9 Signs Of A Disrespectful Spouse + 10 Ways To Deal With Them

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Respect is an integral part of a successful relationship. Each person needs to feel like they are an equal partner in the relationship, and respect plays a big role in that.

But what does that look like? How do you know if you have your partner’s respect or not?

Every relationship is unique, and the way one couple communicates and conducts their relationship will look very different to another. You might think that the power balance is off when you see two people interact, and yet in reality they’re perfectly happy together. Equally, a relationship might appear to be based on mutual respect, but one or both partners might not feel valued or heard.

It can be hard to identify why your relationship feels ‘off,’ especially when it’s not obvious. You may not realize it, but feeling disrespected by your partner could be a big reason for the discontent you’re experiencing.

Disrespect can hide itself in a number of behaviors that you might not take as seriously as you should. Yes, sometimes it can be as obvious as your partner insulting or visibly ignoring you. But mainly, it’s any situation where you feel ‘less than’ your partner – where they aren’t listening to you, taking you seriously, or treating you as a priority.

For some people, feeling disrespected isn’t as simple as being called a name or being deliberately snubbed; it’s much more subtle than that. But small grievances add up over time and can wear down your confidence in yourself and happiness in your relationship.

It’s better to identify what is making you unhappy as soon as you can, so that you can face these habits head on before they impact your relationship and your mental health.

Your partner may not be aware of the small microaggressions they’re performing, and sometimes feeling disrespected can be a simple case of miscommunication. Better communication and a better understanding of each other’s triggers can help fix many issues that were never intended to harm.

But how do you know when your partner is being deliberately disrespectful and if it’s time to do something about it?

If your partner is doing something that’s bothering you, it’s important to say. It might seem easier to avoid confrontation, but the situation will only get worse if you try to ignore it. What you allow to happen will continue to happen.

Not sure if disrespect is an issue in your relationship? Keep reading to see some of the most common ways you can identify if it’s happening to you.

Even if you think your partner is being disrespectful, all is not necessarily lost. Find more tips below to see how you could go about changing your relationship for the better, and when to know if it’s gone too far to save.

Speak to a certified relationship counselor about this issue. Why? Because they have the training and experience to help you handle a spouse who displays disrespectful behavior toward you. You may want to try speaking to someone via RelationshipHero.com for practical advice that is tailored to your exact circumstances.

9 Signs Of Disrespect In A Relationship

1. They don’t value your time or effort.

Is your partner always late when they’ve promised to meet you?

Do they notice when you put yourself out for them, or when you make more of an effort in your relationship at any time?

Do they show their appreciation when you organize date nights or trips for the both of you?

If these are issues in your relationship, it’s not surprising that you’re feeling unseen and disrespected by your partner.

The expectation that you will always be there waiting for them or to pick up after them without any recognition sounds as though they’ve become too comfortable in your relationship.

Because they feel safe in the knowledge that you will be there no matter what, they’ve stopped putting effort in from their side and have become disrespectful of your time and energy.

The more they leave you waiting or are unappreciative of your gestures, the more demoralized it will make you feel.

Your time and effort is just as valuable as theirs. You should both feel as though you are getting as much out of your relationship as you are putting into it. If that balance is off, it needs to be addressed.

2. They ignore or overstep your boundaries.

This type of negative behavior from a partner can show itself in different shapes and forms.

It might be that they don’t respect your personal choices in how you want to live. It could be choices in the food you eat, or the activities you do that they don’t agree with or support.

Perhaps they don’t respect your privacy because you’ve found them going through your phone or personal belongings without your permission.

It may even be a problem in the bedroom where you feel as though any time you say ‘no’ to something sexual you aren’t comfortable with or in the mood for, they still think they can convince you otherwise.

This all comes down to your partner not taking your boundaries seriously and placing their needs above yours. It shows that whatever you say, they feel as though they can convince you round to their way of thinking and that their feelings are more valid than yours are.

If it continues, this type of behavior can leave you powerless in the relationship, unable to make them listen to any objection or opinion you have.

You shouldn’t be a passenger in your relationship, unable to have a voice to match your partner’s. You are one half of this partnership and deserve to be taken seriously whether or not your partner agrees with your personal choices or opinions.

