Respect: The Secret Behind a Healthy Marriage

“Every good relationship, especially marriage, is based on respect. If it’s not based on respect, nothing that appears to be good will last very long.” ~ Amy Grant

Remember the good old days when you were dating and engaged, when the relationship seemed so easy? And who could forget how head over heels you were during the honeymoon phase of marriage? It all seems like a dream, where love is all you need, and no issue—big or small—can get in your way.

But as regular married life settles in, love seems to change. There is even science to back up this phenomenon. A YouGov study found that while we start out saying “I love you” all the time and feeling enamored with our loved one, as time goes by, we enter the “practical love” stage. We start to just depend on each other without necessarily showing our love as often.

It must have to do with how the brain just gets used to being around this person all the time. Maybe you even take each other for granted. Sure, you still love each other. So the question is this: is love enough in marriage?

Some psychologists would say no. Couples need a healthy balance of love and one other vital thing—respect.

Just what is respect?

The definition is basically an admiration for someone. So then your focus must be to find ways to daily show your spouse that you admire them. How to you do it?

Here are 4 ways to show your spouse your respect and admiration:

1. Trust Your Spouse As Much as Possible

It’s easier to trust our loved one when we haven’t known them long because we haven’t seen many of their faults and therefore can’t hold those against them. But the longer we are around them, we start to see that perhaps they are late a lot, or make bad decisions with money, or really have no clue how to dress.

When you love and respect someone, you give them the benefit of the doubt. This is an amazing gift especially since it is the hardest. When you trust, you are allowing your spouse the chance to prove themselves; it also shows that you are okay with whatever outcome they choose.

This works for lesser issues, such as manner of dress. This is especially true in the case of more risky decisions, such as money decisions.This is where you have to sit down and figure out who can realistically do each task. Perhaps you two can negotiate that your spouse takes care of certain aspects of the finances, while you take care of other things. You are still offering trust while protecting both of you.

2. Accept Your Spouse’s Faults

If you admire someone, it’s probably for their best qualities. Of course, it’s pretty easy to like someone for their best qualities. But what about their faults?

That can be a challenge and a true test of your love and respect. We all have faults, big and small. Think of a few of your spouse’s faults.

Are you accepting of them, or do you complain about them?

If your spouse does things that tend to annoy you, catch yourself when you get negative thoughts about their faults. Realize that their faults don’t make your spouse less deserving of your love. Remind yourself that they are human, and trust your spouse to work on their faults. Encourage when you can, but in the same breath be okay if it doesn’t change. Remember why you married your spouse in the first place. 

3. Never Speak Ill of Your Spouse

Your spouse should have your utmost love and respect every time you speak to them or about them. Always think before you speak to your spouse. Don’t belittle them for any reason—it’s just not worth it. You can certainly discuss concerns or disagree on things but never be negative or accusatory.

Take care that your spouse never feels like you are taking a shot at them or undermining them. Instead, speak positively. How would you address your very best friend?        

Do the same when speaking about your spouse to other people. Smile and offer compliments about your spouse even when they aren’t there. It will make you feel good about your spouse, which in turn will only help your love to grow in your thoughts and actions.

4. Give Your Spouse Your Undivided Attention

When you’re together, really be together. Turn off your cell or computer, put down that book or magazine, and really pay attention to your spouse. You respect what you pay attention to. How much of your time is spent giving undivided attention to your spouse?

One way you can offer this kind of attention may be hard at times, but just try it and see if it works—show enthusiasm for the things they love. Even if it’s something you aren’t so crazy about, like watching YouTube videos or going to a local stage production, do it anyway. Doing this shows your spouse that you are paying attention to what they like and offering your attention to that thing, too. They will feel your love and respect loud and clear, and they will show it to you in return.

Love and admire your spouse regularly and you will surely notice that your relationship is improving.

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Malini Bhatia

Malini Bhatia is the founder of Marriage.com, a website dedicated to providing resources, information and a community that supports healthy happy marriages. Malini has global experience in international management and communications and lives in Los Angeles with her husband of 11 years and two daughters.

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