Contempt goes far beyond criticism.
Criticism attacks your partner’s character, contempt assumes a position of moral superiority over them. When you mock your partner, call them names, roll your eyes or sneer in disgust, you are expressing contempt. Contempt is serious. These interactions effectively destroy any sense of security, affection, respect, and solidarity in your relationship.
Gottman says if you separate out the four horsemen, Contempt is the single greatest predictor of divorce and it has to be eliminated. Research even shows that couples that are contemptuous of each other are more likely to suffer from infectious illness (colds, the flu, etc.) than others due to weakened immune systems! Contempt is fueled by long-simmering negative thoughts about the partner.
Check yourself when you are really angry and remember the power of those words to destroy your marriage. Don’t say everything you feel in anger, but focus on getting the clear point across without name-calling and put-downs. Gottman says to focus on building a culture of appreciation in the marriage. When you are not so angry, make a habit of finding things that you are grateful for in your spouse and letting them know what they are. It;’s not easy to change the way you communicate when you’re angry, especially if you grew up with your parents slinging zingers at each other when they were mad, but it can be done.
This happens when the listener withdraws from the conversation. It’s not the same as giving the cold shoulder, which we women are unfortunately pretty good at. Stonewalling happens during a conversation where the listener just shuts down. The stonewaller may look like he doesn’t care, but usually, he’s just overwhelmed and is trying to calm himself down. This doesn’t work, though because then you are left feeling like he doesn’t care. He may leave or walk out and that starts a vicious cycle where one of you is demanding to talk and the other is looking for an escape.
understand that arguing past the point of either one of you feeling overwhelmed is pointless. I know you want a resolution, an apology or you just want to feel better, but it won’t happen if one of you is checked out. Forcing it will only cause more issues.
Learn to recognize when you or your partner are feeling overwhelmed and agitated. And agree to both check out for a few minutes to calm yourselves down.
It’s Uber important that you come back to the conversation, but only after you can both be present.
Basically, the four horsemen are checkpoints for relationship conflict. Staying aware of them and making sure you are working to eliminate then from your communication with your partner increases the chance that you two will see your golden years together.
The good news is that the outcome of your marriage is something that you have control over. You can change the way you communicate with your spouse and it can change the trajectory of your marriage.
You’ve got this!
Written by:Drzoeshaw Originally appeared on: Drzoeshaw.com Republished with permission