3. They don’t listen to your opinion.

There’s a difference between disagreeing with someone’s opinion and showing them disrespect by not acknowledging it at all.

You don’t have to agree with each other 100% of the time, and sometimes there might be issues where you and your partner will never fully see eye to eye.

In these situations, ask yourself whether or not you still feel heard? Although they may not agree with your opinion, do they at least allow you to share it and take it seriously?

If your partner shuts down the conversation by telling you your opinion is ‘wrong’ and won’t allow you time to explain, then they aren’t showing you the respect you deserve.

There isn’t always a right or wrong answer, but disagreeing with someone doesn’t have to mean either of you are wrong, just that you approach the subject differently.

Your opinion is an expression of how you feel about something, and in your relationship, you have a right to share your thoughts and feel listened to.

If you respect your partner enough to let them share their opinion in peace, the least they can do is show you the same level of respect back.

4. They control your voice.

A lot of disrespect comes from a need for control by one partner over the other. They don’t see you as an equal in this relationship and instead try to overpower you so they can feel in charge.

Examples of this type of behavior include your partner speaking over you rather than letting you finish a sentence, or raising their voice so you can’t be heard.

Anything your spouse does that deliberately stops you from having a say and sharing your opinion is a way of them cutting you out of the conversation and only allowing their thoughts to be heard.

Giving you the silent treatment until you cave in to their demands, known as stonewalling, has the same effect as cutting off your voice, but in a different way. If your spouse deliberately blocks your calls and ignores any attempt at discussion, they’re manipulating the situation by silencing you completely and not engaging with you until you give in to them and they’ve gotten the result they wanted.

If they aren’t allowing you an equal voice in this relationship, they aren’t giving you the same level of respect they expect for themselves. It’s not only disrespectful but hurtful and manipulative and is a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

5. They’re not honest with you.

Trust is one of the biggest factors in whether or not a relationship will work out.

You have to be able to trust each other in order to be vulnerable around each other and build a deeper connection. If your partner isn’t being honest with you, then trust between you can’t develop and your relationship won’t progress.

If you think your partner is lying to you, or they deliberately disappear for long periods of time with no contact, not only does this affect your trust in them, but it shows that they aren’t taking you seriously as an equal partner in this relationship.

There is no place for dishonesty between a couple. It can shatter a relationship in an instant and make it impossible for you to trust each other again.

Even the smallest lie can escalate and shows that your partner does not respect you enough to be truthful with you, making you wonder what else they could hide from you in the future.

Similarly, just because they aren’t actively lying about where they are going, it still shows that they don’t care about the worry or upset they cause you by not communicating and would rather put their needs above yours.

It’s not that you should message each other constantly; you can still have your independence in a relationship while checking in with each other regularly. But there is no excuse for lying to your spouse, and you should always think about how your actions could make your partner feel.

Disrespect comes from a lack of thought and care for the other person. You need to be a team that is willing to, and able to, trust each other completely if this relationship is going to last.

6. They talk down to you.

How you communicate in your relationship is personal to each individual couple. For some, swearing at each other may be part of daily life, while for others, it’s not acceptable.

However you interact, there is a line where language becomes derogatory and disrespectful. If the tone of your partner is aggressive and bullying, and they’re choosing language that they know will trigger and hurt you, it shows a fundamental lack of respect in your relationship.

Their language doesn’t always have to be vulgar or aggressive. Belittling you, patronizing you, and dismissing your feelings are all examples of your partner knowingly hurting you and trying to overpower you through their language.

If you respect your partner, you shouldn’t ever feel that it’s okay to speak to them as though they are less worthy than you. Both of you have a right to be heard and given space to share your emotions and opinions without fear of judgment. You shouldn’t be willing to purposefully insult each other. Hurtful words are hard to forget.

7. They use your own feelings against you.

Allowing yourself to be physically and emotionally vulnerable in front of your partner can be hard for some people. But it’s essential to grow a deeper connection together as a couple.

In order to be vulnerable with your feelings, you have to trust that whatever you share with each other remains private.

