Mutual Respect
By: Kathy
May 10, 2010

Making Decisions you won’t regret

I had an interesting thing happen to me when I was with my son ordering his class ring several weeks ago. My son was already at the school and, in fact, had already placed the order with the representative, I just had to show up and pay for it (that’s another post for another day, isn’t it?!) So I arrived at the school and my son was urging me to just write the check, but I had questions. I wanted to see what he had ordered, what were the options, what were the prices, etc.

The conversation

The rep pulled the order and he and my son proceeded to show me what he had selected. There were 4 different grades of metal you could have the ring made out of, the best grade being gold. My son had selected the 2nd from the bottom grade and I wanted to understand why he had selected that one. He said, “Well, it’s $200 cheaper than the gold”. I said, “Okay, I understand, but are you sure that’s what you really want? This is something you will have for the rest of your life, maybe it’s worth it to pay the extra money to get a better ring.” We went back and forth a few times, he concerned about the money and me concerned about him getting a good quality ring and not regretting his decision.

The rep then, having watched this exchange, remarked, “Wow! What a great sign of mutual respect.” I was taken aback! I wasn’t even thinking about what impression we were making on the class ring rep, I was just focused on my son and the decision we were making. I walked away feeling proud that I had a good parent moment, but later as I thought about it, I started looking at it with regards to my work and my own marriage.

Helping the other

There is definitely mutual respect in my own marriage! We fight over who has to take the trash out, but in a most unconventional way. He takes it out so that I won’t, and I take it out so that he won’t have to. We both have our partner’s well being and best interests at the forefront of our minds! Think about that. We BOTH have our partner’s well being and best interests at the FOREFRONT of our minds!

I will put my own needs aside because I receive joy at seeing his needs get met. He pushes his needs down so as not to cause me unnecessary discomfort. Now don’t get me wrong, my needs are still MY responsibility. The question of does he cares if I get my needs met or not. At the same time, he can’t squelch the majority of his needs; that will only create dissension in the relationship and send us down a very unpleasant road.

Fulfilling your needs

That’s where the word ‘mutual‘ comes into play; we must both be playing the same game! If I put all of my needs aside and make my husband’s needs my primary focus, and his needs are also HIS primary focus, I’m eventually going to get angry and ugly as my needs go unmet. I often tell people that this notion of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a FABULOUS concept – as long as the other person is on board with the program! If I give and give and give and my partner takes and takes and takes, eventually I am the one who will get very uncomfortable. My partner may even resist all my efforts to turn it around and get my needs met because the program was working for them just fine!!

Mutal Respect

The idea I want to drive home here is the mindset of mutual respect in all of our relationships. If you have it – honor it, keep it, and be glad you have it!! If you are giving and not receiving, maybe you should consider putting some focus on your own needs or even discussing the disparity with your partner. Ultimately, if you are waiting and waiting for the payoff for years of giving, you are most likely not going to get a good return on your investment.

Ask the Question.. Don’t assume

Conversely, if you read this and are not sure if your partner’s needs are being met, perhaps you should ask them! If they tell you “No”, don’t get angry and defensive, but be thankful that you found out while you still have an opportunity to correct it! And, finally, know that it is very difficult to achieve this mindset of mutual respect when we have old hurts and wounds from our relationship still haunting us. You have to do the work and clean off the slate in order to trust your partner enough to have a mutually loving and respectful relationship towards one another.

We went with my son’s class ring choice once I was convinced he made the decision for sound reasons and not just to save money. I think we’ll both be happy with his choice when it comes in!