Two years ago, we discussed the word RESPECT in one of our polls on "Positive Moods And Emotions." From the results of that poll, we learned that the respect from our spouse or lover was MOST important to those that participated. It was followed by respect from one's Mom and then Dad. Thus it is not a surprise to me that the loss of respect from a lover or spouse, or a Mom or Dad can be the main contributor to family relationships that go sour. In fact I will go on the limb and say that the loss of respect in just about any relationship, can be a main contributor to any souring relationship.
I believe that mutually respectful relationships can create the strongest bonds among human beings. When individuals respect "each other," they tend not to let the other person down. They value the mutual relationship and will go the extra mile to maintain each others admiration and trust. We hear about this all the time with regard to people in combat together in the military. They would do most anything, including risking their own lives, in order to come through for their comrades in battle. These are special bonds formed around of respect.
The loss of respect in relationships can originate from a variety of sources. In long term relationships such as marriage or business partnerships, it's quite unfortunate that time tends to assist the process of individuals taking each other for granted. For instance the vows pronounced on wedding day seem to end with "Till Death Do Us Part." This indicates that all of those promises will last a lifetime. However the statistics show that around 50% of marriages will end in divorce. While most married couples start out with good intentions to have their relationship last forever, it just doesn't work out that way. I think it would be more realistic to end the wedding vows with "till respect due us part!" By doing so, perhaps it would put more emphasis on the importance of respect in the relationship. By studying the meaning of respect and what it takes to maintain it for years, we might save lots of marriages that go sour.
In our poll, we described respect as "an attitude of admiration or esteem toward oneself or others." Married partners have to admire themselves and their spouse not only in the beginning of the relationship, but forever if they want a long term happy relationship together. No one is perfect. However when partners in a relationship dwell on the others imperfections on a daily basis, rather than their positive attributes that will help them admire their partner, then respect for their partner will leak out of the relationship just as it does from a tire with a slow leak. Over time the relationship will be trying to roll on a flat tire which we well know cannot travel very far.
The same phenomenon occurs in business. Partners usually invest together with individuals they respect a great deal. In the beginning of the partnership, just as in marriage, each business partner conducts themselves using the best possible behavior. They come through on their promises and act in a fashion one might expect in a respectful relationship. Time passes on and eventually one of the partners might push the envelope of trust and respect and perhaps take advantage of the other partner in some small way. Feeling let down, partner number two reciprocates and before you know it, respect for each other has slowly leaked out of the business relationship. I have watched this phenomenon occur in many business relationships so many times during my short life span.
As I stated in the beginning of this discussion, all types of relationships are negatively affected by the leakage of respect over time. Parental relationships, friendships, political relationships and customer relationships can all come to a screeching halt from a slow leakage of respect or instantly from a complete blowout, just as a tire experiences on a highway. Either way the loss of respect can be both painful and dangerous to one's health and well being. By understanding the vital role of respect in all relationships, perhaps we can all place more importance in maintaining admiration for each other. That's not to say that one of the partners should ever get a pass for a lack of respect. Respect must be earned and maintained mutually forever by the actions of each partner in all relationships. I believe that most people do not understand the dynamics and importance of respect and therefore need to study these dynamics more carefully, in order to enjoy the many benefits of long term relationships.
It doesn't take a great deal of effort to show your admiration for those you care about. Usually individuals remain in long term relationships because there are more positive than negative characteristics in the relationship. Dwelling on the positives and discussing openly and setting a plan to correct the negatives will help relationships to survive all the trials and tribulations thrown at it. Having a complete understanding of the vital role RESPECT plays in a relationship, could enhance the longevity of many relationships that seem destined to go bad, and enhance the happiness and prosperity once exhibited in the relationship. Perhaps the phrase "Till Respect Do Us Part," could change the very dynamics of long term relationships forever!