Your partner should respect that some things between a couple should remain between a couple, especially those that are deeply personal. If they are openly talking about your insecurities without your permission, it shows huge disrespect for the trust you’ve shown them and built between you.

Equally, if they are using your insecurities to their advantage, playing on your emotions, and trying to manipulate you by using what you’ve shared with them against you, then this is a toxic situation you don’t want to have any part of.

You and your partner should be each other’s biggest cheerleaders, keeping each other’s confidence, supporting and helping each other through times of difficulty. If the respect for each other’s trust and openness isn’t taken seriously, then your relationship won’t get very far.

8. They have inconsiderate habits.

There will be times when your partner annoys you, and vice versa. We all have our own little habits that irritate each other that are just part and parcel of any relationship.

But when your spouse’s habits goes past plain irritating and become inconsiderate, it shows that they don’t respect how their actions affect you or care about trying to change them.

It could be waking you up too early in the morning by turning on the light every day, knowing you want to sleep in, or deliberately being noisy when they know you need quiet to concentrate and work for a while. Maybe you share a car and they always take it before checking with you first or never fill it up with fuel for the next use.

When their actions significantly affect your daily life in a negative way, and you’ve tried asking them to stop and nothing changes, their behavior crosses into disrespectful territory and you have to question whether they consider your happiness as much of a priority as theirs.

9. They’re a flirt.

Your partner might naturally have a charismatic nature and flirtatious personality, but it’s obvious when harmless flirting crosses the line into something more serious and disrespectful.

If they are actively flirting with other people, especially in front of you, they could be trying to make you feel jealous and manipulate your feelings. What they’re doing is disrespectful of the relationship you share together and deliberately hurtful.

How can you really trust them if you see them flirting with other people? Even if they tell you it’s harmless fun, you should be in a relationship where your partner can’t take their eyes off you. You shouldn’t have to fight for their attention.

10 Ways To Handle Disrespect From Your Spouse

1. Communicate your deal breakers.

You might feel disrespected by your partner and that they are deliberately doing things to irritate and upset you. But have you ever actually told them where your boundaries lie?

Often, we assume that our partner knows what our triggers are and what lines not to cross, but unless you’ve made those boundaries clear to them, they might not fully understand.

Have a conversation with your partner about what your deal breakers are – different actions that always make you feel undermined and disrespected in your relationship.

Make it clear to them how and why you feel disrespected when they do certain things like talk over you or keep turning up late.

If you’ve communicated what your deal breakers are, the ball is in your partner’s court. Start to notice if they deliberately choose to cross the lines where they know you feel uncomfortable. Then you’ll see just how committed they are, or not, to making this relationship work.

2. Show your spouse there are repercussions for their behavior.

If you only give empty threats for your spouse’s bad behavior, then they will never respect your authority or boundaries.

Like a child that knows it will never be put on the naughty step, even when you say they will, your spouse’s behavior won’t change if they know there’s never any repercussions for it.

If your spouse pushes one of your boundaries, there has to be some kind of consequence for it. If you tell them you’ll leave or you expect an apology from them, then you need to have the confidence to follow through with it.

The more you ignore the situation, the more comfortable your partner will become with disrespecting you and their behavior will never change.

3. Seek professional counseling.

Some issues run deep, and whilst most things can be worked on as a couple, you might find a healthy resolution sooner and more easily with the help of an experienced and neutral third party.

Persistent disrespect is one of those issues that can be difficult to talk about without one partner feeling attacked and the other feeling like they can’t be completely honest.

That’s why having someone else join the conversation can help to ease the tension and allow you both to discuss all the relevant issues openly.

A relationship expert will have the experience you don’t in fixing marriages that are struggling. They will have training in how to identify problems and offer guidance to improve the situation.

As the spouse being disrespected, you might wish to speak to someone by yourself initially, just to get the situation clear in your head and to learn what your different options are.

Or you might wish to go straight for couples counseling. This is a good option if you feel your spouse is the type of person who would get upset to learn that you have been speaking to someone about them and your relationship behind their back.

Of course, they might not agree to go with you, in which case you can say that you’ll go by yourself.

Relationship Hero is a website where you can connect with a certified relationship counselor via phone, video, or instant message.

