When I get asked what I think is the most important ingredient for a good relationship, you may be surprised to hear that I don’t say ‘love.’ In our western world, we tend to believe that a good relationship is one where two people love each other. We don’t follow the practice of arranged marriage as occurs in other cultures; rather, the driving force for two people getting together and making a commitment to one another is love.
So when my clients ask me what I think the most important ingredient for creating a healthy relationship is, my answer is always: respect.
It’s great if you love each other but it is even more important that you feel respect for one another. Ask yourself these questions:
Do I value my partner’s opinion?
Do I admire my partner’s qualities?
Do I respect the way they interact with others?
Do I like their values?
There are many more questions I could add to this list but this is a starting point for you to think about the place that respect has in your relationship. And if you’re not currently in a relationship, this is a starting point to think about what you would like to create in a future relationship.
If your answer is no to any of the above questions, it is worth thinking about how important the answer is to you. How much does this ‘no’ mean to you? Are you in the relationship for the right reasons?
Nothing is simple! You may have started out feeling respect for your partner but over time, based on situations/events/incidents, you may feel that you no longer have the respect for your partner you once had. Is this something that can be recovered? Have you talked about this with each other?
One final thought: I believe you can respect someone without loving them; but I wonder if you can truly love someone if you don’t respect them? There are no right or wrong answers, just thought-provoking questions which will assist you in thinking about your relationship. Remember, that in order for a relationship to last, the key ingredient is respect.