When was the last time you saw someone display disrespect toward a partner? Was it by a family member, friend, on TV, or maybe in a film?
Respect is vital to a healthy relationship, yet sometimes people don’t realize when they are failing to give their partners respect. How many times have we heard people jokingly or sarcastically make comments such as, “oh, my husband is just a dumb guy” or “my wife is only out for my money”? From audiences, I’ve heard much worse. Each time, the person says they are “just joking” – at who’s expense and doing what potential harm?
When you study humor, you learn that people laugh at what resonates with what is most true to them. Thus such “funny” comments are assumed to have truth in them.
The one consequence often not considered is the impact on those listening, including children. They too assume truth is within the joke. Now, suddenly they learn it is funny to disrespect a partner AND believe that the negative statement about that adult is at least partially true (potentially harming how they view and treat the person who was disrespected).
The best way to build a culture where children are raised around respect is to role model respect in your own life. If all a child sees is examples of respect, the child is more likely to believe that is the only way to treat another person.
Sadly, negative role-modeling is what can lead to many abusive relationships being taught as a “norm.” That negative role modeling leads to raising more individuals to become abusers and leads more survivors to being horrifically taught that an abusive relationship is what they deserve or is the best they can do.
Living with and showing respect to your partner in private AND public will help set great examples for everyone. Be a wonderful example to people and show them that everyone deserves to be in a respectful relationship.
Step in and speak up the next time someone makes a disrespectful comment towards a partner or spouse – to let others know that this is not the way people should be treated. A simple example is nicely intervening by saying, “Jordan, I’m sure that is not true about Taylor and you wouldn’t want us treating Taylor that way.” Say it with kindness. Be sincere. After all, no one wants to be lectured. Your goal is to help the person learn (not to chastise).
Help build a culture of respect by showing and living with respect for yourself and those around you.