4. Don’t jump to conclusions.

We’ve all been guilty at one time or another of jumping to conclusions about our partner.

It might be that bad past experiences have made you more sensitive to situations where you could get hurt, and so you have your defenses up. If so, try not to think the worst of your partner before you have proof they did wrong.

You may think that your partner is being deliberately disrespectful, perhaps turning up late or not listening to you, but it could be that they have a genuine excuse or their actions are unintentional.

Try speaking to them before you react, to see if they are stressed or tired, or if there are any other reasonable excuses for them acting out of character.

They may not realize the affect their actions are having on you and would be mortified to hear it.

Rather than go straight in for an argument, try talking to them about when and why you felt they were being disrespectful, and see if they are open to making a change.

5. Take some time for yourself.

If you feel as though a lack of respect from your partner has been an ongoing issue in your relationship, it might be worth taking some time for yourself away from them.

When you have time away on your own, it’s a chance to think clearly, re-evaluate your relationship, and consider how happy you really are.

Emotions are heightened when you are always around each other, so by giving yourself a chance to tap into how you’re feeling away from your spouse’s presence, you can find a more balanced outlook on the situation. 

Think about what specific actions you find disrespectful and whether you think their behavior is deliberate, or if they’re oblivious to the hurt they’re causing you.

Think over any conversations you’ve had about how you feel and your partner’s reaction. Have you noticed any positive changes since you spoke to them about their behavior?

Getting some time away to assess your own feelings without pressure or distraction, you might find that you feel more positive about your relationship now you’ve had a chance to think rationally.

Alternatively, you might not even miss them which says all you needed to know right there.

6. Don’t copy their behavior.

Attack might be your natural form of defense when you’re feeling hurt, but just because your partner is being disrespectful, it doesn’t mean you should copy their behavior and lower yourself to their level.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, and as tempting as it might be to do the same back to your partner and make them feel how you do, deliberately disrespecting and hurting them to prove your point will only complicate the situation and lose you the moral high ground.

Hurting someone because they hurt you first is not the answer, and you can’t build a happy relationship that way. If you’re acting just as badly as they are, even to prove a point, why should they see a reason to change?

As difficult as it is not to retaliate, try not to copy their behavior if they are being disrespectful. Instead, focus on setting an example of how you expect to be treated.

If you’re becoming as bad as them to prove a point, any discussion about how to move on and not repeat this type of behavior can’t be taken seriously.

It will be hard and frustrating to turn the other cheek and not bite back if they’re showing you disrespect, but they’re more likely to listen to you if you can do it and show them a reason to change.

7. Understand if there is a pattern to their behavior.

Has a one-off situation gotten out of hand, or is your partner being disrespectful toward you on a regular basis?

If you’re not sure, try to think back to the times when this behavior has been an issue and see if there is any pattern that links them.

Does it only happen when you do something specific? Does it always happen at a time when your partner is stressed or tired, and do they need to work on handling their emotions better?

If it’s a one-time incident, you could have just caught your partner on a bad day. It’s no excuse to be rude to someone you love, but if they’re sorry for it, have apologized to you, and don’t do it again, you shouldn’t worry too much about disrespect being an issue in your relationship.

If however, your partner not showing you respect is a common problem and they aren’t showing any signs of changing, then this is a cause for concern.

Even if there is a pattern to their actions and you think you’ve found a solution to try to combat their negative behavior, unless they are willing to change because they see a problem in their behavior for themselves, they never will.

8. Stand up for yourself.

If you feel as though your spouse is being disrespectful toward you, then let them know it!

No one enjoys confrontation with their other half, but if you manage to remain calm and collected when you face them, you’ll be able to get your point across more clearly. And you’ll be taken seriously if you’re not overly emotional and starting a screaming match.

Standing up for yourself is vital if you want to have your spouse’s respect. If you shy away from calling them out on their misbehavior, there is no consequence to their actions.

Telling them then and there that you feel they are being disrespectful puts them on the spot and tells them exactly where your boundaries are and when they’re crossing them.

If you submit to their bullying, the situation will only get worse. People who are assertive and sure of themselves command respect, so don’t be afraid to remind your spouse of the respect you deserve.

