Only the second blog and I’m changing the sequence already. I just couldn’t make it work, writing about being supportive without first talking about respect. So, here we go!
A Home must respect you
A Home is or should be an environment of mutual support and respect. The Home is where you need to feel valued most of all. When you walk in that door you need to know that you are in a place where you are wanted. You shouldn’t have to fear voicing your feelings on any subject, especially those involving your Home. In fact, your opinions should be asked for. There is no place in the Home for being belittled or ignored when you speak up.
You should never be treated with disrespect to your person. This is exactly why I felt the subject of respect should follow the one about violence. There are more kinds of violence however, than being struck. The verbal put-downs that all too often happen in the Home simple have no place! You do not have to put up with a partner who is constantly referring to you with words that are demeaning or rude. You have the right to insist that they do not continue. If they do continue, then you or your partner should find the door. You deserve a life with dignity!
If yours is a Home with children then respect is crucial to raising them. Children will learn the habits they see in the Home. If a son sees his father treat his wife with disrespect, that son will then think it’s proper for him to be disrespectful to his mother and any future wife. The cycle has just been continued. If a daughter sees it, she will either learn to hate her father (bad) or she will learn to expect it in her future relationships (worse!).
If disrespect in your Home is angering, then disrespect in public from your partner is not only angering, it’s so embarrassing that it actually, physically, hurts. It is another form of unfaithfulness. That may seem a little strong but think about it. You should be the most important person in your partner’s life. If they are being disrespectful in public, they are telling you and the world what little value they have for you. If you do not have respect from the one you love then as I said before, you do not have a partner; you have a room-mate.
If you are recovering from a relationship where disrespect was a common occurrence there is another form of respect you must have in your life, respect for yourself. One of the most damaging results of an abusive relationship is self-loathing, the feeling that you have somehow deserved the lack of respect you received. The damage to the opinion you have of yourself hits from two directions. The first is that when you have been told a lie long enough you start to think there is at least some basis for it. The feeling that “Well, if I had been a better this or a better that, I would have had more respect.” That’s exactly what the abuser wants you to think. The abuser wants you to think you have somehow deserved his lack of respect. Even if it were true that you are or were doing something your partner disapproves of it is no excuse for abuse. If they disapprove of something you were doing, or saying they should attempt to communicate their feelings and if there was no solution or common ground then again, it’s time to find the door.
The other damaging side of self-loathing is when you have realized that you have tolerated the abuse for far too long. This is the feeling that says “How could I have put up with that bozo, how could I have been so blind?” It is twice as damaging because you are now disrespecting yourself. If bozo finds out, he is going to be ecstatic. If you think about it you should realize that it is normal not to want to give up. If you ever loved the person it is normal to think that you can work it out, that you can fix it. If the words faithfulness or fidelity mean anything to you then you will try, and try, and try again to make it work. Again, it is normal to be that way; unfortunately the abusive partner doesn’t feel that way. Don’t beat yourself up over this just be glad you are out of it. Focus on realizing that you are a unique creation. A human being who deserves and should demand respect and the first person you should demand it of is yourself! Do something you are good at whether it be at work or at home. Do the things that make you feel good. Buy that Harley, go on that cruise, volunteer at the women’s center helping other women out of abusive environments, anything that is rewarding to you.
When you are ready to find that relationship you deserve remember, if you are to thrive you can’t spend your life downcast, waiting for the next disappointing comment. If you are to thrive you must have the respect of the person you love. If you are to thrive you must feel like, you must BE, the most respected person in your partner’s life.