We live in a polarized universe. This is why everything needs balance. Our psyche is the exact same way. Our psyche is polarized. A proper balance between love and respect keeps us and our relationship well-balanced and stable.
We all know how important love is to a relationship. Perhaps this is the reason why we describe the intensity of a relationship as being in love. Did you ever hear someone describe their relationship with their fiancé by saying, “I’ve fallen in respect?” Did you ever hear someone describe their relationship with their girlfriend by saying, “I am so in respect her?” Well, neither have I. We are all very aware of how much love can define a relationship. Another fundamental leg upon which every relationship stands is respect. We live in a polarized universe. Which is why everything needs balance. Our psyche is the exact same way. Our psyche is polarized. A proper balance between love and respect keeps us and our relationship well-balanced and stable. Lacking either of the two makes a relationship unstable.
What is respect? I am not talking about the formal respect that comes out of protocol for a dignitary or important person. I am talking about respect for every person we encounter. Respect is the exact opposite of love. Loving someone is embracing them, adoring them, being all over them and giving them. Love is always expressed by drawing closer and closer to the one we are in love with. Respect is giving space to the other person to express their individuality. Respect is creating important and healthy boundaries. This is why we are taught to respect our parents by not interrupting them when they are speaking. We are not supposed to sit in their designated seat. These practices ingrain within children the importance of giving others respect. When another person responds to a situation very differently than we would have, by simply accepting the way they dealt with the situation based on their personality without protesting or telling them what they should have done, we are showing them a tremendous level of respect. When they say they’d rather do this instead of that we don’t stand in judgment of them, we accept that that is what they want and that is fine.
When we respect someone we restore their dignity. We are essentially telling them, “You are ok just the way you are.” Yes, there are times when we do things that should not be respected. However, who G-d made us to be should always be respected. Many relationships fall apart because while there’s plenty of love, there’s very little respect. Everyone needs to be respected, especially from those who are closest to them.
While children must be raised to respect their parents, the best way for parents to raise respectful children is by modeling respect by respecting their children. I don’t mean that parents should give in to every whim of their child. I do mean that while we guide our children based on our values, we always do so in a respectful manner. Crushing our children with demands and orders similar to the way we would instruct a dog, is undignified and disrespectful. When we take the time to explain things to our children, to show them why and to help them understand, we are treating them with dignity. This is the reason why children brought up in an “I said so” home, are resentful of their parents or continuously pursue the respect of their parents.
This is how dictators and authoritarians lead. It’s almost like a cult.
In a cult you have to listen to the leader and if you don’t you get punished.
At home, you do it my way or I will give you the silent treatment.
In a cult, you must submit and not have any independent ideas of your own.
At home, you must do it my way or take to the highway.
In a cult, if you defy orders you get sent out.
At home, if you defy orders you cannot participate.
It is not uncommon that the one thing that is making a spouse more and more distant in a relationship is the fact that they are not being respected. Stop telling them how to do things! If you are experiencing distance in your relationship try this. Practice keeping your mouth closed no matter what you are feeling and permit the other person to do and be the way they want. Yes, it may as an inconvenience for you. This is who you chose to marry and sharing life with another person requires a level of sacrifice. You will also discover that this sacrifice is the best investment you can make because when you respect your spouse you begin discovering a more wonderful spouse than you ever could’ve imagined.
In many ways, respect is the bedrock of a relationship. As long as you respect me I know that we can work things out. The moment someone feels that they are not respected is there really anything to discuss? If you don’t respect me, will we ever be able to work things out?
So why is it so hard for us to respect? This is because respecting means less of me and more of you. Again, this is the exact opposite of love. Love is me being all over you. Respect is me stepping to the side and letting you be you. This is hard for two reasons. The first reason is that it’s difficult minimizing ourselves. The second reason is that it’s difficult for me to accept who you are, what you want or how you do things when they are not the same as me. Sometimes it comes from a fear of what may happen when things are done differently than the way we are accustomed to. Whatever it is we need to get over it and give a lot more respect to our friends, spouses, children and every single human being. Just a little more respect can make an enormous difference in any relationship.
So I leave you, as always, with a question. What is one thing that you can do to show more respect to the people who are dearest to you?