The Most Important Factor in a Relationship Is Not Communication, But Respect
That form of love is much harder, primarily because it often doesn’t feel very good. It’s unglamorous. It’s lots of early morning doctor’s visits. It’s cleaning up bodily fluids you’d rather not be cleaning up. It’s dealing with another person’s insecurities and fears even when you don’t want to.
Most people never reach this deep, unconditional love
But this form of love is also far more satisfying and meaningful. And, at the end of the day, it brings true happiness, not just another series of highs.
It’s not sexual attraction, looks, shared goals, religion or lack of, nor is it love
Happily Ever After doesn’t exist. Every day you wake up and decide to love your partner and your life-the good, the bad and the ugly. Some days it’s a struggle and some days you feel like the luckiest person in the world.
They get addicted to the ups and downs of romantic love. They are in it for the feels, so to speak. And when the feels run out, so do they.
Some people get into a relationship as a way to compensate for something they lack or hate within themselves. This is a one-way ticket to a toxic relationship because it makes your love conditional-you will love your partner only as long as they help you feel better about yourself. You will give to them only as long as they give to you. You will make them happy only as long as they make you happy.
What I can tell you is the #1 thing . . . is respect. There are times when you won’t feel love for your partner. But you never want to lose respect for your partner. Once you lose respect, you will never get it back.
As I scanned through the hundreds of responses I received, I began to notice an interesting trend: People who had been through divorces almost always talked about communication being the most important part of making chatfriends giriЕџ things work. Talk frequently. Talk openly. Talk about everything, even if it hurts.
But I noticed that the thing people with happy marriages going on 20, 30, or even 40 years talked about most was respect.
My sense is that these people, through sheer quantity of experience, have learned that communication-no matter how open, transparent, and disciplined-will break down at some point. Conflicts are pretty much unavoidable and feelings will always be hurt.
And the only thing that can save you and your partner, that can cushion you both to the hard landing of human fallibility, is an unerring respect for one another. It’s crucial that you hold each other in high esteem, believe in one another-often more than you each believe in yourselves-and trust that your partner is doing his/her best with what they’ve got.
Without that bedrock of respect, you will begin to doubt each other’s intentions. You will judge your partner’s choices, and encroach on their independence. You will feel the need to hide things from one another for fear of criticism. And this is when the cracks in the edifice begin to appear.
My husband and I have been together 15 years. I’ve thought a lot about what seems to be keeping us together, while marriages around us crumble (seriously, it’s everywhere . . . we seem to be at that age). The one word that I keep coming back to is “respect.” Of course, this means showing respect, but that is too superficial. Just showing it isn’t enough. You have to feel it deep within you. I deeply and genuinely respect [my husband] for his work ethic, his patience, his creativity, his intelligence, and his core values. From this respect comes everything else-trust, patience, perseverance (because sometimes life is really hard and you both just have to persevere). I want to hear what he has to say (even if I don’t agree with him) because I respect his opinion. I want to enable him to have some free time within our insanely busy lives because I respect how he spends his time and who he spends time with. And, really, what this mutual respect means is that we feel safe sharing our deepest, most intimate selves with each other.