There’s no doubt that respect is a must-have in any relationship. But it’s absolutely vital for the relationship you have with your S.O. or your spouse.
While there are many ways to show respect through interactions with each other and in public, you can also teach your kids about and how to respect by doing just that to your spouse.
I am not a parent so I cannot speak as one but I can and will write this as a 23-year-old daughter of two parents who have been happily married for 25 years.
#1. Don’t use your spouse as a threat of any kind.
It’s really easy to scare your kid into listening, respecting or doing chores by using your husband or wife as a threat.
You may use phrases like, “If you don’t do this, daddy will…” or “Mommy will be very upset if you don’t listen,” and so on and so forth.
Using your spouse as a threat will give your child a bad and possibly inaccurate impression of them and may even conclude that they’re out to get them.
It’s also very disrespectful because you’re indirectly attacking your spouse’s character and if you do this frequently, it may teach your kids that it’s okay to use people as threats to get their way.
Instead of using your spouse as a threat, explain to your child why they should listen or respect you, or why it’s important they do their chores. Don’t portray your spouse as the Big Bad Wolf.
In doing this, your child will understand and know more about the importance of taking responsibility and be able to practice it efficiently as they grow up.
#2. Express appreciation and affirm your spouse when they’ve accomplished something.
Affirmation and words of praise in times of success, even in the smallest of things, has a big effect on a person, no matter how many times they may say it doesn’t matter to them.
Saying phrases like, “Oh you just got lucky,” or “I could’ve done that myself,” makes it seem like you’re trying to one-up your spouse and it can disrespect your spouse by downplaying their strengths and their wisdom.
Humility and respect require you to acknowledge and affirm your spouse when they’ve succeeded, instead of steering the focus back on yourself.
When your husband or wife fixes something technical or even comes up with a smart resolution to a conflict between you and your kid(s), acknowledge, affirm and appreciate.
#3. Avoid the blame game in bad situations.
“It’s your mom’s fault that we’re in this mess,” or “Your dad is the one who made a mistake,” are phrases that are not only detrimental to your marriage, but also ones that can show disrespect towards your spouse.
It’s normal and okay to get into an argument with your spouse in front of your child, but it’s not acceptable or inexcusable to be pointing fingers at each other.
It’s hurtful for both of you and may teach your child that blaming others is the way to successfully handle conflict, which will negatively affect their future relationships.
Instead of trying to avoid arguing in front of your child, if you and your spouse end up disagreeing on something, handle it in a healthy and respectful way.
Your child will be able to understand and know that that’s how conflicts should be handled and it will also show that you respect your spouse and their opinions.
#4. Encourage but don’t criticize your spouse.
It really breaks my heart to see couples criticizing each other in public, and it appalls me to hear some of the things that come out of their mouths.
Encouragement doesn’t necessarily mean praising them and it’s definitely not limited to that. It means giving them a glimpse of the silver lining when they’ve made a mistake or in bad times.
Criticizing your spouse disrespects them and doing it in front of your kids will affect them and the way they treat their future S.O.’s and spouses.
If you feel that you’re going to say something that will criticize your spouse, leave the room or wherever you are and take time to calm down and clear your head.
When you’re tempted to focus on their mistakes rather than acknowledging that things are going to be okay, think about whether or not it’ll help or hurt. Think before you speak.
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