Respect is essential to a balanced, healthy relationship where love abounds.
Claudia María Moreno Gómez, psychologist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
Living together can bring lovely experiences, but it can also be challenging. Partners must learn to adapt and have a clear understanding that respect is a necessary part of building a relationship. Respect is the foundation for a healthy, balanced relationship that grows by treating each other well and by knowing how to overcome difficulties.
A healthy relationship does not mean a conflict-free relationship. Conflicts teach people to grow and mature, and the key to a successful conflict is how to address it. “A healthy relationship means good communication. It means that both people choose what they want to share and experience, and experience ‘happiness’ together on a daily or regular basis. I say, ‘happiness’ in quotation marks because when I talk about happiness, this means that both partners know what they want,” states Claudia Maria Moreno Gómez, a psychologist with a master’s in clinical and family psychology.
While there may be the part where we fall in love, where we dream about how things will be and how we want things to work out, it’s not all a bowl of cherries: we’re not perfect and there are never perfect situations. With love, this is a reality that we must face. Treating each other well must therefore be something we work on every day, as with all of our work stress, changes as a couple, changes in temperament, and social pressure – it is very easy to cross the dangerous line of disrespecting each other with words, attitudes and actions.
“It’s the idea that I won’t do to another, what I don’t want done to me. Training each other well means not being aggressive and that means both physical and psychological abuse. Emotional abuse towards another, and towards the essence of their being, is a violation of their rights,” she explains. Abuse is when you disqualify, ignore or manipulate another, or when you use emotional blackmail against another.
It takes two
As María Victoria Álvarez Vélez emphasizes, Director of Family Development at the Universidad Católica Luis Amigó, “Living together is not just about sharing the same roof.” It’s about having a clear understanding that couples involve two people who feel, act and think differently, but have things in common: they are together by their own free will, they love each other, and they each have their own rights and responsibilities.
“Life as a couple has three types of baggage: yours, mine and ours. In ours, I pack what is useful to us as a couple. In mine, I include what is for me. That is very healthy. I don’t mix mine with the other’s, I have my own life goals and let my partner have theirs, but we both have lives that allow us to develop, because the essence of life as a couple is to grow as people.”
To treat each other well, I recommend that couples see each other in a positive light and turn what is negative into fuel for assigning new meanings to things, unlearning old habits to learn new ones, and having an opportunity to create.
“This helps to prevent what is referred to as ‘hidden aggression,’ which comes in the form of expressions that are supposedly made out of love for the other. Because we aren’t as aware of them, they destroy and affect a person’s self-esteem. Things like, ‘You look like you’ve gained a few pounds,’ ‘Your old age is showing, love,’ ‘She’s a bit dull sometimes, but she’s so sweet.’ This is why using our words, bodies and feelings is so important,” states Álvarez. Such hidden aggressions can gain strength over the years, affecting how they live together.”
It’s important, stresses Moreno Gómez, that both people realize they are disrespecting each other. “The tricky part is that sometimes we can treat each other poorly, and not realize it. This can make people feel resentful towards each other. One may say, ‘Hey, you’re shouting at me,’ and the other may respond, ‘That’s how I talk!’ You have to understand that there is something wrong.”
By recognizing this, you can find solutions such as seeing a therapist, deciding whether to stay with that person or not, as a partner isn’t something that can resolve another’s problems or fill another person’s voids; they are also not a possession. “If I feel that I don’t want to be with someone, it’s important to say so and not fake it, because then I not only hurt the other, I hurt myself,” she concludes•
Tips for a balanced relationship
Maintain admiration and love for the other. Always acknowledge what your partner has to contribute. When we have lost admiration for our partners or begin to feel annoyed about what the other does, this can easily turn into abuse.
- Affectionate, effective and timely communication. This is the underpinning aspect of building any relationship. Feeling free to be, feel, think, act and develop with the other and through the other, without losing yourself, is very important.
- Know how to listen. Because a relationship involves two different people, we must listen actively. Grow and communicate with each other through your differences.
- Never stop trying to win each other over. Routines greatly affect couples. Be creative with your relationship.
- Do not idolize each other. Do not develop an image of another person that is not true or think that by getting married, the bride or the groom will change those behaviors that were problematic when they were dating.