4 Ways to Tear Apart A Relationship- Contempt

#2 Contempt In his book, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, John Gottman describes contempt as the intention to insult and psychologically abuse your partner. Wow, that sounds bad, right? I don't think any of us set out to do this, but in the following examples, I think more of us are guilty of contempt than we realize.

Contempt is when we hold negative thoughts about our partner. Where as we start off with an innocent arguement, the further it goes, we no longer have any admiration for our spouse, and eventually forget why we married them in the first place. With contempt, we cannot see any positive qualities about our partners at all.

The most common signs of Contempt are:

  • Insults and Name Calling - whether it's calling each other a "jerk", "lazy", or worse
  • Hostile Humor - covering up contempt with a thin layer of humor. Cracking mean jokes at our spouse's expense
  • Mockery - a very passive put-down. When you put down/make fun of/ridicule  your spouse's words are actions
  • Body Language -  rolling your eyes, grunting, laughing , curling your upper lip, etc., while your spouse is sharing with you

The best way to approach your spouse and stop contempt is to stop seeing arguments as a way to "get back" at your spouse or get power over your spouse. Your relationship will get better if you approach your partner with direct complaints (see yesterday's blog for the difference between a complaint vs. a criticism) and show your spouse admiration.

*Source: Why Marriages Succeed or Fail by John Gottman

Written by: Tamara Wilhelm MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.