This is the best relationship advice I’ve ever received:
THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN A RELATIONSHIP IS NOT COMMUNICATION, BUT RESPECT.
This insight is one of a dozen gems in Mark Manson’s epic blog post, 1,500 People Give All the Relationship Advice You’ll Ever Need.
I’m not exaggerating when I say this post is epic.
It’s about a 45-minute read, which is nearly on par with a short book. At nearly 9,000 words, it might be the longest blog post I’ve ever read. But it’s also one of the best.
Shortly after he got married, Mark polled his massive audience for advice to create what he calls, “THE ULTIMATE RELATIONSHIP GUIDE TO END ALL RELATIONSHIP GUIDES.”
He compiled the results into 12 common themes of advice, all of which are pure gold.
The respect over communication one really resonated with me.
Here are some of my favorite passages from this section of the post:
People who had been through divorces and/or had only been with their partners for 10-15 years almost always talked about communication being the most important part of making things work. Talk frequently. Talk openly. Talk about everything, even if it hurts.
And there is some merit to that (which I’ll get to later).
But we noticed that the thing people with marriages going on 20, 30, or even 40 years talked about most was respect.
This gives me a lot of confidence in my own marriage because I can honestly say without a shred of doubt that I have a LOT of respect for my wife.
She does things that make me a better person, even if it’s uncomfortable for me in the moment.
Without that bedrock of respect underneath you, you will doubt each other’s intentions. You will judge their choices and encroach on their independence. You will feel the need to hide things from one another for fear of criticism. And this is when the cracks in the edifice begin to appear.
One of my favorite parts about my wife’s and my relationship is that we don’t feel the need to hide stupid things from each other out of fear of judgment or even mildly annoying each other.
Sure, we annoy each other sometimes. But that’s way better than feeling insecure about our flaws in front of each other.
In another post, Mark mentions appreciating or even “adoring” your partner’s flaws and shortcomings as a healthy relationship habit.
You must also respect yourself. Just as your partner must also respect his/herself. Because without that self-respect, you will not feel worthy of the respect afforded by your partner.
I’ve often heard that you must work on yourself before you are ready to have a real relationship and I think this is true in many ways.
I like to say you can’t be the rock in someone else’s life unless you are the rock in your own life.
It’s important to be the best version of yourself, physically, mentally, and emotionally so that you can bring that into your relationship and thrive together. Self-respect is a natural result of being the best version of yourself.
Respect that they have different hobbies, interests and perspectives from you. Just because you would spend your time and energy differently, doesn’t mean it’s better/worse.
This isn’t to say you should should love your partner’s hobbies, interests, and perspectives as much as your own. But you should love and respect that they HAVE their own hobbies, interests, and perspectives because this is what makes them who they are.
Obviously, there are compromises you must make when doing things together. But there should also be no spite when your spouse wants to occasionally go and do their own thing.
One thing I’m working on personally is the perspectives piece of this.
My wife and I have different perspectives on a lot of things, so I’m trying more and more to see things from her angle without being judgmental in any way. This doesn’t just help strengthen the relationship, but it also helps you grow as an individual.
As a “newlywed,” there’s nothing I want more than to be one of the 40-year marriage success stories.
But no matter what stage of relationship you are in or even if you’re not in one, I highly recommending reading Mark’s entire blog post from start to end.
I bookmarked it and plan to revisit it at least once a year.
Featured image by Paul García Fotografía.
First published on Quora.