Caveat: if your partner is physically abusive or you don’t feel safe when they are angry or upset, you should avoid antagonizing them. Instead, you ought to leave that toxic relationship as soon as you are able to in a safe way. 

9. Try being nice to each other.

When you’re upset with your partner, it’s hard to not let it influence your relationship. If you feel as though they aren’t giving you the respect or attention you deserve, you’ll naturally pull away from them and become more guarded around them. You’ll stop being as affectionate or spending quality time with them while the situation is tense.

It can be hard to get out of ruts like these and being distant and irritable with each other can often spark bigger arguments.

Despite how you feel, sometimes it’s better to lead by example and combat the issue with kindness. 

If you feel as though you and your partner always bring each other down, try building them up when there is the opportunity by showing physical affection or giving them a compliment.

One kind act can spark another, and you might find that by bringing more positivity into your relationship, your partner will begin to do the same back to you.

Try to fill your relationship with positive, loving energy, and not let the negative moments overwhelm you both. There will be bumps in the road, but you’ll be able to tackle them much better as a team and find it easier to discuss sensitive topics between you if you feel secure in your relationship.

Just don’t allow your kindness to be mistaken for weakness. You are not a doormat, nor should you accept poor treatment.

If your partner’s behavior doesn’t change when you make the effort to be nice, the final option might be your only choice…

10. Leave.

It’s not what you want to hear, but sometimes the best choices for us aren’t easy ones to make.

Respect is essential for a healthy, happy relationship. You and your spouse are equals in your relationship, and if the power balance is off then it’s not going to work.

To be loved, you have to be respected. If you don’t feel that your partner respects you, then you have to question how much they truly care about you.

Are they just in this relationship to control you? How happy are you really? Your relationship should bring out the best in both of you, not stifle one of you for the happiness of the other.

If you aren’t being loved and respected in the way you deserve, this relationship just isn’t the right fit for you. 

There will be someone out there who treats you how you should be treated, but first you have to start believing in yourself again and the respect you deserve.

Start by showing yourself some self-respect and walk away from this toxic relationship. Take back some ownership over how you want to live your life.

Respect is a fundamental part of any type of relationship, but even more so with a spouse.

This is someone you’ve committed your life to, through good times and bad, and should be the person you can rely upon and trust without question.

You should be in a relationship because you bring out the best in each other and are happiest when you’re together.

Without respect, you can’t have any of these things. The balance in your relationship is off because the foundation of trust and appreciation for each other isn’t there and your relationship will start to crumble.

There might be times when your spouse may not realize they’re being disrespectful and it’s up to you to communicate where your boundaries lie. Don’t be scared to be vocal about this, it gives your spouse a clear understanding of where your comfort zone ends and at what point they will begin to hurt you emotionally.

The most important thing to remember is that you deserve respect.

Whether your spouse is unintentionally being disrespectful or purposefully upsetting you, you deserve more than this behavior. You shouldn’t feel less worthy than your partner and less deserving of the attention and respect they expect from you.

A relationship is a type of partnership, and a partnership is based on equality. Everything you give your partner you should get in return, and vice versa.

Showing each other more respect might be something you need to work on together with your spouse by being more open and candid with each other. It goes both ways in a relationship and they need to have a level of respect from you too.

Love is built on respect and these two things are what makes a relationship last. You can’t have one without the other and you shouldn’t be with someone who you don’t feel values you for everything you are and everything you bring to this relationship.

But if your partner is deliberately treating you in a disrespectful way and you see no signs of it changing, and you know you’re worth more than this, then what are you staying for?

If you can’t be respected by your spouse, at least show yourself enough respect to look for the treatment you know you deserve, and find the courage to leave them behind.

Still not sure what to do about the disrespect your spouse shows you?

Speak to an experienced relationship expert about it. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours.

Relationship Hero is a website where you can connect with a certified relationship counselor via phone, video, or instant message.

While you can try to work through this situation yourself or as a couple, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can fix. And if it is affecting your relationship and mental well-being, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.

Too many people try to muddle through in their relationships without ever being able to resolve the issues that affect them. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, speaking to a relationship expert is 100% the best way forward.

Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service Relationship Hero provide and the process of getting started.

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