Respect is one of those concepts we all hear often, but it seems fewer understand how it works and its impact in marriage.
Here’s an all too common story from our marriage that will give you a better grasp on respect:
Casey often goes into this hyper-focus work mode with music blasting in his earbuds as he’s typing away on his laptop. In comes Meygan, at the moment filled with excitement about a personal breakthrough. Upon interrupting Casey to vent and process what she’s feeling, she is nonverbally assaulted with a look of complete annoyance.
Does this look familiar? This is where we have to pause this scene and ask, how does a spouse respond with respect after being treated this way? Depending on who’s reading this, you’re siding with one of us, but you could say we both feel disrespected in that moment. Here’s an alternate version of what could have happened.
Casey – While being interrupted makes him feel disrespected, he chooses to take a break, close his laptop and focus on what his best friend and lover is saying.
Meygan – While feeling like a total inconvenience, instead of criticizing for the lack of courtesy, she quickly forgives his dirty look and asks him when a good time to talk would be.
It’s in these small moments that reveal the health and vitality of your marriage. Courageous couples fight the urge to pull away or fight back with a hurtful comment. Instead, they have cheat sheets or a list of creative ways to act on respect, at the moment they most lack the creativity to show it.
Here’s a list of 15 ways to act on your respect for each other that you might want to keep handy!
Show common courtesy with saying “please” and “thank you.”
Recall a funny story when you were dating each other.
Send a romantic text.
List out 5 things you are thankful in your marriage.
Apologize when you’re wrong.
Extend forgiveness before being asked.
Make their concerns, your concerns.
Listen with empathy and don’t minimize their feelings.
Limit your screen time, especially around each other.
Kiss for at least 15 seconds.
Offer to give your spouse the day off from responsibilities.
Compliment your spouse daily.
Surprise each other at work with a lunch date.
Ask about their goals and how you can work together on them.
Don’t interrupt when they’re talking.
The choice to love, honor, and respect your mate will push you to the limits of what you feel you are capable of. So then, it’s the courage to choose to act in love when you least feel like it. That’s how you define respect.
Anyone can do the easy days of marriage. In fact, rarely during the hard times do we feel like respecting our spouse. A common phrase with Marriage365 is “I CHOOSE LOVE.” We surround ourselves with this as our mantra because it reminds us that love and respect inside marriage is a choice that you make. It’s the choice that you make after your spouse snaps back a comment loaded with sarcasm, forgets your anniversary or interrupts you while typing away on your laptop.
Now its your turn! Sit down with your spouse and create your own cheat sheets. Ask them ways you can show love. Make them specific and clear.
PS: If you found this blog post helpful, make sure to check out our Naked Conversations resource. It’s a great way to further connect with your spouse and take your marriage to the next level.