Disrespect In Marriage: How To Deal With It

Keep an eye on these signs and learn the ways to save your marital relationship.

Reviewed by Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill, Ed.S., LMFT Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill Sharon Gilchrest O’NeillEd.S., LMFT twitter_iconyoutube_icon
Written by , Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Sneha Tete Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Edited by , MA (English) Asmita De MA (English) Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA (English) Gazala Firdos Ansari Integrated MA (English) Experience: 2 years

Marriages are made in heaven. But working towards a happy marriage happens on Earth! And, quite often, disrespect in marriage can ruin the happiest of relationships.

Every marriage has its ups and downs. But a strong foundation based on mutual respect, trust, and love and staying committed to make it work can help you weather all sorts of storms. If disrespect creeps in, it can destroy everything you both have worked towards. In this post, you will learn about the signs of disrespect in marriage and how to address them tactfully. Read on!

17 Signs Of Disrespect In A Marriage

Respect could mean different things to different people. It could also have gendered or cultural connotations, which adds to the diversity of what constitutes respect.

However, respect is about treating your partner as an equal and acknowledging their individuality. It allows each partner to freely live their lives on their terms while acknowledging the shared relationship and the responsibilities that come with it. Respect is a thread that joins two separate, whole beings.

Respect also forms the ground for trust and faith even when there are disagreements between the couple. And even if you do end up arguing with each other, respect calls for fighting fair wherein the opinions and feelings of both partners are honored and validated.

Quite often, people fail to notice disrespectful behavior in a relationship. They may shrug off disrespect in marriage as a part of their partner’s personality or assume that they are over-sensitive. To make things clear, read on to understand the signs of disrespect in a marriage that you may overlook.

1. Dishonesty

Dishonesty is a sign of disrespect in marriage
Image: Shutterstock

Honesty is always the best policy, especially in a relationship. An honest partner is respectful as they share and communicate with you as though you are their equal. In contrast, if your partner is dishonest with you, it indicates that they do not think of you as worthy enough to know all the information. In this way, your partner is depriving you of building deeper connections, which is also, in a way, disrespectful.

Of course, white lies, such as saying that the dress does not make you look like you gained weight, are harmless. But dishonesty regarding major issues like finances and whom you spend your time with erode trust.

2. Dismissing Needs

A healthy marriage requires that both partners meet each other’s needs, including physical, emotional, and mental needs. However, if you notice that your partner does not pay attention to your needs or ignores them entirely, it is disrespectful. It suggests they do not value you as an individual.

3. Constant Comparison

If your partner is always comparing you to other men or women and acting woeful about it, it is certainly a disrespectful way of behaving in a marriage. Marriage is about loving and accepting another person just the way they are. And such unwarranted and unnecessary comparisons show that they do not respect your individuality.

4. Blocking Off Communication

Blocking off communication is a sign of disrespect in marriage
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Communication is the key to a healthy and happy marriage. However, if you feel unheard or that your opinion does not matter, your partner is shutting themselves out of such conversations.

Marriage calls for openly communicating feelings and emotions and listening to them without judgments. But if you are just a punching bag for your partner to vent their emotions without catering to yours, that is a clear sign of disrespect.

5. Demanding Too Much

Does your partner take up all your time and energy with a long list of demands? If they implicitly expect you to clean up after them, fix their favorite food, pay all their bills, or catering to their emotional needs – it is a warning sign of disrespect in a marriage.

It shows that they do not respect your time and only see you as an easy way to meet their needs. Such a situation worsens when they are not ready to compromise and be accommodating in your direction. It is mostly “my way or the highway” with such a person.

6. Not Prioritizing You

In a marriage, your partner is always your priority. Putting them and their needs above everyone and anything else indicates your respect for your partner and the relationship. If your partner puts you at the bottom of their priority list, that is disrespectful.

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They flirt excessively with others, and, even in your presence, don’t hold themselves back. This is an indicator of disrespect.

7. Taking Major Decisions Individually

Be it handling a financial crisis or managing other crucial crises, if your partner does not value your opinion and refuses to find a solution together, that is a red flag– especially when there are constant financial disagreements. Moreover, if your partner determines all the crucial decisions by themselves – be it your child’s education or moving to a new city for work – that is also a sign of disrespect.

8. Being Unsupportive

Being unsupportive is a sign of disrespect in marriage
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A healthy relationship is impossible without couples supporting each other. When one falters, the other must stand beside them like a rock to help them get back on their feet. You should be able to count on your spouse for support, even in the craziest of situations or adventures.

