The #1 Way to Avoid Contempt in Your Relationship


The #1 Way to Avoid Contempt in Your Relationship

Do you want to stop contempt from creeping into your relationship or marriage? Especially contempt from continuous arguments you may be having with your partner?

Happy couples have some surprising ways of defusing arguments that you would never think of.

For example, happy couples often engage the following 3 points in order to de-escalate an argument and then find a solution for what they were arguing about:

  1. During the argument, they carefully listen to the points that the other partner brings up
  2. They then finish the argument quickly (frequently using distractions and diversions)
  3. And then secretly resolve to address their partner’s issues without drawing further attention to it.

The underlying issue in the argument is addressed and resolved. This method is very different from the tactics used by less harmonious couples, who often end up in shouting matches which make things worse rather than better. Such shouting matches lead to a build-up of contempt in the relationship. Which is ultimately a relationship killer.

Partners in a happy relationship don’t have shouting matches and “go for the throat” like this …and the result is that they not only tend to resolve the issues at hand, but they avoid the buildup of contempt in their relationship. The arguments create no long term damage.

The “Win At Any Cost” Approach

Research has shown that partners in happy relationships are able to keep a much higher ratio of positive to negative statements even in the heat of an argument.

They always make a point of softening criticisms by interspersing a healthy amount of positivity in what they say.

Couples in unhappy relationships, however, behave very differently. Partners in these relationships usually only make one positive statement for every criticism when they argue (in fact, the number is closer to 0.8 affirmative comments for each negative remark.)

So, how are happy partners able to stay so positive like this even when they are arguing?

Well, it comes down to their underlying mentality. You see, partners in a happy relationship are not trying to “win at any cost” when they argue. They don’t fall into the deadly trap of deliberately hurting their partner in the heat of the moment.

Unhappy partners, on the other hand, are constantly doing this, and over time they cause long-lasting harm to their relationship as they develop contempt for each other. The result is that it won’t be long before your partner doesn’t respect you.

Read 9 Common Negative Conflict Patterns That Damage Relationships

Looking At The “Win At Any Cost” Mentality More Closely

Here is an example to clarify what happens.

Imagine a relationship in which the woman is bothered by the fact that her partner won’t clean up after himself after he eats.

Let’s look at the way this type of argument might play out in a happy relationship versus an unhappy relationship:

Happy Relationship:

The woman says something like “I really appreciate the hard work you do every day, but I get annoyed whenever you leave dirty cutlery and dishes lying around after you eat.

It means that I have to work harder once the food is dried onto the dishes. Would you mind washing your dishes after you use them?”

Unhappy Relationship:

This time the woman says something more like: “Why don’t you ever help me? Whenever I go into the kitchen, I find dirty cutlery and dishes that you’ve thrown into the sink for me to wash. What’s the matter with you?

You can clearly see that the woman from the happy relationship makes a positive comment about her partner to take the sting out of the criticism she makes in the argument. This is a much better way to communicate in a relationship.

The woman from the unhappy relationship, however, doesn’t say a single positive thing. She has gone in for the kill, taking an attacking approach right from the outset when she says “Why don’t you ever help me?”.

She proceeds to deliberately hurt the man when she says something is the matter with him. The “happy” partner isn’t trying to win at any cost – and thus she is unlikely to create a situation that results in long-lasting hard feelings and damage to the relationship.

Here’s How to Do This

It’s easy for unhappy couples to fall into the trap of fighting to win at all costs. They can get caught up in it and quickly drag their partner along for the ride (it’s only too easy to respond in kind when someone attacks you).

So this is how you avoid the trap:

If you’re trying to have a happier relationship, the next time something is annoying you in the relationship or you and your partner are disagreeing on something, make a point of including positive compliments in what you say.

It’s best if you can do this right from the start of the interaction. If you’re bringing up a topic with your partner that’s likely to become an argument, begin with at least one (and preferably two or three) positive remarks.

Read Help Your Partner Understand Your Side of the Conflict in 3 Steps

In addition to helping your partner stay calm in the face of a difficult discussion, you’re also keeping yourself calm at the same time… helping you avoid the “win at any cost” attitude.

The #1 Way to Avoid Contempt in Your Relationship

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