This Habit is one of the 10 Habits of Happy Couples Tina and Michael LeBlanc write about in their blog and in their book that will be released in the Fall of 2022. To check out the other Habits as they’re released weekly, check out the index below. To really use these Habits to work on your relationship, you can access their book – The 10 Habits of Happy Couples – which gives you complete examples of each Habit and exercises that you can do with your partner to develop these Habits in your relationship.
The 10 Habits of Happy Couples
Habit #5: Respect Each Other
Habit #4: Prioritize Your Relationship
Habit #3: Understand Your Fights
Habit #2: Always Repair
Habit #1: Talk Openly and Tune In
Habit #5: Respect Each Other
What we mean by respect here is profound. It’s not just showing respect to your partner but feeling respect for them at a deeper level. Aim to really appreciate and want to know your partner’s opinions even if you disagree with them. Do this because they and their opinion matter to you. It’s believing in one another and trusting that your partner is doing their best with what they have.
Respect has two levels: Respect for yourself & Respect for your partner.
If you only respect your partner but don’t respect yourself, you will have a hard time taking in any of your partner’s gestures of respect towards you and might even undermine them. Or even worse, you may not recognize if your partner is actually treating you disrespectfully… If you’re convinced you don’t deserve respect, you may spend too much energy compensating to prove your worthiness of being loved. That usually backfires and provides less respect from your partner.
Alternatively, if you only respect yourself but not your partner, they will feel and see that every day, be hesitant to show you their true self, and be unable to trust you to have their back.
Without respect at the core of your relationship, you will doubt each other’s intentions, judge each other and not support each other in the same way. You might even start hiding things from your partner. Patience, understanding and trust will be impacted, and this will taint all your interactions and likely create fights that may get nasty.
If respect is not present, there is a greater chance of escalation in fights, which can lead to name-calling and hurt. See more about this at Habit #3 – Understanding your Negative Communication Patterns.
Tips on How to Respect Each Other
You can’t fake respect. You have to feel it. But if you feel it, it doesn’t mean you always show it as much as possible. Be aware of behaviours that may start to cross the line and show a lack of respect that can, without a doubt, snowball into a more significant negative impact on your relationship.
Can you let your partner’s opinions influence you at times? Reserve some time to tell your partner what you respect about them. It feels good to know this and to say this.
How do you talk about your partner to others? Do you give them the benefit of the doubt and be their cheerleader? Or do you talk badly about them and put them down? If it’s the latter, this will just continue eroding your respect for them. This needs to stop.
Can you respect that your partner may have different interests, skills and needs than you? It’s not better or worse, just different. Show interest in knowing more about their interests instead of putting them down. You’ll be surprised to see what happens when you start learning about what gets them passionate. You will likely start to respect them more, and they will feel more respected.
Are you sometimes trying to “take over” one aspect of the relationship as the “expert”? If you respect each other, it means that you are a team everywhere, even if one knows more about something than the other. You still need to consult and approach the decision as a team.
No secrets, period! If you are afraid of speaking your truth, you’re not even giving the relationship a chance to gain more trust. Secrets are lies by omission and act as slow poison in your relationship.
So if you want complete trust in your relationship, focus on respect. Take an honest look at your own self-respect and the respect you have for your partner.
And if this is hard for you, it’s never too late to get help. Do it for yourself first.
About the Authors
Tina and Michael LeBlanc have been happily married since 2003, are parents to two teenage boys, and have over 20 years of combined experience as Licensed Counselling Therapists. Being experts in the Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) model and using it to help couples in their work, Tina and Michael drew from the EFT model to create a list of 10 Habits of Happy Couples. In this series of articles, they take you on a comprehensive walk through the 10 Habits, and with each, they give you an overview followed by specific tips you and your partner can use in your daily life.