I saw a clip on YouTube today that featured men hitting women back. Many of the women appeared to be the girlfriends or wives of the men they physically attacked. Now, the video gives little context in most cases so it is mostly unknown why these women thought they should lash out against the men in this way. However, the women did soon regret it as the men, who would take the abuse for a time, would eventually get sick of it and start hitting back. Watching this video I couldn’t help but think about the role respect plays in a relationship, especially a romantic one.
Why People Need Respect:
I was once told by a pastor that a man needs respect like a woman needs love. I think he was right. However, that statement doesn’t mean that women do not also need respect. People thrive when they feel a sense of belonging or value, and these feelings are greatly nurtured by respect. We feel like we can accomplish more, that we are capable of more, when we know we have the respect of our significant others. It can push us to show one another that the respect isn’t misplaced, thus helping to breed strong character and courage. It also helps build better communication as we learn how the other person thinks and feels. Individuality is also nourished by respect as people are shown by their partners that they aren’t going to try and control them.
Some Ways Disrespect is Shown:
Joking, and laughing, at the expense of your significant other is a common way to undermine respect in a relationship. It only makes people feel small, hurt, and meaningless. Constant interrupting also shows disrespect to your partner. People want to feel listened to, and interruptions or disregard of their opinions and feelings will only make them feel unimportant to you. Ignoring requests such as: folding a towel a certain way, putting the lid down on the toilet, rinsing your dishes, not slamming on the brakes of the car, etc. is another way to convey to your partner that their opinions and thoughts aren’t important to you. Insulting your significant other with the goal of making them feel bad is severely detrimental to a relationship and only breeds resentment and pain. It destroys respect for both people, as saying the words out loud is more damaging than simply thinking them and sets a dangerous precedent. Repeatedly threatening to leave your spouse undermines the security of the relationship and promotes fear and anxiety. It is difficult for respect to grow under such conditions. Disrespect can also be shown by refusing to let a past mistake remain in the past. In most cases, bringing up past mistakes will only result in making a person feel like they live under the shadow of that mistake and that you will never forgive them for making it.
What Respectful Relationships Look Like:
A relationship filled with mutual respect will be one in which the participants are able to put aside their own feelings and thoughts long enough to listen to, and consider, what the other person has to express. This includes things like: not texting during a conversation, looking your significant other in the eye (for the most part) when they are talking, verbally responding when appropriate, generally showing interest, and taking the other person seriously. Couples who respect each other will be able to share their emotions and opinions while also understanding that the other person is an individual and may not see everything the same way they do. They will not impose their own wills, but state their opinions and let the chips fall where they may. In a healthy relationship, respect does not need to be earned but is instead freely granted to both parties. This is because every human deserves a basic level of respect simply because God saw fit to create them. However, respect can certainly increase in volume as a person shows good qualities and character. A couple who respect each other will consider the opinions, feelings, interests, and preferences of each other without being prompted to do so. In a respectful relationship the parties involved will not make jokes at the other person’s expense, and will be even more respectful in public than they will be in private. They will do this in order to preserve the other person’s pride, dignity, and self-worth.
Disrespect can breed strong feelings of resentment, anger, selfishness, disregard, and even hate. It does this in any kind of relationship, even political ones, and should be guarded against lest it evolve into physical violence like I saw in that video. A great effort should be given to showing proper respect for people in general, but especially loved ones. As these are the people in your life you have the greatest affect upon, and should therefore show the greatest care toward. Do not make people earn your respect, but dole out a decent level of it to all you meet and be willing to allow it to grow upon getting to know the person further. I know this can be difficult because there are people and issues I feel strongly about. In the end, however, we are all just people making our ways through a difficult world full of things we do not comprehend.