today, in a public area, saw a husband shouted at the wife, ignoring the eyesight of the people surround and how his wife feel. am not sure what was he scolding about, what i am sure is, people around are hating the husband. It’s so annoying! i recon, irregardless if the wife have done anything wrong, she do not deserve to be treated like that! it’s so uncivilized. there is no respect at all!
this is what i hate in a relationship, this is one of the reasons, me not eagerly looking forward to get married. ..
anyway, i found this article in google, it’s rather long. but just to share with you…
The Answer is Mutual Respect
by David W. Edgerly, Ph.D.
Copyright 1998 All rights reserved.
Have you heard the news? Active listening and validation is out! The solution to successful partnership (happy marriages) is for the male to “give in” to the female. Just go along with her and let her have her way.
Recent psychological research, at least as the media presents it, has established that giving in is the only key to happy partnerships. However, I would strongly argue this misses the point in the same way that active listening and validation missed the point. The point is mutual respect.
Do you respect your partner? Often, in relationship counseling, I find that one or both partners believe themselves to be truly better than (maybe even superior to) their partner. Not just better at certain tasks or skills…but better as a whole person. This is what leads to the idea that if only one’s partner could be “fixed” then the partnership would be happy and successful.
The trouble is most people aren’t broken. Most of us are fully functional as human beings and we know it. Life was working before we allied with our partner and will continue to work even if they are gone. We are with our partner because it enhances our life, makes us even more functional and hopefully happier. Not to say that everyone can’t improve in certain skill areas. The first three articles in this series are clearly about the need for each of us to improve. But unless you can’t feed and bathe yourself you are not broken. And when a partner implies, or states, that you are broken it has to feel crazy.
Respecting our partner has to be built on the recognition that they are fully functional and remarkably capable people. You partner may not be as good as you are at organization, or baseball, or cooking, or gardening or whatever. But, guess what? You aren’t as good as they are at many things. Which of you is better? The only answer in a successful partnership is neither!
Chelona (my partner) and I are both avid students of Kickboxing and martial arts. This often leads people to ask me which of us is better at sparring. If I want to skip a long explanation I simply reply that she is. But the longer answer is neither of us is better. Chelona has primarily what is known as fast twitch muscle. This gives her the speed of lightening. I have slow twitch muscle. I’m not fast but I can last forever. Chelona has hands that throw punches with strength and fury. Her punches scare me when we are sparring. My legs pack the power of a Mack truck. She is afraid of my kicks. As a result we spar very differently. But neither is better. If it’s a short fight or she can consistently get in close she’ll always get the better of me. If I can drag out the fight and keep her at leg range, I’ll get the better of her. We each respect the skills and talents of the other.
Partnership can never be about whom is better. Partnership is about recognizing each party’s strengths and about recognizing our own weaknesses. Notice that in the weakness area your task is to recognize your own weaknesses without a primary focus on your partner’s. That is their job. As you each recognize your weak areas this can be a point of discussion and understanding (perhaps a place for active listening) so you know how and when to cover for each other. For instance, I often have better radar on the streets than Chelona. But her radar in professional settings is usually far better than I have. By freely discussing this there is the opportunity for us to capitalize on each other’s strengths and cover for each other’s weaknesses. On projects she is much more skilled in design and I’m good at remaining optimistic in the face of struggles. Here again, when I can own my weaknesses there is the opportunity to maximize our gifts and cover for each other’s weaker areas.
Receiving help and giving help requires us to be able to understand and appreciate our own skills and deficiencies as well as those of our partner. For many people, accepting assistance is harder than giving assistance. Somewhere, usually early in life, kids learn not to say, “I don’t know the answer” or “I don’t know how to do that”. Instead children are taught to fake it, change the subject or not try something new. Being right and being proficient are so valued that to acknowledge a deficient area becomes taboo.
When you can begin to recognize and accept your weaker areas then you’ve started the process of accepting help. You can hardly ask for assistance if you don’t know where you need it. The previous articles may help in evaluating your own strengths and weaknesses in the relationship area.
Of course, to ask for and accept help you have to allow for the fact that often in those areas your partner is better at some things than you are. Also, you have to understand that even in areas where you are strong your partner may have a more useful idea than you have come up with yet. Chelona and I spend a lot of time brainstorming. Even in areas where I am exceptionally competent getting her ideas pushes me to excel even further. In fighting the obvious place for Chelona to instruct me is in the skill of punching or getting an early round knockout. However, even though I am more skilled with my legs her input about my kicks is often far more insightful than my own. Your partner will have a perspective or perception that expands beyond your greatest abilities or dreams. Let them give you that input. Active listening and validation isn’t dead. What kills relationships is the lack of mutual respect.
Giving help, while easy to offer, isn’t always so easy to give. There are skills involved in offering help. First, and perhaps most important, the person has to be interested in receiving assistance. So get permission. Help without permission is a violation of your partner. Permission can only be granted if your partner has the option to refuse the help. On occasion a partner may want to struggle a little longer or get their ideas or skills more organized before they are ready for further input. Mutual respect includes the ability to wait.
Assuming you have permission to provide assistance the next step is to make the help constructive. This is often more an issue of style than content. The best ideas presented poorly get lost. The input needs to be realistic. When Chelona began helping me write there was no way she could turn me into a Hemingway. After several years of gentle and steady input I no longer put seven ideas into the same sentence, most of the time. The input needs to come in a voice that is positive and pleasant. That means no sarcasm and no growling. The input has to be accurate. For example, if you are telling your partner their input on some occasion felt derogatory it doesn’t work to say “You’re input is so derogatory”, implying that is the only way they speak. Accurate input could say, “That particular comment felt derogatory.”
Next, help works best if it builds on skills a person already has. For instance, if you want to teach someone to tie a fancy knot start with the fact they already tie their own shoes well. One of the things I particularly like in most forms of Martial Arts is that each step, at least after the first few basic moves, builds on moves which have already been learned or even mastered. Besides providing a faster basis for learning this method helps your partner feel competent as they move into areas which are new or difficult.
Finally, be encouraging. When you anticipate success your partner will feel better. In couples therapy I often face the frustration of helping a person develop a learning plan only to have the partner say, “Yeah, it’s a great idea but they’ll never do it.” When that happens I know the plan, which was just developed, has to be put on hold. Much of the hope and anticipation was just lost for the person trying to learn. Encouragement also works best if it recognizes small gains. When my sentences began to have only 2-4 ideas in them Chelona told me how much more concise my writing was becoming rather than telling me I still clumped too many ideas together. She then went on to help me “make it even more concise”.
When your partner feels like you believe in them, admire them and like them they will be more open to giving you assistance as well as receiving yours. The basis of mutual respect is knowing, appreciating and reinforcing your partner’s competency and value. If you don’t believe they are competent and valuable then you are not their friend. If you aren’t telling them regularly about their competency and value then it is time to begin.
In relationships of mutual respect there is no “giving in”. The concept of “giving in” remains caught in a hierarchical power struggle. This is the core issue. Mutual respect means we often go with an idea other than our own because we have total faith in our partner. Neither active listening nor giving in will lead partners to feel safe if either partner believes himself or herself to be better. The journey for partners is to advance the team through mutual growth, success and respect.