We all want successful relationships and one way to achieve that success is to avoid research proven things that destroy relationships. Studies have shown that the single best predictor of divorce is the presence of contempt. Otherwise known as the “sulfuric acid” of love – quite a description! The reason that contempt is so destructive is that any statement that is considered contemptuous communicates a feeling of disgust to your partner. Contempt develops in relationships because we feel that our needs are repeatedly not met and that are partner owes it to us to meet them.
Examples of contempt include name calling, talking down to your partner, being condescending, or dismissing your partner’s feelings or value. A contemptuous partner can also show contempt through non verbals such as eye rolling and sneering. These actions are poisonous to your partner and the relationship, and it must be repaired as soon as possible.
The receiver of a contemptuous message generally ends up feeling inferior or “less than” the speaker. Over time, this lowers their feelings of self worth, damages their confidence and can even contribute to them getting physically sick more often. As a result they often become defensive and shut down.
The best way to avoid contempt is to identify the need you wish to be fulfilled and communicate it in a way that your partner can actually take in. Below are a few tips and tricks to accomplish this in order to avoid the irreparable damage that long lasting contempt creates in your relationship:
- Use “I statements” or feelings statements to communicate your need. When you frame your need, request or statement in terms of how you are feeling about a given event versus attacking your partner; they are much more likely to hear you out.
- Calm down before you let contempt take over. Chances are, if all you feel is contempt, you have reached a sense of fight or flight that is unhealthy to stay in when you are communicating with your significant other. Take 30 minutes and do something calming before expressing yourself.
- Make sure you recognize positive things that your partner does do and express appreciation to them for it. These small acts will counterbalance any contempt that does occur or has occurred in the past.
If you are feeling stuck in contempt and need additional help, contact us today we would be happy to help.