I run two year old posts on Twitter and Facebook overnight each day. I’ve had some comments and emails about a recent set of such posts, and thought it would be good to re-examine the issue. The original posts are at the bottom.
Here is the question: If your wife does or says something with no disrespect intended, but you feel disrespected, who is right? Has she disrespected you, or hasn’t she? Both.
Yes, you feel disrespected, and that matters. However, she means no disrespect, and that too matters. If you assign disrespect to her when she meant none, then you are not respecting her, which could well lead to her losing respect for you. If she says she did not mean disrespect, accept that as truth. If you cannot or will not accept her word, you have no hope of changing the situation.
Once you have taken her at her word, explain to her that while it was not her intent, you felt disrespected. Clarify what it was that made you feel she did not respect you; make it very clear to her so she can make changes. It will probably help if you can tell her why you felt as you did – maybe how it plays into something from your past. This is relational sharing, and women connect with such communication. Suggest ways she could change so you do not feel disrespected.
What if you do that and she makes no effort to change? There are two things here. It would be accurate to say her unwillingness to try to change is showing a lack of love/respect for you, and that is a problem. However, if you know her heart is not to hurt you, if you know she does not mean disrespect, you should remind yourself of that and temper your reaction. Doing this will reduce your emotion, which will make it easier to gently remind her of how you would like her to treat the situation.