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Last Updated on September 19, 2019

How to Develop Mutual Respect in a Relationship

How to Develop Mutual Respect in a Relationship

Relationships are, well, complicated to say the least. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am by no means saying they are not worth their challenges merely that there are so very many challenges that often times love feels, quite simply, overwhelming.

However, creating and fostering a relationship built on mutual respect and trust seriously helps to make love the fun adventure that it should be.

Before we even dive into the how to develop respect in a relationship, I want to make sure that we get very clear on the definition.

Respect is one of those crazy English language words that can be used as both a noun and a verb. Because English is just plain confusing. However, both definitions essentially focus on having admiration and showing regard for the abilities, thoughts, feelings, qualities, traditions and rights of others.[1] With respect to relationships, respect means honoring your partner for who they are and also receiving the same from them.

I know that sounds all hunky dory on paper and at this point, you may be thinking, “yeah definitely not that simple.” But I promise, it doesn’t have to be as challenging as it may seem at times.

Below are some easy ways to reframe how you think about respect and help it to grow within your relationship.

1. Define What Love Means to You

One of my closest friends told me a story recently of the first time she told her now husband she loved him. She was the first one to drop the L word and when she did, instead of saying it back, he asked her the BEST QUESTION EVER. He said ‘what exactly does love meant to you?’

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I know that is not the most romantic fairytale moment but in reality, if we all responded that way the first time our partner said I love you, we would be in much healthier relationships. You cannot expect to grow a relationship based on mutual respect if you don’t understand the way your partner views love and relationships in general.

I always encourage every single one of my clients to sit down with their partners and define what love means to both of them. It provides you not only with a deeper understanding of what your partner needs and desires, but also gives you both clear and defined things to work on and for in the relationship.

However, it is not just enough to define what love means to the both of you, you both must also act on what you discuss in order to continue to foster a deeper and more meaningful connection. This means asking any questions that come up and continuing to check in on your definitions of love on a regular basis as they very well may change and grow as you do.

2. Communicate About Your Actual Feelings

One of the biggest factors in a relationship created and based out of mutual respect is communication. Specifically, communicating your thoughts and feelings in a way that is both effective for your mental well being AND of your partner’s well being as well.

I am by absolutely no means saying to stuff your feelings down if you think what you are experiencing may hurt your partners feelings but, there is a way to communicate your needs and thoughts without making your partner feel alienated if they don’t necessarily agree.

When you first start truly communicating with your partner about your genuine feelings, it is important that you are not triggered when beginning the conversation. You cannot expect to have a productive conversation where both people are respected if you go in guns blazing. Instead, talk about your feelings in a way that doesn’t involve the story of how they came about.

For example, let’s say your husband keeps interrupting you in front of other people. Instead of talking to him about it by saying:

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‘Yesterday at dinner when I was talking about the day I had at work you totally talked over me and completely didn’t care what I was saying;’

Say:

‘Lately there have been a few times when you have spoken over me and it makes me feel like you don’t value what I have to say. It is important to me to feel valued.’

Do you see the difference? As opposed to getting involved with the story which will only cause your partner to want to jump to their own defense, as defending yourself is the natural human response. If you communicate with the focus on your feelings and needs, it creates a conversation based on deeper understanding not on surface level occurrences. It also provides your partner with sincere information on how to help you going forward.

3. Don’t Let Fear Dictate How You Treat Your Partner

I had to learn this one the hard way. Like many people, I had the unfortunate experience of an abusive relationship which caused an imprint of relationship trauma on me. Because of this, when I got into a healthy relationship, after doing some healing on my own for a few years, I found that all the fears my abusive ex had instilled in me came rushing back like an avalanche.

Through a lot of work, I was able to overcome them and have the healthy relationship I dreamed of. But in order to do this, I had to work through a lot of my fears around love.[2] And most importantly, I had to ensure that my fears did not determine the way I treated my new partner.

Even if you have not been in an abusive relationship, we all have past relationship trauma. Whether it is from being cheated on, a bad divorce, or even abandonment issues from childhood, we all come to love with our own set of fears about what love may entail. And, because most of us are not taught how to handle our emotions from an early age, we often let those fears come out all over our partners.

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A relationship based on mutual trust cannot be built if both partners don’t acknowledge their fears and separate them from the current situation. Not only that, but if you notice yourself wanting to react to your partner from a place of fear, it is important that you share that with them. This will help you not only keep your fear from poisoning your love, but also help to grow your understanding of each other and deepen your connection.

In order to continue to grow the respect between you and your partner, it is important that you both work on not only acknowledgement of your fears but conquering them. Whether this be done through your own methods, therapy, or a coach, don’t be afraid to learn how to not be afraid.

4. Establish and Enforce Boundaries

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. They are a hot topic of the relationship world and, in all honesty, they are incredibly important. If you are anything like me, you see all the pretty quotes about how important they are but can’t seem to nail down exactly how to establish them, let alone ensure that they are followed.

I could write, and probably will, another entire article on this topic but, here is a quick trick to finding where a boundary needs to be and enforcing it be followed.

It is important to note that having and enforcing boundaries starts with you. You cannot expect your partner to respect you and your boundaries if you don’t enforce them with yourself. So, before ever communicating your boundaries to your partner, look at yourself. Where are you letting yourself down? Where are you not honoring your feelings and needs? Where are you pushing your wants aside in order to please others?

Answering these questions is the first step in figuring out what your boundaries are and where they lay. After you figure out the answers, communicate the answers to your partner by asking them to help support you by honoring the boundaries you are holding for yourself.

As I mentioned before, communicating your needs and wants is based on you, NOT on accusing them. You cannot expect your partner to live up to expectations that you don’t hold yourself to.

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The next step is to actually enforce your boundaries with yourself and therefore, with your partner. Showing yourself that respect will help to show your partner how you need to be respected. And also, be sure you support and honor their boundaries as well.

And finally…

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

No one is perfect at relationshiping. Everyone makes mistakes and miscommunication is inevitable. So never be afraid to ask your partner what they need or how you can help support them through something. You should never be expected to automatically know how to respect and honor your partner, and vise versa; it is something that you learn together.

And remember the act of creating mutual respect is a bonding and growing experience. Ask questions to make sure that both of you are on the same page and, make sure that you communicate if for some reason that ever feels like not the case.

Final Thoughts

The beauty of relationships is that you are not doing them alone, so don’t be afraid to rely on each other to help the love move forward. And, if you need help laying the ground work of respect, don’t be afraid to reach out and get it.

Remember, you both are in a relationship because you genuinely care about the other person, honoring your love for each other is your first step in creating the respectful relationship of your dreams.

More About Healthy Relationships

Featured photo credit: Vince Fleming via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Emily Davis

Bestselling Author and Relationship Anxiety Coach

How to Develop Mutual Respect in a Relationship

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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