Why Respect is the Foundation of Any Relationship

4 minutes

Respect plays a vital role in the happiness or unhappiness in a couple’s life.

In the years of my experience as a psychotherapist, I have dealt with roughly 600 couples. I found that the reasons for conflict in marriages may have been several, but it boiled down mainly to lack of self-esteem (respect) and/or, lack of respect of one’s spouse.


At a very generic level, I also experienced that there was a lack of respect for the very concept that we call ‘Marriage’. It was taken as an institution of just compromises, responsibilities and sacrifice of one’s own dreams.

Some of the complaints that couples normally brought into counseling were –

  • My partner wants to govern what, how, who I should or should not talk to
  • We have differences in how the upbringing of the children should be
  • S/he wants to teach me how I should best spend my time, or how I waste my time
  • Wanting to take all decisions on behalf of me, pointing how I do not have the maturity or the experience to take my own decisions.
  • He/she wants to decide what I should wear, say; my habits, behaviors, language, tone; everything is a problem for them.
  • We have constant arguments about money and always disagree on what’s the best way of spending money
  • S/he judges me for the way I deal with issues, my ideologies, my weaknesses; insisting his/her way of doing and seeing things is the only correct way.

All the above examples show a tendency of people to look at the world from their own mindset. This one-sided view can come as disrespect for the other person’s outlook towards life. Many couples thrive and base their marriage only on the outward behavioral differences, overlooking the fact that a marriage is not a relationship of competition, but of co-operation. This sense of cooperation is possible when respect is one of the base pillars in a relationship.

To take a case of a couple in counseling as example –

Sulochana is a 29 year old, spontaneous, happy go lucky, impulsive kind of girl. Her husband Pratham is very analytical, futuristic, research-oriented person. They both found major difficulties in adjusting with each other’s lifestyles and expectations. When they came in therapy, they were at the verge of divorce; angry, hopeless and resentful about each other. During sessions, when we discussed the concept of marriage, it was identified and established that for a happy life; the abilities they both had individually, were equally essential even as a couple. They could see how each one’s individual strengths can be used for the best of both. For example, while planning for vacations, maintaining a social life and friendships, Sulochana’s way of being was more effective. On the other hand, while taking long term decisions, Pratham’s way was more effective. This made Sulochana stop calling Pratham materialistic, dry and boring. Pratham stopped seeing her as immature and childish. They had just discovered respect for the way the other person was, and the contribution each could make to make it a happy marriage.

With the example, we understand that to develop a respectful, responsible and progressive relationship, one requires introspection, communication, and faith in one’s self, as well as in the partner.

A few tips to develop a mutually respectable relationship –

  • AGREE TO DISAGREE (Not as the final answer, but as a ground rule to fall back upon when the going gets very tough!)
  • COMMUNICATE (Being two islands by agreeing to disagree is not the final aim, build a bridge!)
  • LISTEN (The often missed, main element of communicating!)
  • When talking and listening is both at war level, TAKE A BREAK! (Allow each other the respectful space to gather oneself).
  • REALIGN (Come back and work out the differences, expectations, and mutual goals to want to be together).
  • RESTART (At the first, in case of more conflict areas, or till you find a common ground!)

Just like the roots of a plant are its invisible strength, keeping it upright and alive, respect is such an invisible, internal attribute at the base of any relationship. 

Do you face similar problems in your relationship? Talk to a YourDOST counsellor today and get expert guidance and support for your worries. 

Shruti Singhal

Shruti is your special friend from Your D.O.S.T team. She is a practicing psychotherapist with 11 years of experience in the field of clinical psychology. She has worked with clients of different age groups, dealing with a wide variety of psycho-social & life adjustment problems that people face in everyday lives. Shruti believes that if we learn the skill to master our emotions, then we would all have that immense mind power to create a successful life of love, joy and purpose. It is her lifelong passion & pursuit to develop and help develop this skill. Through Your DOST, she would like to touch minds and souls to make a positive difference in their lives