Advertising
Advertising

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?’

Advertising

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:

Advertising

‘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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

Trending in Relationships

1 11 Red Flags in a Relationship Not To Ignore 2 6 Real Reasons Why You’re Feeling Alone in a Relationship 3 50 Unique and Really Fun Date Ideas for Couples 4 5 Real Relationship Goals You Should Actually Strive Toward 5 9 Ways to Build and Keep Healthy Personal Boundaries

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

Advertising

The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

Advertising

The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

Advertising

Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

Advertising

The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

Read Next