“She doesn’t respect me, so why should I have to respect her?” Dillon leaned forward, certain I’d agree with him.
But Jayla cut in with a shrug of her shoulders, “I’d respect him if he started acting like a man instead of a teenage boy.”
Dillon looked to me, “See what I have to put up with?”
I knew that if I said nothing, they’d go straight into fighting over the same thing they always fought about. Outrage over what he did. Indignation over what she did.
An image flickered through my mind of another couple, sitting in the same place Dillon and Jayla were sitting now. On the surface, they seemed completely different. Honey was a big personality, and she kept her man in line.
“He don’t dare disrespect me,” she declared with confidence.
The man sitting next to her didn’t say a word, but I could see the tension in his hunched shoulders. Maybe Honey had trained him to respect her, but I wondered if his submission was hiding feelings of resentment.
Respect is a big issue in relationships. And for good reason.
There’s no love without respect.
Some psychologists even believe that respect is MORE important than love.
You can grow to love someone you respect deeply. But feeling disrespected by someone erodes the very foundation of your relationship.
So what exactly is respect?
We’d normally say it’s a feeling of admiration towards someone. You hold them in high regard. That doesn’t mean you think they’re perfect; sometimes they do or say things that are wrong. But their human imperfections don’t diminish the light you see shining in them.
Many spiritual traditions encourage respect towards all living beings. In this broader view of respect, you don’t even have to like someone to respect them. You choose to treat others with respect, regardless of how you feel about them personally.
It’s this view that I believe is most useful in relationships.
Dillon and Jayla believed that respect had to be earned, that you couldn’t respect someone who didn’t deserve it.
What I hoped to teach them was that respect was like love: best when it’s mutual, habitual, and as unconditional as possible.
If there’s disrespect going on in your relationship, don’t fight about it. Talk about it.
Here are the 3 Respect Principles you should be discussing.Continue reading