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
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
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
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
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
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 withBoundaries 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
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
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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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “On My Mama” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour. So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood