The importance of respect in relationships.
Updated: Jun 19
When you are respectful towards your partner you routinely send them consistent and positive messages of how much you admire and care about them. The messages are a combination of your admiration of your partner’s personal qualities, life skills, and accomplishments and your acceptance of your partner as a unique person who has their own autonomy, opinions and beliefs. When you show respect this way, you tell your partner that you accept them for who they are, that you notice them and that you like what you see.
Respectful relationships acknowledge the differences you may have, likes and dislikes hopes and dreams without trying to change or steer your partner off their own life path. Your partner’s autonomy is not threatening to you. When you feel respected by your partner, you rarely feel anxious that your partner will disapprove of you or your choices or try to change you. The path to personal growth is much easier to follow when you have a respectful and supportive partner. When respect is strong in a relationship couples are more relaxed and they can be authentic most of the time. Disrespect on the other hand keeps people on guard, anxious and hidden from each other.
Lack of respect in any relationship places it on very shaky ground. Disrespect erodes the very foundations of relationships and guarantees its demise.
In a respectful relationship, you make efforts to understand and accept how your partner makes meaning out of their life. You do this by listening empathically to their point of view and by being curious rather than judgmental. The choices they make might not be your choices and the beliefs and opinions won’t necessarily be the same as yours. In the end, what’s important is that you respect your partner’s right to choose, express themselves and form their own opinions. That isn’t the same as agreeing with all their opinions or supporting all their actions it simply means respecting each other’s right to be different from each other.
When there are difficult choices to be made in a relationship negotiating difference is the key to respectful relationships. If there are too many challenges or too many differences it can result in frequent tension and discord. If you cannot respect your differences and you can’t negotiate them either it’s likely to become a problem. The inability to negotiate differences can highlights rigid thinking, intolerance and controlling behaviour all of which are damaging and disrespectful in relationships.
Unfortunately, if there’s little common ground or interests between you and your partner and not enough good will to work through problems, your relationship may not stand the test of time. If on the other hand there is enough love and mutual respect to support you during challenging times there is every hope your relationship will survive and even thrive.
Relationship counselling may offer you and your partner a neutral and respectful space to learn the art of negotiating difference in relationships.
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