Hey, what you want
(Oo) Baby, I got
(Oo) What you need
(Oo) Do you know I got it?
(Oo) All I’m askin’
(Oo) Is for a little respect when you come home (just a little bit)
Hey baby (just a little bit) when you get home
(Just a little bit) mister (just a little bit)

How many of you know this song? I know it by heart and on many occasions have belted out the lyric at the top of my lungs; while shimming my shoulders for added effect. I’ve sung this song and danced around in my glory not really understanding the importance of the lyrics.

Ms. Aretha knew just how to make a statement. She has been telling us, women, what our men needed a long time to make our relationships last, but we just didn’t listen or maybe it was just me who didn’t listen. Not only did Aretha try to tell us but if you’ve listened to Dr. Myles Munroe then this concept wouldn’t be foreign to you. Or if you listen to Pastor Keion Henderson you would be familiar with it as well. They all reiterate that women need love while men need respect in intimate relationships. Shoots had I listened to my annoying know it all friend, I would have accepted this truth a long time ago. Alas, it’s better to learn late than never learn at all.

I always thought being respectful in a relationship meant being loyal and not cheating (physically) on my partner, engaging in mind-blowing sex, and being a good person. Turns out respect entails a whole lot more. More than I was willing to give as a youngster, not because I’m a bad person or a disrespectful person, but more so because it meant being completely open and vulnerable to another.  This meant communicating in a way that is clear and considerate at all times with my partner. It meant communicating through my discomfort, not shutting down, and expecting him to figure out what’s wrong. It meant being mindful of tone and body language when I engaged with my partner. It meant respecting our union as just that OUR union. Being mindful to keep our intimate conversations between us. Removing any relationship that hinders the growth of our intimate relationship. It meant providing a safe haven for my partner. By no means I am saying that this is exclusively a woman’s job, it’s the responsibility of the persons involved in that relationship.

Respecting my partner means accepting our relationship as a living organism. As we both grow and expand the dynamics of the relationship shift. Understanding and accepting that my partner has to focus on him and his goals on continually bettering himself as I do the same, is also something that should be encouraged. Yes, the relationship between us is important, however, the relationship he has with himself is equally important and should not be neglected.

Another eye-opener I encounter while exploring this concept of respect is that I have to learn how to respect myself first. How can I respect another if I was not respecting myself? Am I extending grace towards myself when I’ve made a mistake? Am I learning to forgive myself for my shortcomings? Am I intentionally living the life that I want for myself or am I living the life others expect me to be living? Do I have goals for myself that I am actively working towards? Am I honest with myself? Am I committed to continuously improving myself? After all, if I am seeking a relationship where I am able to respect my partner should I not be able to respect myself…

Anyways I’m off to listen to Respect by the late great Aretha Franklin while I dance around my bedroom contemplating what it means to me.

Happy Sunday