Part of being so closely connected to someone through the bonds of marriage means that the thoughts, feelings, and dreams of each spouse literally start to become intertwined.
It is inevitable that our own self-views will become affected by how our partners see us, and thus it is possible for our partners to either boost or reduce our feelings of self-worth.
And there is nothing more saddening than to see a great person become less and less self-confident due to being continuously brought down by a cold and diminishing relationship partner.
On the other hand though, there is nothing more inspiring than seeing a couple who always boost each other up and bring out the best in each other.
Which brings us to the key ingredient for a healthy marriage: mutual respect.
One of the most common reasons behind marital conflict and dissatisfaction is when someone is feeling a lack of respect from their spouse. This was shown in a recent survey where over 40% of men felt unappreciated by their significant others or families, and this had a marked impact on their happiness in their relationships.
Showing your respect is a really clear way of communicating your love to your spouse, and enabling them to grow as a person.
For your spouse to feel loved and worthy as a person, they need to feel respected by you.
We all have insecurities, especially when it comes to things such as our appearance, job, and social life. When we feel our partner does not respect us, this can bring all these insecurities to the surface.
And if you are not feeling respected at home, chances are you will struggle to feel respected by others in your life, and things like your work performance may start to take a hit.
By choosing to either show respect or disrespect to your spouse, you have the power to either confirm or deny their inner fears.
You may think that you already do respect your spouse. But be wary that there may be times where you are showing your spouse disrespect without even being aware of it, no matter how much you love them.
And also be aware that this alone could be the main source of tension and conflicts in your marriage.
The hard thing is, your spouse is unlikely to actually tell you outright that what they are feeling is a lack of respect from you. Instead, they may show this in a range of behaviours and emotions, including:
- Outbursts of anger
- Stony silence
- Signs of resentment
- Feelings of humiliation and embarrassment
Let’s look at how you can consciously avoid disrespecting your spouse, and instead start showing them your respect (and your love) in a big way.
1. Trust your spouse’s judgment
Trusting our spouse’s judgment is a very clear way of showing them our respect.
This is all about affirming your spouse’s views and decisions without questioning or criticising them. This means taking things into perspective and letting the odd thing slide – will it really matter if the way they have suggested is just a little more complicated than your way?
Unfortunately, all too often we tend to question our spouse’s decisions or opinions without even realising we’re doing it. We may think we are being helpful in offering an alternative or asking our spouse to explain their reasoning, but really what we are doing is deflating their ego and filling them with self-doubt.
Always assume that your spouse is doing things for the best reasons, rather than jumping straight to the critique. Remember, we all make mistakes.
How often do you use these (or similar) phrases in your marriage?
“I trust you”
“That does sound like the best way”
Chances are, we could all do with using these a bit more often with our spouses.
Of course, if you do strongly disagree with a judgment-call of your partner’s, you have every right to voice your opinion and suggest an alternative. Just try and treat their ego as gently as you can while you do this, and make sure it is when the two of you are alone, rather than in front of an audience.
2. Accept and ask for their help and input
A great way of showing your spouse that you respect and value their input is by asking for their help and advice.
Although we often want to get things done by ourselves, it can actually be really nice to have the perspective of someone else every once in a while.
Especially in a relationship when the outcome of decisions often affects both partners, it is important to try not to leap into decisions by yourself. Give your spouse a chance to give you their input.
“Hey babe, I could really use your help on figuring out what I can do about (fill in your problem here). What do you think about it?”
Obviously, some of our day-to-day decisions do not require our spouse’s input. But try making a conscious effort to include your spouse more in your problem-solving and decision-making from now on.
Helping you and being considered will make your spouse feel good, and should really boost feelings of closeness in your relationship.
3. Show your appreciation
“Thank you so much for doing that, honey. I really appreciate it.”
A simple ‘thank you’ can do so much in making your spouse feel worthy and valued. Better yet, it will encourage your spouse to continue to do these things in future.
Of course, there are multiple ways you can show your appreciation. A hug, kiss, or massage will also go a long way in making them feel appreciated.
4. Acknowledge your spouse’s achievements
It is really important to recognise and celebrate our spouses’ achievements, no matter how big or small.
Focus on acknowledging and rewarding the things they have done well, rather than criticising anything they haven’t done.
Saying “I’m proud of you” goes a long way in making your spouse feel special and valued.
5. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS show public respect
People are generally pretty good at picking up on the vibes between a couple in social situations.
Have you ever had the horrible experience of being witness to a married couple where one spouse obviously has complete control over the other, and is making their spouse appear completely weak and helpless by belittling them in front of everyone?
The spouse that is being belittled is bound to find this excruciatingly humiliating, but feels powerless to regain their social standing and self-respect without their spouse starting to show respect for them first.
Please always be aware that there is nothing that will cut your spouse more deeply than being criticised or belittled by you in front of their friends, family, or workmates. Even that light teasing you think is funny might actually feel really humiliating for your spouse – always look out for signs they might be feeling uncomfortable.
If you disagree with anything your spouse does or says in public, they will really appreciate it if you save any constructive criticism for later when you’re alone.
There is nothing that will make your spouse feel more loved than publicly displaying your respect and appreciation for them.
Show your respect by telling others about your spouse’s achievements, or making references to what a great husband/wife/parent they are. Your spouse may try to downplay this or show a little embarrassment, but on the inside you can be sure they will be beaming.