Creating a Mutually Respectful and Equal Relationship

Feel like things are off balance in your marriage? Follow these five steps to achieve a shared, balanced, and equal relationship.

By Carlynne McDonnell

Balancing our everyday lives can be hectic and busy. During the holidays, it can sometimes feel like so much, especially if too many responsibilities fall on one person.

Having an equal relationship with active participation by both partners provides the perfect antidote to feeling overloaded—at any time of the year. We all want to feel appreciated and valued, but sometimes we may not know how to gain an equally shared, balanced and respectful relationship.

Here are five steps to achieving that equal relationship.

1. Know who you are.

Be clear about your likes and dislikes and communicate those to your partner. Know what you need and want to feel respected. This means understanding what makes you feel supported and what doesn’t. It also means taking the time to communicate about relationship responsibilities with your partner. Asking for what you need makes you an active participant in the relationship. Communication and the ability to express yourself are key elements of feeling heard.

2. Always maintain your self-respect.

Every healthy relationship is based upon mutual respect and admiration. Abuse—verbal or physical—never belongs in any relationship. Never allow yourself to be accepting of behavior that is hurtful or demeaning. Never be the one who is abusive to anyone, ever. Hold yourself in the highest esteem and recognize your value in every relationship and treat others the same way.

3. No one “completes” you; you complete yourself.

In a healthy and respectful partnership you want an equal—a partner and you should expect the same. Your partner should add to your sense of self. When you seek emotional fulfillment through another person, you give that person control over your happiness. You become dependent upon that person’s moods and feelings. It is not fair to either of you. One-sided is not a relationship. Healthy and viable relationships involve equality and balance.

4. Learn what your must-have qualities are in another person.

Try to make the most important qualities like trust, respect, commitment, appreciation those that matter most and seek out people who fit with you. Compatibility is very important to the success of any relationship. Relationships require commitment and care and attention. Be willing to invest the time required to make your relationship a source of satisfaction. Always remember that both participants have the responsibility to create a meaningful and rewarding partnership.

5. Be realistic.

As much as we all hoped when we were young, there really is no Prince or Princess Charming. There are charming, kind, respectful, considerate human beings. Everyone has unique qualities and we need to appreciate the qualities that make a relationship stable, committed and long-term. And I don’t mean boring!

Look for the person who makes your heart sing, who shows you how valued and appreciated you are by treating you with respect; who works towards equality in the relationship by being responsive and open to long-term growth. And who sees you as a partner, a member of the team, an equal. Don’t settle for anything less.

You don't have to settle for an unequal relationship. Try these tips to strike a better balance with your significant other.

Carlynne-McDonnellCarlynne McDonnell is the author of The Every Woman’s Guide To Equality. She has a master’s in public policy and has been working in the corporate, education, and nonprofit worlds for more than 30 years. She is also founder of the nonprofit Change in Our Lifetime, which is dedicated to achieving equality for women. She has presented workshops and keynotes on women’s equality, leadership development, organizational strategy on the national and local level for women’s organizations, college and universities, and the United States Marine Corps. Learn more about The Every Woman’s Guide to Equality.

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