Besides the parent-child relationship, the husband-wife relationship is the most profound relationship you’ll ever have in life. At least in western civilization, an exemplary spousal relationship is built on romance, mutual friendship, a sense of respect, and a sense of partnership. Having a good marriage partnership requires several thing, but two that do not always go hand-in-hand: a passion for your spouse and a sense of respect for them.
Passion makes us do crazy things, and how we react to passion is sometimes good and sometimes bad. Passion and desire is probably what got you into this relationship, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you respect your relationship partner. Here’s why respecting your lover is so important to maintaining the wife-husband relationship: passion may fade over time, but respect tends to be longer-lasting. Long after her beauty fades and his manly figure becomes pear-like, your regard and appreciation of your spouse’s other qualities will remain.
Studies show that our words and actions aren’t just formed from our thoughts, but our actions and words also form our thoughts. If you get in the habit of disrespecting your spouse–even if you ultimately have a deep and abiding respect–the very act of being disrespectful is going to erode your respect for your husband or wife. When you show disdain and contempt for your spouse, they have one of two choices. They either ignore your behavior, in which the thought enters your mind that they don’t demand respect. Or they demand respect, thus lowering themselves to your level. The first leads to a steady erosion of esteem, while the second tends to cause fights and acrimony that erodes your image of your spouse. So here are simple steps you can take to maintain a good husband-wife relationship.
Don’t Make Demands – Say Please
Don’t make demands. Instead make requests of your spouse. An ultimatum sets up a situation where your spouse either caves in or starts a fight. Marriage is like international diplomacy–always leave the other party an escape route. Whenever you make a request of your wife or husband, always say please when making the request and always say thank you upon receipt of the favor.
Say I Love You Often
Every single day of your marriage, tell your spouse “I love you”. You might think a person doesn’t need this reminder every day, but if you get in the habit of not saying how you feel, you get in the habit of shutting your lover out emotionally. These simple words are never more important when things take a turn for the worse.
Saying I love you is more important when you’ve been fighting. If you have a fight, don’t walk away without saying you love your spouse. Love shouldn’t be conditional, so make this explicit. You might not be feeling much love right now, but this reaffirms you have a deeper relationship than the simple disagreement of the moment.
Thank Your Spouse for the Simple Things
When your wife (or husband) makes a meal, washes the clothes, or cleans a room, thank her for it. When your husband (or wife) fixes the garage door, mows the lawn, or cleans out the swimming pool, thank him. Simple acknowledgement that these actions are appreciated go a long way to making the household run smoother.
Husbands Should Avoid Bullying
Men tend to get what they want by using their masculine traits. Guys like to debate and cite facts. Many raise their voices and “bow up” when challenged. Other men might not think a thing about this, but their wife and children are going to perceive this as an attempt at intimidation. As your kids grow up, attempts to berate and belittle them and/or their mother is going to be resented. Even if their mother lets this kind of conduct pass, as your kids get bigger and more mature, the tactic won’t work as well. The wife, on the other hand, may or may not respond in kind, but either way, they’ll resent you for it. Even if you win the argument, they’ll make you pay with passive aggressive behavior.
Wives Should Avoid Nagging
Using a term like “nag” may be outmoded, but women are social creatures and tend to have more energy for certain social behaviors than their husbands. One method of revenge is to stay after their husband relentlessly in his moments of strength and weakness, what soldiers called in the old days “winning by sap instead of by storm”. A women shouldn’t save up her grievances and continue to chip away at her husband’s confidence, authority, and self-respect, because this only causes lingering resentments.
Gender Roles Don’t Matter
The last two gender roles might be reversed in a marriage. If so, the bullying wife and the nagging husband are no more positive. Whether you are the one who dominates the relationship or the one who makes comments from the sidelines, this behavior has to stop. You can’t tear down the confidence and self-esteem of your loved ones, or else your relationship is a negative one. One important factor I’ve only touched on plays into all of this: the kids.
Children See Your Example
However you act in the husband-wife relationship, your children are going to see and note this behavior. By misbehaving towards your spouse, you are teaching them to misbehave towards them. If you treat your husband or wife with respect, you’ll teach your kids to do the same.
Several times in this article, I’ve made analogies to diplomacy and war, so let me make one more. If you and your wife are like two warring nations, then your children are like neighboring powers who see the war from the sidelines. When they see the two of you in conflict, some of them tend to become co-belligerents and join in the same verbal tactics. They learn from your poor example.
Because that’s the case, everything I said above goes double when the two of you are around the kids. When the children are in the room or the car, always treat your wife politely, point out the little things she does, tell her “I Love You”, avoid bullying or nagging, and don’t pull your kids into your troubles. When the two of you present a united front, you are teaching your children important lessons about married couples, behavior to their family, and showing respect for the people you love.