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November 27, 2006

TURNING A GOOD RELATIONSHIP INTO A GREAT RELATIONSHIP…takes more than just respect.

I have long struggled with putting words to what it takes to be in a healthy relationship. I’ve talked about being respectful, being tender, being kind, cherishing, loving etc., but nothing to date, has really hit the mark for me…until Sunday.

Yes, I must say, I was actually in church when I “got it”. What I have had difficulty putting words to is—reverence. Dictionary.com stated that reverence was defined as “a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe”. It further stated that to revere means, “to regard with the deepest respect, deference, and esteem”. A synonym for esteem is high regard.

Imagine if you and your partner had the deepest respect, admiration, and high regard for one another. Next, imagine that you both actually acted as if you did.

To have a soul-nourishing relationship you have to actually enjoy your partner. You have to feel blessed to have him/her in your life. You have to feel honored and a bit in awe that this person is sharing his/her life with you. When you feel that, you move from respect to “the deepest respect”, from like to admiration, and from neutral to deep honor.

This obviously won’t be felt every minute of everyday. Rather it will be an underlying feeling that is as comforting to your soul as a warm blanket is in winter time.

You see, being respectful is simply the bare minimum necessary for a healthy relationship. It’s the foundation upon which everything else is added. It’s not, however, the juice that truly fuels intimate, inspiring, soul-nourishing, relationships.

To have a soul-nourishing relationship requires some degree of reverence. This can look like a steady flow of tenderness, compassion, warmth and love. These relationships have a sense of teamwork. Both partners know they are in it together. They rejoice in each other’s successes and they are sad for each other’s difficulties. Partners in soul-nourishing relationships are very aware that they are blessed to be on the same team.

Challenge: What one move could you make to bring a bit of reverence into your relationship? What can you do to move from treating your partner with respect, to treating your partner with “the deepest respect”?

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I so agree with your last post about a great relationship needing more than respect. Respect is something one owes to virtually all other human beings, unless of course they have proved unworthy of respect. I have found that what engenders the feeling of warm, personal regard needed for a higher-level relationship is admiration. A continuing feeling of admiration for your partner will ensure that you want to continue with the relationship. Thus, living a life of integrity is directly related to the quality of one's close relationships. When one partner chooses to commit an act that lacks integrity -- such as infidelity -- the admiration for that partner disappears. The lost admiration seems as pivotal as the lost trust. Both take an enormous amount of time and work to re-earn.

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