10 May 2010

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

...find out what it means to me...

And that's exactly what I have been trying to figure out for awhile now.

I have read and researched a lot about the subject of marriage. I think I am a little obsessed with it. I like discussing the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to relationships. I am pretty sure this occurred around the time my own parents' marriage dissolved. I knew they didn't have the greatest marriage in the world, but for many reasons, their eventual separation hit me like a ton of bricks. I am still picking up the pieces and dissecting the past, which could be a waste of time, but I am trying to make it into something good and productive.

Now back to the reason for writing this post. I have heard many couples say that the one constant positive in their relationship or marriage is that they respect each other. I'm going to be honest and say that that is something that didn't always exist in my relationship with L. Before you go assuming the worst, let me back track.

L and I met when we were young (for my long time readers, I think I have repeated this fact about 100 times). In the beginning, I didn't know a lot about what it took to make things work. Actually, L had more experience than I did in the relationship department. While he tried to soothe my immature temper, I lashed out. A lot. I was a spoiled little brat who needed to actually leave her mama's nest before she could understand anything about life.

L was the first person in my life that I could truly be 100% honest with. I think that is one of the reasons why I fell so hard for him. Even when I cussed him out, he loved me the next day. So our relationship was sort of built on this f*cked up foundation where I disrespected him, but he stuck around.

Well as time progressed, L learned some things of his own. He learned that he didn't want to put up with my crap anymore, so he started to lash back at me. See where this is going? Two hot tempers burning each other by saying whatever is on their minds. BAD combo, man.

We spent a couple of YEARS in that dark place, and literally "broke up"... many times. I remember once he packed up my stuff and dropped my ass at the curb in front of my parents' house. They came home from dinner to find me pacing around mumbling incoherently. Not a good scene. But we always made up in the end. We were that annoying couple that broke up, but were back together before you could say "unhealthy relationship."

This brings me back to my point: respect. We needed to learn how to respect each other. It has been much harder to both learn and earn respect than it would have been to just have had it in place from the beginning. That much I know to be true. I feel like once you have "gone there", once you have said the horrible things, they are really hard to take back. People get hurt by your words. They remember. It's only natural.

I know now that respect is at the heart of any worthy relationship. If you don't have that, ultimately, you are saying, "Hey, I don't need you in my life. If I didn't have you around, I'd be okay." I know that is something I never want to say to my husband, nor my parents, nor anyone important to me.

If you are a couple that has respected each other from Day One, I think that is amazing. Seriously. Don't ever go down the dark path. But even if you do (for whatever reason), know that you can get it back. All is not lost. Hey, sometimes life throws us curve balls, and we say things we don't mean. Or we say things we think we mean, and then promptly want to take them back ten seconds later. You may have lost some credibility in the eyes of your spouse, but you can get it back if you work hard and show through your actions that you feel badly.

What role does respect play in your relationship or marriage? Ever hit a rough patch and lose that respect?

4 comments:

  1. I don't think we've ever hit a rough patch in the respect department but I then again, this may be the first time I've evet actually thought about it. It's one of those things that is a constant. I'm not sure if that makes sense.

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  2. Such an important thing to have and I think a work in progress for a lot of relationships. I am definitely the more bratty one, but he keeps me in check and has really been instrumental in helping me be aware of when I become more demanding and try to be more compromising.

    I say it can be a work in progress because as our lives shift and fill with career, expanding families, and less time - it can be extremely easy to take our loved ones for granted. But no matter what, we still gotta respect our partners!

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  3. I've thought a lot about this one. And respect is something that's earned, just like trust. A certain amount is given, but then it must be earned, or chipped away at.

    I feel that marriage is the last vestiage of honor in our society. "Husband" or "Wife" is a position that deserves to command a certain amount of respect - not only from the world, but from each other.

    I would suggest going at it from this aspect, "How would you want any other people your spouse comes across to treat him?" They take their cues on what is okay or not okay from him AND from those closest to him. As his wife, that means you. So why not treat him in the same fashion as you'd want those people to treat him?

    Sometimes we forget that part of "spouse" is BEST FRIEND. And being a friend means actively supporting one another. It means giving. It means trusting. Give what you want in return. If you want him screaming and yelling at you when he's mad, than feel free to dish it out. If you'd rather he sit down and talk to you calmly, even when its hard and his feelings are hurt, than try that.

    Reletionships are tricky, but they are just like a child. They grow based on how well they are nourished. ;)

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  4. @M and C: I think the fact that you haven't thought about it is probably a good thing!
    @Chic 'n Cheap Living: Very wise words. I agree with you completely. It is very important to have the kind of self-awareness you are talking about!
    @J. Darling: Sometimes when you enter a relationship when you are young or immature, you take things for granted. That is why experience helps us so much, and often allows us to appreciate what we have in ways that we never would have before. L and I have kinda grown up together, and our interactions haven't always been adult-like nor appropriate nor respectful. I guess the point of my post was to bring that to light, but also to reflect upon the fact that through the low points, I have re-discovered just how essential respect is in marriage and in any relationship, for that matter. I agree that we shouldn't forget that our spouses are our best friends, and to always honor that.

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