Love Will Keep Us Together, But Respect is Where It's At

 Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

In the success or breakdown of a couple's relationship, we always think of love; how their love keeps growing over the years or where did the love go. What we don't think of equally frequently is respect, tolerance, and appreciation and whether the love had good measures of these emotions. 

Truly satisfying relationships require respect, tolerance, and appreciation of who we are as men and women and as individuals. 

One might say, "Well! If you truly love somebody, these other things automatically follow." Not so! We grow up in a society, in which we have strong, and sometimes unshakable, beliefs about men and women, and about our own maleness and femaleness. Men and women love and respond to each other through these beliefs that are passed on from one generation to the other without serious examination. 
Some of these sex-linked beliefs are negative, right down to contempt, distrust, and denigration. These beliefs are deep down in our guts and operate often outside our awareness. 

I observe people, referring to their spouses, as the "better half," and in next breath, making a put-down comment about the sex gender of their "better half." Why does one sex have to be superior? Why can't we be just different, and in being different, enjoy the differences in the other? 

An oversimplified answer is that we really know very little about the other sex. Stereotypes about men and women are learned unconsciously, taught by highly biased "teachers," and people are too afraid of losing their own identity to empathize and identify with the other sex and learn on their own how things look and feel for the other sex.

A group of male and female experts suggest that men and women should learn to utilize the strengths of their partners. For example, men have greater mechanical ability, they love to drive cars, and can teach about sports. 

Women are good in providing emotional support, they listen better, and are more nurturing. They stay in touch with feelings and can express themselves more effectively. They are more intuitive and they accept their own vulnerability more readily. They are better in being "here and now" and "smell the roses," and couples need to be "there" when they are "there" and take their own time to smell the roses. 

Men don't have to be strong and in control of everything, everywhere, and all the time. They may need to learn to recognize their own vulnerability and to talk about their feelings without anger and fear. 

Women who come to enjoy sports have a better time in the company of their men on Sunday afternoons when there is a ball game on TV. No! Women are not so "compulsive" that they have to talk about being upset right at the time when they are upset. If they know it works, they would set a specific time to talk about it later.

Men complain about women's lack of sense of humor but once women read a few joke books and listen to comedy tapes, they can easily silence that criticism. Some women will not enjoy the Three Stooges and Trivial Pursuit just as some men will show their love only by playing ball with their sons. 

Times are changing as to what only men did and what only women did. This change is quite obvious when you visit a work place or a sports field today. Every day, more jobs, sports, hobbies, activities, and places that were exclusively male or female are becoming heterosexual. 

The real change will come not with both sexes doing the same thing and having the same interests and abilities, but with the respect and tolerance for male-, and female-specific characteristics. 

One sex should not feel superior to the other. "All men are created equal" may be revised to, "All men and women are created equal." Boys will still be boys and girls will still be girls. Sure, but there will come a time when all of us could acknowledge (without panicking) that there is a little bit of a girl in every boy and there is a little bit of a boy in every girl. 

Recognizing it will help develop that understanding, tolerance, respect, and above all empathy for the other. Carl Jung, a pioneering psychologist, said hundred years ago, that each person has maleness as well as femaleness and as they grow older the other "sexness" begins to show up more. A "superficial" example of that is that older women begin to grow mustaches and older men begin to lose them. 

And now, I end this with a public apology as demanded by my family: "I am truly sorry for wasting the family's vacation time and our gas money by not asking for directions for the umpteenth time when I had gotten so thoroughly lost in unknown places. Furthermore, I didn't need to pretend that I knew what I was doing and I was going exactly according to the map.

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 


Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor