Do You Show Love and Respect in Your Relationship?

Do You Show Love and Respect in Your Relationship?

We were at one of our groups discussing relationships with a woman who is in a happy marriage of 53 years. She shared her thoughts that it is the seemingly simple things that make a marriage work.

She felt that often relationship success can come down to partners speaking with respect, love and kindness in their tone of voice, and that this creates an environment for loving interactions.

She asked if we have noticed how some people speak with each other, and how disrespectful, even denigrating their approach to their partner is. It was her contention that this behavior leads to many of the problems people have.

We have to agree. We have seen it too frequently. One partner will be dismissive and often critical in words and tone of voice. This seems to create a defensive posture in the partner being treated this way, and often sets up an argumentative tone in the relationship, or at the very least a passive-aggressive response in the partner.

How does this happen with partners who love each other and have chosen to be together? And even more important, how can this be changed?

It’s an odd phenomenon that we humans frequently treat the ones we love and feel safest with in the least loving manner. Too often, we see and hear of relationships where, after the heady, hallucinatory courtship period has passed and people feel committed, they feel safe enough to criticize their partner.

It is as though once we know we are loved, we can share all that is wrong or bothers us. We can let out our negative energies because we are sure of not being left. This happens frequently between parents and children, and can also come forth with mates.

We all mumble under our breath at times about how other people should behave – they need to be managed and controlled, told to pick up their litter and drive properly, keep their voices down and their kids under control.

Unfortunately, this form of thinking often leads to a change in attitude toward our loved ones as well. When we speak without honor or respect, our attention shifts, and more and more we see the negative and become critical. Without realizing it, our focus can change and that which we love recedes behind the screen of the imperfections we are looking at.

Often relationship success comes down to speaking with respect, love & kindness in your voice #quote Click To TweetDon’t let that happen. It’s a partnership, for goodness sake, not a social correctness test requiring 100% to pass. We’re all flawed human beings.

To return to your feelings of love and regard, start listening to yourself. Are you expressing the love that you feel toward your partner? When was the last time you expressed that to them or to yourself for that matter? What is it you really feel toward them, and is it being communicated in your words and actions?

Whether you are the person who is being criticized or the one acting in this manner, the same inner listening is required. Work with yourself. Listen to yourself. When those irritations arise, use them to examine your own quirks and expectations. They are like the pains your chiropractor induces to straighten your spine. You should have learned by now that you can’t change other people, so that only leaves yourself.

Once you have truly reviewed and become aware of your own inner feelings, match them to what you are saying and doing. Do they match? Do you spend time letting your partner know all the good and beauty you see in them? Do you show your love in the way you treat them?

For most people, it feels good to express appreciation and regard to those we love. Similarly, constantly complaining and pointing out the negative fills us with bad feelings and dissatisfaction.

Honest communication done without blame, with the true intention to share with your partner what you feel and think, leads to intimacy and union. Without this, criticism and lack of kindness in word and deed lead to estrangement and distance. We all protect ourselves when we feel attacked. If your partner is to be your companion, the one always on your side, you cannot treat them as the adversary.

Make it a practice to speak your love with words of appreciation, a tone of voice of respect and an honoring of the person who is your partner. This will make you feel as good as it does them!

Photo credit: Andy Samasarena
Photo note: Phil and Maude

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6 Comments on “Do You Show Love and Respect in Your Relationship?

  1. I find I am solely interested in my fundamental relationship with the world, which is 100% reflected in the relationship with my very forgiving partner (of 39 yrs.), for which I consider myself endlessly lucky, hahaha. But what has concerned me more and more over the years is this Myself Against God feeling, basically, which translates for me to all humans. Even cactus gets a fair shake, but not those humans….so I get to face my violence, resentment, wrath, and anger every single moment when I step out of my room. This post of yours, P and M, is very soothing.

    • Yeah, my reactions to what is happening in politics is a real challenge. I’m all for one-world rather than tribalism, but that means I have to include those with whom I vehemently disagree?! Wikipedia says:

      “The paradox of tolerance states that if a society is tolerant without limit, its ability to be tolerant is eventually seized or destroyed by the intolerant. Karl Popper described it as the seemingly self-contradictory idea that in order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must retain the right to be intolerant of intolerance.”

      The best I can do is to not start out hostile, because that only inflames the forces that cause tribalism.

  2. Spot on – Kindness is the secret sauce. And when the instinct is otherwise – as you say “start listening to yourself” – become an observer of what is happening and stop it. I try – not always successfully – to say to myself “dismiss it” whenever the wrong urge – or even an errant thought – begins to bubble up.
    I recall reading – a year or so ago – a survey about what spouses wanted most from their spouse and it was kindness. Simple and profound when you think about it.
    I like to repeat: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Dalai Lama

    • That’s a great quote from the Dalai Lama. He was just* a person who has been trained in kindness all his life. Imagine that everybody had such training!

      * Unless you believe he is chosen by searching for the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama.

      • I choose to believe he is “just a person” who was – as you say – trained in kindness. Beliefs beyond that get into a wrestling match with my rational self.

  3. Good advice, though sometimes it seems people don’t even realize what kind of tone of voice they are using. I am particularly thinking of one of my clients who i would like to send this to but i don’t think she would understand what we are saying.

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