It's human nature to want respect from others but in marriage, respect is a necessity. If you feel disrespected by your husband, chances are you won't be happy with your marriage. It helps to examine when and why you feel disrespected so you can decide what changes you need. Respect yourself and show respect to your husband, but know when to seek professional help if you can't resolve the problem on your own.
To be respected by others you must believe you are worthy of respect and dignity. Make a list of your good qualities. If needed, ask friends and family to help remind you of your admirable traits. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes, so don't be too hard on yourself when you slip up in some areas of your life. Don't fall into the trap of justifying his disrespect by blaming yourself for his behavior.
Note every time your husband says or does something that hurts your dignity and look for patterns. For example, his disrespectful comments might center around expressing displeasure in your physical appearance, or perhaps he repeatedly makes large purchases without consulting you. Determine which behaviors are intolerable to you and let him know what these boundaries are so you'll both be aware before he crosses the line.
It's essential that you keep the lines of communication open. Choose an opportune time, such as when your husband is relaxed and in a good mood, to inform him of the changes you need to see. State your position clearly but focus on "I" statements rather than the more accusatory "you." For example, saying, "I feel devalued when my opinion doesn't count," is preferable to saying, "You never take my opinion into account." Don't assume your husband will know what you want without telling him specifically, says relationship coach Jack Ito in his website article, "Get Respect from Your Husband and Improve Your Relationship." Have a response ready in case he crosses a boundary. Stay calm and assert yourself in a non-aggressive manner. This might mean saying something as simple as, "We agreed not to discuss my diet."
Respect is essential for a good relationship, but it needs to be reciprocated between both partners in the marriage. Examine your behavior toward your husband to determine whether you are perhaps treating him disrespectfully. Don't take his contributions to the marriage for granted. Find opportunities to honestly praise him for his efforts and express your appreciation. Looking at situations from your husband's point of view might give you a more sympathetic perspective of where he's coming from. Be willing to compromise when it's fair and appropriate to do so. Treating him with more respect might make him respond in kind.
Your husband's disrespectful behavior can be the result of unresolved issues from his past which may require professional help to overcome. Even if that is not the case, couples' counseling can help the two of you learn new ways of interacting that can increase your respect for each other. If your husband refuses to seek help, individual therapy for yourself can enhance your coping skills or help you decide whether it's necessary to end the marriage.
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Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.