A Smart Way To Deal With Disrespect In A Marriage

Have you ever felt frustrated when your partner (or anyone else for that matter) didn’t make some changes that you wanted them to make and because of this, you felt like you weren’t being respected?

Most of us have felt that way at one time or another. We just wanted the other person to “respect” us in a certain way and didn’t know how to go about getting it.

One thing we’ve noticed is…

One of the reasons people who are considering leaving a relationship buy our book and audio program “Should You Stay or Should You Go?” is that they don’t feel respected, appreciated and important.

Yes, feeling respected is that important!

It’s important to feel respected and be  “heard” in a relationship–but what if the other person doesn’t seem to want to make changes that you want him or her to make?


“I have been dating a guy about 1 year. We both feel that there are a lot of good things/times in our relationship. A very big concern that I have is I feel that there is a lack of respect in our relationship. He does not feel the ‘need’ to shower at night. This is a person who is very busy through the day.

“I feel that when there is someone with you, & you have that intimate relationship, that it is good practice to shower, & have a fresh clean body, to be with another person. I do not feel that it is being obsessive, to ‘wash’ off the days wear & tear.

“He feels that he is being told what to do. I have tried to explain to him that it is simple consideration for another person. I know that I will not be happy in this relationship, without this simple consideration, & have tried to explain that to him.

“I have tried to let this ‘be’, but it hurts me, feeling that he does not have this simple respect and consideration for me.

“I am wondering how we can work on this issue? There have been times that he has showered & it is very pleasant. I have tried to encourage him & told him that I appreciated these times. I have been trying to ‘give it time’.

“He knows how I feel, & I keep hoping that he will realize that I am worth that little bit of effort. I feel that we are doing somewhat better about discussing things, & not shutting down. He acknowledged the unfairness to me because he is busy. I feel that this is a first step. But also am wondering if things will change to a point that I will be comfortable. I am very supportive and understanding of him & I want the same in return.”


It certainly sounds like the two of you are doing a lot of things “right” by learning how to stay open to each other and not shutting down as you discuss hard topics.

And as you said, that’s certainly a first step!

It also sounds like you are listening to each other but don’t know how to move forward to break out of the stuck place that you’re currently in.

Here’s what we suggest…

Keep on working on your communication. If you need some more suggestions on staying open when it’s tough, you might want to check out our Stop Talking On Eggshells program.


Try doing a re-frame.

Re-frame the idea that your boyfriend doesn’t respect you.

Now before you tell us that he IS being disrespectful in his actions (or non-actions), try this idea on…

What you have is not a “respect” problem but rather a difference in “rules” for living.

You have a “rule” that says that you bathe before bed and it’s a sign of respect for the other person when you do so.

Your boyfriend seems to have the “rule” that when you’re tired from a day’s work, you go straight to bed– and it has nothing to do with not respecting the other person you sleep with.

When you asked him to adopt your “rules,” he rebelled, dug his feet in the ground and won’t change. To him, not showering before bed is not about respecting you.

To you, it is.

While it certainly says a lot that he acknowledges the unfairness to you, but as you said, you don’t know if he will change–and you don’t know if you can stand it if he doesn’t.

So here are some ideas to help you…

1. Try the re-frame idea on and see if you can switch your thinking from the highly emotionally charged criticism that “he doesn’t respect me” to “we just have different rules.”

When you do this–even in your thoughts–you are making a shift to “neutral” and not criticizing him.

2. Talk with him from a heart-centered, non-critical place. Even though it sounds like you’ve talked about this situation with him, he may have felt put-down and criticized–even though that may not have been your intention.

Tell him you’ve appreciated how the two of you are listening to one another.

You can tell him from your heart how you want to be close to him–and that it’s so much better for you when he takes a shower before coming to bed.

Talk about your different set of rules that you each have and try a “team” approach to solve your problem.

Open your heart to him as you talk and ask him if he’s open to figuring out how you both can get your needs met.

3. Decide if this a deal-breaker for you. In other words, is this issue so important that you are willing to walk away from the relationship if he doesn’t change?

So, before you decide to walk away if he doesn’t change, give some time and attention to making some shifts and see what happens.

One final thing about this topic before we go…

We realize that infidelity, abuse or other major ways that agreements have been broken can be a very different ball game from our example in this email and can require immediate action on your part–especially if there’s been a repeat pattern.

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