It indicates that your spouse trusts your judgment and decisions and is willing to support you wholeheartedly. But if you find this aspect missing and feel like you are all alone in the marriage, your partner is disrespectful.

9. Insults And Mocks You

Insulting and mocking a partner or making fun of you is a clear indication of disrespect, whether it is done directly to you or behind your back.

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You may also notice that they often fail to introduce you to their friends or colleagues or bring you into the conversation. This might mean that they don’t value your involvement, which can be a clear sign of disrespect.

Of course, an occasional playful jab at you is an entirely different thing. But if you notice them constantly making jokes about you in social settings to the point where others get uncomfortable, it is time to draw the line. This is completely disrespectful.

10. Complaining Constantly

No matter how hard you try, there is no pleasing your partner. Does this statement ring a bell? If yes, it is another sign of disrespectful behavior. Complaining about your paycheck, job, looks, cooking, friends, family, or anyone dear to you shows your partner’s lack of respect for you.

Such behavior is a subtle indication that your partner considers themselves above you. It may also mean that you do not fit the mold of their ideal partner even though you leave no stone unturned. Of course, pushing you to be a better person or encouraging you to achieve more is a healthy thing to do. But if their demands leave you utterly exhausted, it is disrespectful.

11. Acting Bossy

Does your partner have control issues, meaning that they try to control your actions? Do they often try to dictate exactly how to do things to the point of distress and anxiety for you? If yes, your partner is bossy and controlling. This is a major flaw in a relationship and a sign of disrespect. Even signs of microaggressions and contempt, such as talking over you, undermining your achievements, or making decisions on your behalf, demonstrate that they do not value your opinions. In this situation, you might often face power struggles in the relationship with your partner, which can cause friction and resentment in your relationship.

Colleen Sheehy Orme, transitioned from a marketing/business columnist to a national relationship columnist and journalist, following several sessions of counseling and relationship research. She was married to a passive-aggressive person who manipulated and sabotaged her but was “normal” at other times, making it difficult to recognize any signs of disrespect. They would keep going in circles with the same conversations and her problems always remained unresolved. She adds, “It is impossible to resolve conflict with disrespectful people because they communicate with their ego (i).” She faced issues like frustration over conveying thoughts and a constant need to defend and prove herself.

12. Not Apologizing

Not apologizing is a sign of disrespect in marriage
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Even the healthiest marriages have arguments and disagreements. But how the couple reconciles and overcomes the problem is what makes the marriage successful. Regardless of who is at fault, both partners must have the humility to say sorry and extend the white flag occasionally.

But if you are the one who is always apologizing while your partner basks in it, something is off. Your partner’s inability to apologize indicates that they do not value your thoughts and emotions. Certain mistakes, such as infidelity and physical or emotional abuse, are the hardest to forgive. These behaviors are generally not accepted, and sometimes apologies make no difference. But in case of other less damaging or silly mistakes, it’s always better to take responsibility and apologize.

13. Withdrawing Affection

If your partner is using sex, intimacy, or affection as a tool to have things their way, they are disrespecting the relationship. They may withdraw affection to use it as leverage to pressure you into something you had not agreed to in the first place.

14. Giving You The Silent Treatment

Much like withdrawing affection, giving silent treatment is also a sign of disrespect. Moreover, it is rude to deliberately ignore someone you love. It is one of the most unproductive ways of communicating in the relationship and reflects your partner’s immaturity. Since it is a passive-aggressive cry for control, experts often categorize it as a form of emotional abuse.

15. Invading Your Personal Space

Is your partner snooping around your phone or obsessively checking out your social media profile? If yes, they are clearly out of line. It is a sign that they do not trust you to be faithful. Of course, such behavior may make sense if your marriage has had a brush with infidelity. However, if it stems from a place where reason does not reside, it is a clear sign of disrespect.

16. Being Late

Being on time often conveys one’s reliability and trustworthiness. In marriage, spending quality time with your partner is key to maintaining a strong and healthy bond. While being occasionally late due to emergencies is fine, tardiness may indicate a lack of consideration and respect for your partner’s time. This can lead to constant conflicts, stress, anxiety, or feeling unappreciated or unimportant in a marriage.

17. Breaking Promises

Promises are the foundation of a trusting and happy relationship. Repeatedly breaking your partner’s promises is seen as a sign of disrespect and also undermines the integrity of the relationship. In addition, this kind of behavior creates mistrust and emotional detachment, hindering the collaborative effort required for a successful marriage.

