Having your husband's respect isn't just important for your sense of self. It also has a large impact on the communication necessary for a healthy relationship. When respect is absent, one person might consciously, or even unconsciously, reject the views of another person, suggests "PsychCentral" contributor Amy Bellows, Ph.D., in her article "Good Communication in Marriage Starts with Respect." When this occurs, there's little room for your opinions, suggestions or concerns in the relationship, and your husband assumes complete control of your union. Rather than lose your voice, learn some strategies to earn and maintain your husband’s respect.
Reconsider Your Attitude
Know the difference between being nice because you actually want to help and being nice as an obligation, suggests Preston Ni, professor of communication studies, in his "Psychology Today" article "Are You Too Nice? Seven Ways to Gain Appreciation and Respect." The latter leads you to put the needs of others above your own, even when you feel like it's time for your needs to come first. Understand that this isn't a reasonable approach, and it leads to you becoming a doormat rather than gaining respect. In some cases it can even lead you to resent the person you are helping.
The Art of "No"
Practice saying "no" when appropriate, Ni says. This doesn't mean that you shoot down each of your husband's requests, but identify situations in which you feel it is necessary. Start small. For example, if you don't agree with his choice for tonight's dinner, speak up and say "no." From there, you can work your way up, arguing in more important circumstances until you feel your voice is being heard fairly. Don’t be mean or insensitive when voicing your opinion. After all, you have to give respect to earn respect. Use the term “I,” rather than “You,” to avoid placing blame on him. For example, say “I feel this is a better choice” rather than “You made the wrong choice.”
Shake Off the Guilt
Don't become overly concerned about your husband's reactions to your assertiveness, suggests Ni. If you do, your guilt might steer you to give into his requests, even when you know you are right. Afterward, you’ll end up back at square one -- you’ll be a doormat for his decision-making and give up a chance at earning respect. Instead, tell yourself that he will get over it, especially if the conflict was over a small matter.
Carry Yourself with Confidence
Earn respect by boosting your own self-image. For example, in the "Psychology Today" article "Building Confidence and Self-Esteem," psychiatrist Neel Urton suggests creating a list of your strengths, achievements and things you admire about yourself. Review the list daily. In addition, spend some time caring for yourself and improving your own skills, rather than always tending to your husband's needs. For example, take a yoga class or dancing lessons. Focus on you more often. He might initially seem frustrated by your change in habits, but at the same time he will begin to respect your ability to handle yourself.
Mitch Reid has been a writer since 2006. He holds a fine arts degree in creative writing, but has a persistent interest in social psychology. He loves train travel, writing fiction, and leaping out of planes. His written work has appeared on sites such as Synonym.com and GlobalPost, and he has served as an editor for ebook publisher Crescent Moon Press, as well as academic literary journals.