We have all heard the old adage, “To get respect you must first give respect.” But how true is this statement? Respect is in many ways similar to trust. Both are hard to obtain and once lost, hard to regain. When respect is lost it can severely damage a relationship. But what is respect? Many cultures have a tradition of displaying respect for their elderly. But all cultures build an understanding of respect based upon their particular values and traditions. Different cultures may hold certain values and traditions in high regards while other cultures may not. In Western culture we are taught as children to respect authority, teachers, police and our elders. But children are not always shown respect by parents and figures of authority.
How important is it for children to experience respect from their parents? Most parents love their children but do not always show them respect. Trust and respect are linked to each other. If you respect your child, you will envisage they will behave in a trustworthy manner. With respect comes responsibility for personal behaviour. Being given responsibility is an important part of social development for children, adolescents and even adults. Reasonability may include respecting public and private property, tolerating and respecting other people’s values, beliefs and lifestyles. If we obtain new responsibility it is important to understanding that respect is critical in the way we interact with others.
As children need love and respect it is the same for intimate relationships. It is important to show both love and respect to your partner to build a strong healthy relationship. If you do not respect your partner you will never truly trust them. How is respect lost in relationships? The most common way is by becoming complacent and taking your partner for granted. This may lead to a person feeling like they do everything in the relationship but are never appreciated. Or a person may feel that all their contribution is never noticed while their shortcomings are. This lack of recognition can lead to demotivation, unhappiness and conflict over a period of time.
Traditional gender roles can be a contributing factor to the feelings of being taken for granted. For instance, a woman may feel she does the majority of household chores. While a man may feel he is burdened by all the financial responsibilities. But how do couples re-establish respect in their relationship? First and foremost, acknowledge your partner’s contribution to the relationship. Say thank you and be appreciative for even the small things they do.
During arguments, focus on the problem not the person. Avoid being critical. Do not revert to name calling or eye rolling. Respect your differences, values and beliefs. Everyone comes into a relationship offering different skills, knowledge, and experience. If your partner holds a different view, values or beliefs; avoid belittling them, and respect their difference. Some people place greater value on intelligence. While others place greater value on emotions. Both are equally important and neither is more or less valuable in a relationship.
Christopher Swane - Relationship Counselling and Psychotherapy - Wellington New Zealand