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Romance in Marriage

The 7 Secrets of Happily Ever After

1. The Need to Be Shown Respect


If you burp or accidentally bump into someone, you say, “Pardon me.” If you need to get by, you say, “Please excuse me.” If someone asks you a question, you stop what you are doing, look them in the face, and answer it politely. You speak the truth. When you tell someone that you will do something, you do it. If you have an obligation, you fulfill it. If you make a mistake that affects someone else, you step forward and apologize. If someone offends you, you either ignore it or discuss it with them personally in a cordial manner, rather than speaking maliciously of them to others. When you are running late for an appointment, you call ahead if possible to apologize. If someone can run their own life, you don’t try to run it for them, unless they want you to. If you need to make a decision that will impact someone else, you try to include them in the decision-making, and if they have strong preferences regarding the decision, you try to accommodate them. When someone makes a silly mistake, you minimize it instead of making a big deal out of it. When someone speaks to you in confidence, you keep that confidence. You are generally sensitive to the feelings of others, and try not to embarrass or anger them. You use a tone of voice and choice of words that reflect your regard for the person to whom you are speaking, and your confidence in their basic goodness and intelligence.

These are all ways to show respect. Respect is the basic protocol of all positive human relationships. It is part of the Golden Rule—treating others as you would be treated. To show respect to another person is to recognize their basic value and goodness, to honor their rights and abilities, to meet your obligations toward them, to be honest with them, and to make every proper attempt to accommodate them and show deference to their wishes.

Respect is especially important in marriage because of the intimacy inherent in that relationship. It is in your best interest to show your mate at least as much respect as you would a coworker, boss, client, celebrity or stranger. After all, your mate is (or should be) the most important person in your life, and your full happiness depends in part on his or her peace and satisfaction. Imagine how you would treat a truly important person, and then treat your mate that way. A man needs his wife to be respectful of him in the way that she talks of him to others, including the children. A woman needs her husband to speak to her as an equal, to involve her in decisions that affect her in any way, and to respect her right to have the final say in decisions that primarily affect her. Decisions that substantially affect both partners should be made jointly, and will often require compromise on the part of both. Respect does not mean that your mate always gets his or her way, but it does mean that you consider his or her desires as if they were your own, and give them the same or greater consideration. Both husband and wife should graciously and cheerfully defer to the strongly held wishes of the other whenever possible. When one spouse insists on making decisions for both and generally having his or her own way, the other is likely to feel controlled or manipulated, and to become resentful or depressed.

Showing respect includes giving your mate the benefit of the doubt when he or she does or says something that could be interpreted in either a positive (or neutral) or a negative way. You must assume that your mate, even though imperfect, is intelligent, has your best interest in mind, doesn’t mean or want to hurt you, and desires to do what is right. Even if your mate does not always entirely live up to these descriptions, assuming that he or she does may help to break the cycle of negative behaviors and encourage better behavior. Respect your mate enough to look for the good in what is said, see the cup as half full instead of half empty, and be generally optimistic and positive in what you say and do. Chances are that your mate will respond to the greater respect and higher expectations by improving his or her own behavior.

Showing respect to your mate also means keeping sensitive areas of your relationship confidential. Except for rare occasions when the help of a counselor may be needed in working through relationship difficulties, you and your mate should work out your differences together in a spirit of loving concern for each other, rather than individually going back to friends or family to complain or discuss confidential matters.

For Women:

Meet your husband’s need for respect.

Help your husband meet your need for respect.

For Men:

Meet your wife’s need for respect.

Help your wife meet your need for respect.

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