse’s current behaviors from who they are as a person. Reflect on the traits that first drew you to them and focus on how they contribute to your marriage and family. You will never regret treating your spouse with respect or adjusting your actions to create a more positive environment.
Don’t Condone Mistreatment
From either of you. Getting back at one another, using hurtful words or reacting angrily will only fuel the downward spiral. Decide to act in a respectful manner towards your spouse. If they are struggling to treat you respectfully, voice your concerns using healthy communication techniques. For example, “I feel upset when you come home two hours late without calling me because I was worried about you and it hurt my feelings that you missed our dinner. Can you please call me the next time you know you are going to be late?” While you cannot control your spouse’s reaction, you can show them in a respectful way where your boundaries are. It goes back to the saying – “You teach people how to treat you” – if you continually allow your spouse to treat you in a disrespectful manner without voicing your concerns, they will continue to believe that it is okay to behave in that manner. Don’t assume that they know where your boundaries are, take the time to communicate them in a productive way.
Let Down Your Walls
Many times disrespectful comments and actions result from a previous hurt or sense of injustice. When we are hurt, feel taken advantage of, or feel mistreated, it can be easy to guard your heart and emotions. Building emotional walls to protect your feelings will harden your view towards your marriage and spouse. It takes a leap of faith to be the first one to open up and to take that chance. It may feel like you are walking out on a narrow limb, but if neither of you takes the first step, your relationship will not have the opportunity to heal or improve. Sometimes all it takes to make a fundamental change is for one person to show the strength of their love and their dedication to the marriage.
Tomorrow’s Topic: Humility & Forgiveness