How to Handle Disrespect in Marriage

Marriage is not just the act of two individuals committing to each other in front of friends and family, but it is also an ongoing commitment built upon the foundation of mutual respect, trust, and love. In return, the couple pledge to the other their exclusive loyalty and fidelity. Marriage has been considered to be the most sacred relationship in human civilisation. However, many couples fail to remember this, leading to feelings of anger, jealousy, and resentment. These feelings can make a relationship turn sour, and it can be hard to know how best to handle them.

Identify the Cause

There are many reasons why your partner may be disrespecting you. They may not even realise they are doing it, but it’s important for you to work out why it’s happening. Does your partner work full time whilst you stay at home to do the house work or look after the kids? If so, they may perceive you as having a better or easier life, leading to resentment. They may see themselves as better than you because they work hard to provide for the family, or they feel entitled to a clean house and a hot meal because they’ve been at work all day.

Alternatively, they may be unable to relate to your problems, and they see your problems as smaller than their own. On the flip side, they may not feel they can talk to you about their own problems because they think you won’t be able to relate to them, so they automatically disregard your opinion.

Meanwhile, the cause could be a result of their upbringing. They may have seen their parents treat each other with disrespect, so they believe it is normal and appropriate. On a more serious note, they may be trying to control or manipulate you. This may be because they don’t trust you, they have low-self confidence, or they don’t believe you can look after yourself.

Lead By Example

Once you’ve identified the cause, the first thing to try is to lead by example. Respect earns respect, as they say, so if you respect them, they should respect you. Be careful not to submit to them, but stand up for yourself. If you disagree on something, be civil and speak to them like you would want to be spoken to. If they shout, remain calm. This may annoy them and result in them shouting louder, but stick with it. They’ll realise that you aren’t rising to their level, and they’ll eventually moderate their tone.

Write Notes

Conversation can get heated, but spelling things out for someone can help them to process things better. If your spoken words are constantly misinterpreted, rehashed and used against you, written notes can be used as evidence of what you said. Try not to write passive aggressive notes or long ranting essays – keep them short, to the point and crystal clear. Avoid emotional language and defensiveness, and stick to the facts. Your partner can then use these notes to learn in a calm, considered way.

Cultivate Trust

Some partners are inherently paranoid. They may worry they will lose you or they may not trust you after you betrayed them in the past. This can turn toxic quickly, and lead to disrespect. Try to build your levels of trust back by making meaningful connections and developing emotional intimacy. If your partner is unwilling to show their emotions, do something together that you both enjoy. They’ll eventually let their guard down as they come to realise they enjoy your company, which will give you the opportunity to foster a healthier relationship.

Maintain Standards

If you’ve spent years being patient with your partner and forgiving them for their unacceptable behaviour, you’ve likely unintentionally turned them into a spoiled brat. Some people don’t moderate their behaviour even when you lead by example. Instead they’ll take advantage and walk all over you like a doormat. When this happens, stick up for yourself and insist that you won’t tolerate such poor treatment. Don’t shout – just tell them you expect better and it should penetrate their brain.

Walk Away

This is the final option, but it’s useful when you’ve tried everything else. Unfortunately, it can sometimes lead to more heartbreak, but if you’ve really tried and your partner is still disrespecting you, walking away can give them the nudge they need to realise that if they don’t treat you right, they’ll lose you. A good partner will appreciate your company, so if they don’t care that they’ve pushed you away, they’re not worth your effort. At this point, they may start begging you to come back, but watch for their intentions. Do they want you back because they really love you, or do they want you back because you have something they want, or they want to use you?

Dealing with disrespect is never easy. It can feel like you’re fighting a losing battle at times, but with the tips above, you should be able to gain the respect you deserve back over time. It won’t be an immediate fix – changing habitual behaviour takes time – but a little bit of respect each day goes a long way.