Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beyond Love - It Takes Respect

"Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage" crooned Frank Sinatra, "The Chairman of the Board".  Well, Mr. Chairman, true enough. But while love may lead a couple to begin a marriage, it is respect that will enable them to sustain it through thick and thin.

So what are some of the things that can engender the all-important commodity of respect between spouses?  One such factor must certainly be the keeping of promises.

Promise Keeper - Promise Breaker

Some years ago, a friend found himself embroiled in a long period of conflict with his wife. "She expects me to be PERFECT", he complained.  A wise advisor issued him a surprising challenge: "I'll give you until sundown to make a list of all the promises you have made to her and then broken".

At first, my friend was stumped.  But, after awhile, his mental logjam broke and by the next day (he asked for an extension!) he had come up with over 100 broken promises - large and small. This simple exercise helped him to reinterpret the breakdown in his relationship. Maybe his wife didn't expect him to be perfect. Maybe she just wanted him to be reliable.

Respect Squared

Another way to encourage respect from your spouse is to show it.  I'll be the first to say that most of us males are magnetically drawn toward those who show us respect.  So, whether you are a husband or a wife, let me ask you: is there anyone on Planet Earth who should deliver a message of respect to your spouse more than you?

Showing respect invites respect to be shown. This has certainly been true of Robin and me. She is one of my heroes and I enjoy communicating my respect for her to her, and to others as well.  I love it when I observe my married children enjoy a mutually respectful relationship with their spouses, too.  My hope is that the respect I have communicated for them - and for their mother - have contributed to the strength of their own partnerships.


Aretha Franklin, "The Queen of Soul" made a fortune singing a song about the desire to feel respect from their partner.  "Find out what it means to me" she urges again and again in that solid gold voice.  Perhaps if we found out a little more about what r-e-s-p-e-c-t means to love and marriage, we would find new vitality in this relationship and in the other important relationships in our life as well.


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