I've observed from a far, experienced firsthand, and read about my fair share of good marriages. But sadly, I've also watched, dealt with myself, and read about people in terribly unhealthy relationships. And, I have to say that one of the most consistent characteristics of a happy marriage is respect. Spouses must have respect for one another in order to make it work. Individuals who do not respect one another tend to end up either creating a parent-child relationship with their spouse, having high levels of conflict in their relationship, developing a roommate relationship with their spouse, or even breaking up. Speaking to your spouse with respect is a mindset that is necessary in your marriage.
Respectful communication includes
- acknowledging one another’s thoughts, feelings, and point of view,
- having your partner’s back (even if you think s/he is not correct),
- speaking to your spouse as if s/he is your equal,
- including him/her in your life and in your decisions about life (big decisions like where to move and smaller, everyday decisions like what to do on a Saturday night),
- asking (instead of telling) your mate if s/he wants to do things,
- and speaking to your mate in the same manner that you would speak to a stranger (if you wouldn’t say it to a random person on the street, then you probably shouldn’t say it to the one you love).
On the other hand, respectful communication DOES NOT include
- criticizing your partner (eliminate words like “never” or “always” from your vocabulary when talking about human behavior),
- belittling or demeaning your partner,
- making fun of your partner (this is never cool),
- treating your spouse like a child,
- bossing him/her around (your spouse is an adult, treat him/her like one),
- threatening to leave the relationship ("I'm so done with this" or "I think I want a divorce." You should never say things that threaten your relationship unless you actually want to leave.),
- and giving ultimatums (sorry, but these usually backfire).
The bottom line: marriages cannot successfully survive without respect. Figure it out or get ready for some hardship.-->