We all like to feel respected; to feel that our voice is truly heard and that our opinion has weight.
It is crucial to instill an element of respect in your relationships, too. Just as we like to feel validated, so too, does our partner.
But how do we show our partner that we really respect them? Sure, you can say it all you like, but at the end of the day, your actions will speak far louder than your words.
Here are some sure-fire ways to show your partner how much you respect them:
- Learn to actively listen –you’ve had a busy day and you are tired and you have emails banking up that should garner your immediate attention. We all get it. But the problem here lies in the fact that your partner is trying to talk to you, and you appear disengaged, disconnected or disinterested. Turn off your emails, the television and your ‘work-brain’, and allow your partner 5 or 10 minutes of uninterrupted conversation where you pay them your undivided attention. Maintain eye contact, nod and smile, repeat phrases back to your partner to show that you are really hearing them. Don’t attempt to ‘fix’ any slights that your partner may bring up, but acknowledge them and the feelings you partner is sharing by saying things, “Sure, that sounds like a frustrating situation to be in” or “What do you think your options to deal with this are?”.
- Be reliable – if your partner comes to your relationship with a specific request, show that their needs matter to you by tending to the required actions in a timely fashion. By prioritising your partner’s request, you are able to convey that they are indeed important to you, and that you respect them enough to hear them, and act on them accordingly. Even if the task is as simple as putting the washing out or deciding on what to have for dinner, your partner is coming to you because they need help, and even a small task can show them that you are consistently reliable.
- Practise gratitude – it is easy to become complacent in long-term relationships, especially when both parties are busy running families, careers and everyday lives that require lots of attention. Try to show your partner that you appreciate them by telling them something you are grateful for every single day. You could focus on emotional availability, physical assistance or a personality trait like, “Thank you so much for being there for me this weekend”, “I’m so glad you remembered to get the milk, I completely forgot, thank you!” or “I love the way you smile”. Noticing small gestures and traits will awaken the love and passion within you for your partner and will help them to understand the deep connection and appreciation you have for them. Plus, compliments are a great ego-boost, even more so if you declare your pride to others, too!
- Be kind – conflict is inevitable in relationships but how you handle them can greatly affect the outcome for both you and your partner. Avoid laying blame, pointing finger and using terms like ‘always’ and ‘never’ however tempted or angry you may be. Consider your disagreement a problem you both have to overcome, rather than a competition between you against your partner. Speak gently, and with a view to move forward, rather than bringing up complaints from the past. If you feel yourself beginning to lose control or going back over the same topic again and again, agree with your partner to take a break and to revisit the discussion when you’ve both had time to cool off. Consider how the problem will affect you both in one year’s time – gaining perspective may help you decide if this really is a big issue, or if it something you can chalk up to a learning experience. Remember, everyone makes mistakes, and no relationship or person is 100% perfect. If your partner has ever afforded you patience and forgiveness, you’ll understand how respected you felt and may be more inclined to offer your loved one the same assurances.
The way you speak to, listen to and respond to your partner sends a very clear message about how you feel about them. While these simple approaches to showing your respect may seem obvious, if you really take stock about your most recent interactions with your partner, you may be surprised to realise that we don’t always make respectful interactions a priority. Set yourself a challenge to be mindful of each and every conversation with your partner over the next week, employing these attitudes and showing respect for them. The beauty of a respectful relationship is that you may well find your partner notices your newfound attitude, and will repay you by reciprocating your positive changes in his/her interactions with you.