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7 Signs That You Truly Respect Your Spouse (& Your Marriage)

Love is important. But don't ever underestimate the relevance of respect.

Love & Relationships

Maybe it's just me, but I've always found it to be interesting (that's the word I'm gonna go with for now) that, whenever you see a rom-com or read a book on relationships, most of the focus is on cultivating love. Chile, after years of marriage life coaching, what I've realized a lot of people need to focus on more is mutual respect.

Real talk, when I stop and think about the core reason for why a lot of married couples struggle, it's not that the love isn't still there; it's that either one or both feel totally disrespected on some level. And when respect isn't fully presented and accounted for in a relationship, it's just a matter of time before things go from uncomfortable to bad to I'm about one foot out of the door.

That's why I thought it would be a good idea to share some examples of what it actually means to respect your spouse. While these seven signs don't cover all of the bases, I'm fairly confident that if you and yours are willing to make these a priority, you will be creating a marriage that is truly able to go the distance. Because after all, if love and respect are there, you are in a really good, healthy, happy and stable place.

1. You Are Intentional About Affirming Your Partner

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If you go to the Classic Amplified Version Ephesians 5:33 of the Bible, when it speaks of wives respecting their husband, one of the words that is brought up is "esteem". I really like that word because it means "to regard highly or favorably; regard with respect or admiration"—and yes, if you have chosen to vow to be with someone for the rest of your life, you most definitely should hold them in high regard, respect them and, to a certain extent, even admire them (since admiring is about approving of someone and taking pleasure in them in some way and on some level).

One way to express all of this is by affirming your partner, on a consistent basis. Matter of fact, one of the biggest issues that I encounter with the couples that I work with is the fact that they don't affirm their partner much at all. Instead, what they do plenty of is complain, nag, nitpick, berate and find all kinds of ways to verbally beat their partner down. And as we've just seen from the breakdown of esteem, whether they realize it or not, all of that is actually a form of disrespect—and who wants to be in a relationship where they constantly feel disrespected?

Affirming someone is about positively stating what is true about them. What I also like about the definitions of affirm is it also means to uphold and support an individual. So yes, every time you verbally state something positive about your partner—whether in their presence or out—what you're essentially doing is showing your support of them.

Now, if you just read all of that and thought, "I'll affirm them when they've got something worth affirming"—tell me, how did you end up choosing a partner who you can't say anything positive about? Mmm-hmm. The answer to that question will reveal volumes. If you let it.

2. Their Needs Are Valid. Even If They Differ from Your Own

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If you're a single person who happens to be checking this article out, it's important to know that a need is a requirement, and if there are certain things that you require in a relationship, it's best to state those, upfront, before saying "I do". Now for those who may think that "require" is extreme, at the end of the day, all a requirement is, is a need—and if you're not getting what you need from your spouse, you're gonna be very uncomfortable, if not flat-out miserable, in your relationship.

I know a couple, right now, who have been struggling for a few years and it's all because the husband needs sex more than he's getting while the wife needs romance more than she's receiving. Both of them look at the other like they are being ridiculous. Why? Because the husband sees what the wife desires as a want, not a need, while the wife feels the same way about her husband. It's another article, for another time, just how essential sex is in a marital union. For now, what I will say, is it's not really up to us to tell someone what they do or do not need. What is our responsibility in a relationship is to either honor that need or find a way to come to a compromise in meeting the need.

Now please believe that I'm not saying that we need to succumb to every whim (because sometimes things aren't based on need but greed). However, when you truly care about someone, when you respect them as a person, along with the place they hold in your life, you don't try to invalidate their needs just because they may differ from your own. You listen, you remain open and you encourage them to do the same for you. Meeting needs in a marriage is paramount. Please make that a top priority in your own.

3. Anything That Concerns Them Is Up for Discussion

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Wanna know a clear sign that someone is disrespectful as hell? It's when they are dismissive. It's when you bring up a concern to someone and, because it's not important to them, they treat it like it's not important at all.

I was actually just having a conversation with a husband about this very point, not too long ago. He's the kind of guy who, while he has some pretty solid décor taste, he's also fine with the bare minimum. For example, as long as his living room has a comfy couch, a coffee table and an entertainment system, he's all good. Meanwhile, he married a Black Martha Stewart who isn't happy unless each room looks like it should be in an interior design magazine.

On the surface, this might not seem like a big deal but oh, has it become one. When discussion of the household budget comes up and she wants to get some extra things, he's quite flippant and yes, dismissive. Meanwhile, this husband is a musician. And so, whenever he wants to get some new equipment for his home studio, that is important and must be purchased. Yet when his wife wants to get some throw pillows and art? To him, those are totally irrelevant and a waste of money. Why? Well, since décor isn't something that he's particularly passionate about, he doesn't deem it as necessary.

