we’re showing respect when we really aren’t. It isn’t
enough, in marriage, not to be rude.
fact that when you disagree, you don’t yell, or you don’t
turn your back on the other person and walk away, does not mean
you’re showing respect — it means you’re showing
elementary courtesy. That’s important — but it’s
instance, one spouse might have the habit of always thinking of
objections to whatever course of action the other suggests.
is actually at the heart of prudence — whenever you contemplate
a decision, you want to anticipate all that can go wrong.
if the other spouse never hears any response except explanations of
what is wrong with their ideas, that will be interpreted as a lack of
respect; they will feel like a second-class citizen.
after long familiarity spouses might feel confident that they know
where their partners’ remarks are heading without waiting for
them to finish their sentences. So they begin their answer at once —
and their partner keenly feels the lack of respect inherent in not
being fully heard.
way the spouses fail to respect each other is to conclude, in a
back-and-forth argument, that if their partner does not reply to
their last argument, a decision has been reached.
may be that the only decision reached is that the discussion is not
worth pursuing. And if the spouse who was not answered proceeds as
if silence implied consent, their partner is going to interpret that
as a lack of respect.
because I stopped arguing doesn’t mean that I agree,”
that spouse might say. “It only means that we were going
around in circles and it was time for us to stop talking and think
about what we both were saying.”
people don’t feel that they are being treated with respect —
even when the issues feel small, even trivial — it becomes a
canker on the relationship. They become hyper-alert to other signs
of disrespect, and through such slender cracks, a partnership meant
to last forever can seep away.
what’s going on when couples argue over “trivia”
like how to squeeze a toothpaste tube. The bottom-squeezer feels
disrespected by the middle-squeezer’s disregard of his sensible
when you buy two toothpaste tubes — and then keep your mouth
shut about how the other person chooses to use theirs. (And I mean
that you don’t tell others about your partner’s foibles,
problems are not so easily resolved, but when arguments seem to flare
up about nothing, chances are very good that what’s really
causing the quarrel is that one or both partners feel that the other
does not respect them.
you really listening to the other person’s views? Do you ever
give them room to have their way? Do you present your arguments
relentlessly, until the other one gives in just to get some peace?
Do you expect them to comply with your preferences while rarely
complying with theirs — even if for no better reason than that
they want it that way?
a marriage, we are supposed to be respecters of persons. We should
be seeking opportunities to defer to our partner, to indulge their
desires; we should treat each other like special people who should
get special treatment, rather than someone we must dominate or bend
to our will.
you are convinced that your spouse is constantly resisting your
obviously-sensible views, maybe you need to consider whether you
expect to get your way way too much.
a healthy marriage, you don’t have
a “way.” Not individually. Instead, you seek to find
your way through life together.
It’s not “my way” and “your way” —
it’s “our way,” and you truly don’t mind or
remember who first thought of the decisions you made together.
even take pleasure in seeing the sheets tacked up at the windows —
because it means that both of you have enough respect not to try to
force your will on the other.
are issues of respect, and your marriage is in danger if you do not
show — or do not feel you receive — your partner’s
respect. I’m not speaking about divorce; I’m speaking
about the danger of loneliness and misery, the sense of being trapped
in a lifelong relationship with someone who does not regard you as
worthy of equal regard.
are happy when both partners feel respected. Listened to. Deferred
to from time to time.
a partnership of mutual respect, eternity does not look half so long.
Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's
Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and
younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.
Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary
fantasy (Magic Street,Enchantment,Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables,Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series The Tales of Alvin Maker
(beginning with Seventh Son), poetry (An Open Book), and many plays and
Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and
Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s.
Besides his writing, he teaches occasional classes and workshops and directs
plays. He also teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University.
Card currently lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife,
Kristine Allen Card, and their youngest child, Zina Margaret.