01/13/2014 11:49 am ET Updated Mar 15, 2014

How Much Are You Worth?


How much are you worth? The answer will definitely depend on who you ask, as well as the weight you put on the opinions and expectations of others; however, the reality is that you should put far less weight on the opinions and expectations of others than you put on the opinions and expectations of yourself. This is an extremely hard concept to grasp, and when you are in a long-term relationship or marriage, it is frequently a hard concept to remember.

Although the movie Pretty Woman was fictional, Julia Roberts's statement "The bad stuff is always easier to believe" is true. Whether you're a spouse, significant other, parent or child, your "worth" is gauged, in part, by the way in which you allow yourself to be treated. If you don't believe you are "worthy" of respect, why would you expect others to respect you? If you allow your children, spouse or friends to speak to you in a demeaning manner, why shouldn't they?

Life is hard, and so are relationships. In any long term relationship there are going to be periods when you are in a good place, and periods when you're not. If the person with whom you are in a relationship is putting you down when you are in a bad place, it will be that much harder to get back to a good place.

The first time I was pregnant, I gained 50 pounds. There was no way to get around it, or me. I was huge. I would complain to my husband that I was fat, and he would say, "You're not fat, you're pregnant. When you have the baby you'll lose the weight."

Although it took some time, he was right, I lost the weight. However, what would have happened if he told me I was fat, and I needed to go on a diet as soon as the baby was born? There is no doubt I would have been hurt, and my self-esteem and self-worth may have taken a direct hit.

As a divorce attorney, I see on a daily basis the impact a spouse's negative words and actions have on the other spouse. The fact that a couple jointly agreed one spouse would leave the workforce to stay home with the children is forgotten. Instead, the working spouse begins complaining that the stay-at-home spouse is lazy and doesn't understand what it's like to "really" work. Interestingly enough, the stay-at-home spouse actually starts apologizing for not working. Similarly, the spouse who is the primary breadwinner, and whose income provides the lifestyle for the family, is berated for always working and not really caring about the family. That spouse ultimately feels like he or she can't do anything right, and isn't really even needed at home.

Imagine how differently people would feel if they were constantly told how beautiful/handsome they were, how much they were appreciated, and how much they were loved. While these might not be words that are spoken on a daily basis, do not sell yourself short. They are words that you should be hearing more often than not. You are worth it, and you need to remember the wonderful things about yourself, even if others don't.