The most indispensable quality in a relationship is respect. When two people deeply respect each other as human beings, they can deal with a lot of challenges and differences of opinion.
The greatest threat to mutual respect is a spouse’s intense needs and fears, which often manifest themselves as controlling or demeaning behavior. While it’s fine to disagree or to be angry, there must be an underlying sense of respect for each other.
It is absolutely critical not to talk to one another disrespectfully. When one person starts speaking disdainfully, with a sneer or a sense of superiority, the other must stop it immediately. It’s up to you to make it perfectly clear that you won’t take it.
When someone goes after you like a judgmental parent, you have to set a boundary. Don’t respond to the advice or accusation. Say meaningfully, “Please, do not speak to me that way,” “Don’t do that,” or “Excuse me?”
Love based on respect requires a sense of self-respect on your part. Moreover, people who exude self-respect by stopping others from crossing a line or talking down to them are more attractive than those who accept it. Expecting respect is a more powerful aphrodisiac than unconditional positive regard.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD