Finding It Again
by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
I have heard you say many times that respect is the foundation of all relationships and that without it they cannot develop and blossom. If this is true what happens if I have lost respect for the other person? Is respect possible to regain and could it happen if only one person is trying?
Unfortunately it is not uncommon for respect to disappear from a relationship. This can happen for a number of reasons. Sometimes you discover a side of their personality that was not apparent when you first met, or the other person did something that hurt or disappointed you to the point that you lost respect.
Whatever the reason may be, it is a huge problem. Relationships are not sustainable without mutual respect, and its disappearance can result in the demise of the relationship. However the better option is always to try and save the relationship by finding a way to rediscover and regain an acceptable level of respect.
Here are three ways this can be done:
a) Identify the positive - Every person has some good. While there may be a lot about the person you find hard to appreciate, beneath the surface there is always qualities that are special and are worthy of respect. This can be hard to see as we tend to view each other as total packages. So take a piece of paper and identify three good qualities that the other person possesses. Think about them at least once a day. Once you begin appreciating and seeing the value of these specific qualities it becomes easier to have general respect.
b) Try to understand - If there are things that the other person did or said that caused you to lose respect, it helps to understand where it is coming from. While they may be wrong they might not have meant any evil and were influenced by their upbringing, culture or environment. Maybe they really had good intentions but misunderstood the needs of others. Understanding where other people are coming from makes it easier to respect them.
c) Communicate - Open communication always improves relationships. Sit down with the other person and say: I want to respect you more but I am finding it difficult. These are some of the reasons I think this has happened. How can we work as a team and how can you help me improve my respect for you?
Relationships are a two way street and you cannot be doing all the work. But it is okay for you to start. When you put in the effort to reignite the respect it will make it easier for the other person to do the same, and it will make it easier for you to say: "I am working hard to improve our relationship and I expect the same from you.".