What I Learned from 40 Years of Marriage
Respect: to admire someone deeply as result of their abilities, qualities or achievements.
Synonyms: to admire, think highly of, have a high opinion of or honor
The above words are great definitions of respect but when it comes down to our daily lives, they don't tread water if they truly don't exist toward our spouse or children. If we can't figure out how to show respect to our spouse we will probably not show or be a good example of it to our children.
We meet a wonderful guy, fall in love and we are sure he has all of the above qualities until we marry, the honeymoon period is over and reality sets in: my husband isn’t perfect. He sees all my faults and points them out. He doesn't love me for who I am, but I haven't changed since we said I do. Who the heck is he to criticize, complain or try to tell me what or how to do something!
That's where it starts and we forget the above definition of Respect, it flies out the window. We forget to honor and respect him and he forgets to show his love for me by not spending time with me, telling me he loves me or simply bringing me flowers. It becomes a vicious cycle. We complain and we tell each other all the things we see wrong in the other person. And, of course, we do it nicely and at the best times, but somehow they still don’t seem to catch on.
In our everyday life we need to remember to look for the positive in the other person and, most importantly, mention that thing to them. There has to be at least one thing he did right today. Praise helps to bring about positive reactions. I find that if we take the time to be positive and uplift someone, spouse or child, it helps our relationship become better. It helps us to focus on the good, continue to admire and think highly of our spouse, and in most cases they will try to live up to that praise. Which one of us doesn't feel good when our boss praises us? When that happens, don't we continue to do it right and try harder to do other things well?
However, in our intimate relationship with our spouse it's so easy to see the things that are wrong with them! Then, we meet up with our best girlfriends and we start to gripe, complain. How easily we join in, "I hate it when __fill in the blank__.” I've found that complaint without looking for positive solutions or a way to honor the other person does nothing but cause more conflict in my marriage. Then I get even more uptight when my husband does that _____ again, but this time I'm even more upset because my girlfriends have validated my perspective.
I'm not telling you to become a doormat but, speaking from experience, complaining doesn't always help. Next time you're frustrated with him and you meet up with the girls, vent but try to turn the griping session into a positive solution session. It will help all your marriages if you share positive ways to deal with problems, brain storm how to solve the issue or read a book that deals with the issue and share. Think of ways to respect the man you chose to marry. In all my years of marriage I found that respect and love begets respect and love.
Who is going to do it first? ME!
Having just celebrated their 40 year anniversary, Carol-Ann and Mathew reflect back on what has made their marriage strong over the years. They now have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren with more on the way!