There is no right or wrong here. Well, except for the fact that it's pretty arrogant to assume that just because something doesn't concern you, your partner shouldn't care about it either. So yeah, another clear sign that you respect your spouse is you make the time to be invested in what matters to them—simply because they matter to you. Signing up to be a husband or wife means that everything ain't about you. Some things are going to have to come up that you couldn't care less about. Maturity says you care anyway. Because your spouse needs you to do so.

4. Certain Things Within the Relationship Is NO ONE ELSE’s Business

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Something that I have in common with most of my closest friends is we're all pretty open people. What I mean by that is, the types of things that others may never want people to know, we'll discuss pretty freely (check out "14 Lessons I've Learned From 14 Sex Partners", for example). Yet, at the same time, there are a few topics and/or situations that we keep, 100 percent, between us. The information is private. Sacred even.

Another way that married people show that they truly respect their spouse is coming to the mutual conclusion that not everything is open season for the information hotline. I don't care if it's their mama, their bestie or a co-worker that their partner has never met before—when two people decide to share their lives with one another, it should automatically be a safe space and with safety comes confidentiality. By the way, the only way that you and yours can get on the same page about this is by discussing what both of you find to be private. Also, if one of you thinks that something isn't that big of a deal while the other does, respect says, that you concede to the one who would prefer that topic not come up.

I actually know a few married people who don't tell their partner a lot because they think they talk (and tell) too much. That's super unfortunate because, if there is one place where a spouse should be able to freely share…whatever it is that they want to, it should be with their partner. Remember when Alicia Keys once sang, "I won't tell your secrets/Your secrets are safe with me/I will keep your secrets/Just think of me as the pages in your diary"? Your spouse should be able to feel this exact way about you, just like you should be able to about them? Can you?

5. You Both Have Mutually Agreed Upon Boundaries

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There are actually a lot of books that I recommend for married couples to add to their library. As it relates to this specific topic, I'd go with Boundaries in Marriage: Understanding the Choices That Make or Break Loving Relationships. Boundaries are limits and while limits differ from couple to couple, in order for a marriage to succeed, every union needs them.

What I just shared about couples keeping certain things confidential, that's a boundary. Doing whatever is necessary to prevent an affair—including an emotional affair—from transpiring, that is a boundary. Not letting a relative or friend have more power or influence in your marriage than your own spouse does, that is a boundary. Keeping the explicit details of your sex life to yourself, that is a boundary. Setting mutually agreed upon limits that basically say, "this is as far as something or someone should go" (even with one another, I might add) is an ultimate form of respect. Breaking boundaries? That is disrespectful like a mug.

6. Feeling Connected Is the Utmost Importance to You

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Genesis 2:24(NKJV) says, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." I Corinthians 6:16(Message) says, "There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, 'The two become one.'" If you really pay attention to both verses, they share the same premise that marriage is about oneness. That's another word that I personally dig because oneness is all about "unity of thought, feeling, belief, aim, etc.; agreement; concord" and "a strong feeling of closeness or affinity; union".

While being married definitely doesn't mean that you give up your individuality, what should happen is you and yours are able to come together and complement each other very well. Your strengths should help each other to become stronger. Your weaknesses should balance each other in a way where you both can hold each other accountable. You should communicate on a level where you both feel heard and your sex life should help to solidify the emotional bond that already exists.

Being proactive about making sure that you and your spouse are good is a form of respect because it means that you acknowledge their value and worth in your life. No matter how much may be on your plate, it is imperative that you make strides, on a daily basis, to make you and your partner feel connected to one another. Both of you doing this makes it very hard for either of you to feel "less than" or, yes, disrespected.

7. You Honor Them and Your Marriage. In and Out of Your Spouse’s Presence

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Did you know that one definition of honor is "high respect"? Actually though, the definition that I want to close this article out with is "honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions". The reason why is because, when I refer to the importance of honoring your spouse as well as your marriage, it should be about being honest with them, approaching matters with them from a place of fairness and having a sense of integrity when it comes to keeping your marriage vows and also doing what you say you're gonna do—no matter how many years you've been together.

There are some married people I know who are the same way whether their spouse is around or not. Why? Because they are genuine individuals with absolutely nothing to hide. Then there are folks who literally seem like they have split personalities because they are "on one thing" in their partner's presence, then they're about something totally different whenever their spouse isn't around. To give a false impression of yourself is not only dishonorable but disrespectful because, again, when you sign up to become a "oneness partner", you're not only representing yourself but your spouse—both in and out of their presence.

An honorable marriage is one that can be respected—by you, your spouse and those you come into contact with—because it is one that is reliable, secure, real and true. And a marriage that is described in that way is one that is made up of the good stuff. One that will last for years and years to come. And who can't respect that?

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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