Much has been said, here and elsewhere, about the importance of communication in keeping a relationship functional and healthy. But something happened over the weekend that brought the issue of communicating into focus. The issue of respect.
Many times the problem is that one partner wants to discuss issues as they occur whether they be mutual decisions, feelings or problems while the other responds minimally if at all in the discussion. But it was a different scenario I overheard from my window on a warm, Sunday afternoon as my neighbors were getting ready to leave for the beach.
Apparently the lady of the house was still gathering her things. But the man (who had been working on the car earlier) was in an uproar yelling from outside and wanted to get on the road as soon as possible. (To -begin- having a fun time presumably.) He stood there yelling at her as though she were a little child with foul profanity thrown in to emphasize his disdain for her being the cause that they had not yet left. She increasingly raised her voice trying to explain they should take the other car while getting her things. Back and forth they argued and demeaned each other until he finally threw out an ultimatum and stomped off to the car to wait for her.
Angry as I was, I was actually more sad to witness all this. We cannot trust or endear ourselves to every person we meet, but we hope that we might have at least two places of refuge… our loved one and our home, where we can know kindness and giving. He didn’t think to hear what she had to say and make a decision with her in a kind manner. He didn’t think to help her carry the things that were slowing her down. He didn’t think, period. Why? Because long ago certain lines of respect had been crossed and accepted as broken. She did not bring things to a halt and say, “I will not tolerate your tone and we are going nowhere until this is settled.” He did not have the humility to admit he had lost his temper and ask forgiveness. Instead, respect was trampled and accepted as the current mode of “communication”.
It is often said we must give respect before we can expect it. But when we have treated our mate with respect and instead receive a loathing, demeaning attitude in return, it becomes our duty to ourselves (as well as to the maturity of our mate) to let them know that such disrespect will not be tolerated. It is at this point that fear and emotions cause our thinking to collapse. Part of the reason is that we did not make it clear from the beginning of the relationship that respect was an important, mutual expectation.
Fear plays into things as well as we think, “If I make an issue of requiring respect, I will lose my mate.” Losing our beloved is a tragedy, but when our supposed “loving mate” treats us with disrespectful tones they are no longer acting in a “loving” manner, much less proving themselves to be much of a mate. Our emotions can hold us back from stating that respect is not negotiable as well. It is easy to get more caught up in the flurry of the fight and “winning” or “giving them hell” that the idea of making such wars unacceptable to begin with gets left behind.
Requiring respect of your mate does not mean they must cater or agree with you. It only means that when they do disagree with you, they treat you with the respect that is due to not only a fellow adult, but an endeared, intimate loved one. It has also been said, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This is why it is all the more important to fight against the slow moving shadow of mediocrity that causes us to think we can treat our beloved any less precious than the day we first desired them. It is in even the little things we do, almost as though courting our loved one, winning their affections even after they’ve been promised daily with kindnesses that we keep respect in the forethought of our minds. This is part of why I believe a man should love his woman with as much or more care as he takes for his own flesh, for in doing so he exercises the love and respect towards her that he would want for himself.
I suppose I could have gone out there in some sense of righteous indignation and offered to begin beating the man physically for his blatant offenses to this woman. I could have lectured him on the issues presented here. But in all reality I don’t believe either would have been to much avail. Unless people desire actual change, unless they -require- nothing less than love and respect of their mate.. for themselves and the sake of a loving relationship no amount of lecturing or heated animation from a third party is going to change anything. However, when two people build their relationship by giving love and respect, and not allowing anything less to creep its ugly head into things, issues such as which car to take to the beach would not be so grievous to endure or observe.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.