Once you have detected the signs of disrespect, what do you do? Does it mean the marriage is so damaged that divorce should be considered? Not necessarily.

There are several ways to salvage a relationship, even if it has been ravaged by disrespectful behavior. Here are a few tips.

How To Deal With A Disrespectful Spouse

How to deal with a disrespectful spouse
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  1. Have an honest conversation with your partner. Share your emotions on how their behavior or treatment makes you feel and find ways to improve the situation.
  2. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. It is occasionally possible that your better half decided to say something in mirth, which ended up being tone-deaf or disrespectful. Talk to them and clarify. Try to understand if it was unintentional. Discussing the issue will help them practice caution in the future.
  3. Start becoming verbal with your praise and appreciation, and who knows, your partner may soon follow suit and do the same for you!
  4. Have a trusted friend or confidante who can offer you a third person’s perspective on what is wrong and how to deal with the situation. However, be careful about what you share, as publicizing your private affairs could also be disrespectful.
  5. Respect yourself and set clear boundaries. Whenever required, stand up for yourself. Let your partner know that you feel hurt by their behavior and disrespected. Understand the reason behind their behavior and work with them. If they are ready to rectify their mistakes, it is fine.
  6. If both of you have issues coming to a common ground, consult a marriage counselor. They can help create an environment where both of you can navigate the problems, communicate about the differences, and try to resolve issues amicably. With a counselor you will be able to eventually ascertain whether or not the marriage can be saved.

Infographic: 6 Telltale Signs Of Disrespect In A Relationship

Disrespectful behavior can take a toll on your relationship and self-esteem. While some behaviors, like lying and stopping communication, are clear to identify, most may go unnoticed. The infographic below lists a few not-so-obvious signs of disrespectful behavior you need to watch out for. Take a look.

6 telltale signs of disrespect in a relationship (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

While love may be the foundation of your relationship, it may not always be enough, especially when dealing with disrespect in marriage. Respect for each other is key in cementing your love and trust and strengthening your relationship. No matter how much your partner loves you, and if he truly loves you, respect for your opinions, likes, preferences, comfort, and space is vital for a healthy, sustainable marriage.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs of a disrespectful wife?

A disrespectful wife often shows rude behavior, never listens to a partner’s opinion, belittles the partner, and neglects household responsibilities.

What is a stronger word for ‘disrespectful’?

Impertinent, blasphemous, flippant, and contemptuous are a few stronger words for ‘disrespectful’.

How can disrespect impact a marriage?

Disrespect can have a negative impact on marriage and may even lead to divorce. If your partner thinks that you do not respect them and the work they do, it might make them feel demeaned and less valued. Respect, courtesy, and thoughtfulness are important to maintain a healthy marriage.

What are some common causes of disrespect in a marriage?

Some common causes of disrespect are – they have anger management issues, they might be trying to mask their insecurities, or may not feel an emotional connection towards you anymore.

How can couples establish healthy boundaries in their marriage to prevent disrespect?

It is important to practice open communication with your partner, express your thoughts and feelings, maintain personal space, and accept your mistakes instead of blaming them. Celebrate each other’s accomplishments as well.

Are there any specific gender dynamics that can lead to disrespect in a marriage?

Often orthodox societal ideas about gender dynamics may cause individuals to have a biased opinion, leading to disrespect in a marriage. For instance, husbands may belittle housewives and disregard their feelings because they are not an earning member of the house and hence are deemed inferior to them.

Key Takeaways

  • Ups and downs in a marriage are inevitable, but working towards having a happy and loving marriage can make it work.
  • Lack of communication, having too many unrealistic demands, ignoring the required marriage needs, dishonesty, constant hurtful comparisons, and the like indicate the fact that the marriage lacks respect.
  • Respect is of utmost importance to make a marriage last forever.
disrespect in marriage

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Do you feel disrespected in your relationship and are constantly made to feel small? Watch this video to figure out why this is happening and how to resolve these issues.

Personal Experience: Source

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Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill

Sharon Gilchrest O’NeillLicensed Marriage & Family Therapist

Sharon Gilchrest O'Neill is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Family Business Consultant with over 30 years of experience. She holds degrees in Marriage & Family Therapy, Organizational Psychology, and Developmental Psychology. An early, inspiring career experience as part of the group of professionals who founded the first freestanding hospice in the United States paved the way for her...read full bio

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