After watching last night’s episode of Married at First Sight, I feel gut-punched. I want these couples to succeed to the point that I feel a personal investment in their success.
The focus on respect this week got me thinking about how we individually interpret respect based on our upbringing, experiences and each situation.
We show respect when we honor people of authority…parents, teachers, bosses. Self-respect is when we follow a moral compass or set of values we define for ourselves. There is also mutual respect in relationships.
Respect in relationships is built when you consider the thoughts and feelings of your partner over your own. That requires active listening. It also requires eliminating the “my way or the highway” attitude. To make Jon happy, Molly planned a date doing something he loved…rock climbing.
To have respect for another, you must have empathy. This requires putting yourself in your partner’s shoes and looking at the situation through their lens. It’s also about creating a safe place for them to speak their truth without criticism or judgment. Jon is showing empathy by setting aside his personal feelings and honoring Molly’s comfort level with physical intimacy.
Showing respect is having a desire to make decisions as a team. There is no room for demanding or authoritative behavior. Jephte admits it is innate for him to be stubborn. Yet he’s embraced the advice of the experts and conceded the importance of compromise. We’ve seen him go from being unyielding to being willing to negotiate for the good of the relationship.
Respect is honoring all opinions, even those we don’t agree with. Opposing thoughts should never be treated with humiliation or deemed unworthy. Partners need to feel appreciated, validated and understood. Shawniece and Jephte are great at this. They respectfully shared opposing views regarding the potential role of kids in their marriage.
Respect is speaking in a positive manner to and about your partner. Complaining about them to others does not bring resolution to a problem. In fact, going behind their back erodes trust. Instead, work to resolve an issue of conflict within your marriage instead of going outside it. We see Ryan struggling with this. The tension he is creating is palpable.
Finally, respect is accepting responsibility for your words and actions. Constantly placing blame on your partner so you can be “right” is detrimental to the relationship. Take on the attitude that there is no right or wrong, just different. Doing this will result in an outcome that is a win-win for both you and your marriage. Jackie is making an effort to resolve conflict and discuss how best to handle the situation in the future. Ryan is not there yet. In fact, Pastor Cal said his behavior is indicative of self-sabotage.
What can we learn from this? Remember, it’s okay to make mistakes. We all make them every day. Apologizing with sincerity from the heart and a changing your actions can go a long way towards earning, keeping and regaining respect.