This blog post is part of a series about the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse from Dr Gottman. The first post was about Criticism, and this one, the second is about Contempt.
Contempt is stronger than criticism; it is meaner. It is insulting or abusing (emotionally). Contempt can be one or a mix of insults, sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, eye-rolling or mockery.
Contempt is the GREATEST predictor of relationship failure. If you find that your partner, yourself or both of you are in Contempt, it is time to seriously work on that, and get help from a professional if needed.
“Aren’t you listening to me? Do you have any brain?”
“Are you stupid? I never meant that!”
“Oh listen to you! You lazy ass. You never want to get out of the house!”
“You aren’t happy with me? Then fine! Go find someone crazy enough to like you”
As you can see, Contempt is turning the relationship toxic. It makes it about fighting, drama, arguments and rejection. In that state, we have filled our tanks of resentment for weeks, if not months or years. We want to strike back, and get to our partner. We want them to feel the pain we are feeling ourselves.
The antidote of contempt is… surprise! Gratitude through a culture of appreciation! It is official, there is now a countless number of articles about the benefits of gratitude on relationships on that blog! (my last article talking about it with links to the previous ones in it).
The focus here is about appreciating the qualities of our partner. They have flaws, there is no doubt about that and these flaws drive us crazy at times. But we have flaws too. We are not perfect. Re-connect to what was attracting to you in that wife or husband of yours. Maybe it was their unsatiable cravings for adventures, or maybe it was their wisdom and calmness. It could be their acceptance, love, and their gentleness. Or that sharp mind. No matter what, there are many reasons why you love that person, and while they might disappear in contempt, we can always go back later to them, and slowly, decide to create a culture of appreciation.
Another way to use that antidote is looking for positives actions. Pay attention when they take care of the household or the kids, they do not owe you that. Pay attention when they have a positive thought about you and dared to share it with you. More than pay attention, express your gratitude for it. Feed on positive actions!
The topic of Contempt links extremely well to an article I wrote Why You Should Never Question Intent in Your Relationship. Your partner ALWAYS, and I dare to say ALWAYS have a positive intent. Even in Contempt. If you question Intent, you are destroying your relationship. A relationship cannot be built on lack of trust and lack of commitment. Questioning Intent as shacking these two foundations of your relationship.
Thank you for your time and reading my post.
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