In my humble opinion the two most important ingredients in any healthy marriage are trust and safety. In an emotionally safe marriage each spouse feels valued, understood, and accepted. They may not always agree with each other, but each partner attempts to understand the other’s point of view with warmth and empathy. In these solid marriages spouses are not afraid to radically disagree because they know that afterward they have the capacity to emotionally reconnect.
Sounds great right? But there is one deadly weapon that can obliterate this trust and safety in one fell swoop. It’s called contempt.
According to John Gottman, one of the nations top marriage experts, contempt is the number one predictor of divorce.
The definition of contempt is showing disrespect or disgust toward another. Contempt can slip in to even the best marriages. There are countless ways spouses show contempt for each other in both verbal and non verbal ways. It often comes in the form of name calling, snickering, sarcasm, eye rolling, and long heavy sighs. Like a poison it can erode this precious trust and safety and bring your marriage to a slow death.
When you live with another person there are bound to be feelings of resentment and frustration that cropping up from time to time. This is normal. Here are three things you can do to make sure these feelings don’t morph into this deadly attitude of contempt.
- Become aware of when you are feeling angry and annoyed. Simply notice and accept these feeling without judgement. As you begin to explore these emotions with compassion you can respond to your partner with greater precision and clarity.
- Let some time pass. Don’t react in the heat of the moment. Take some time to think about how you want to express these important feelings.
- Delivery is everything. Remember it’s not what you say, but how you say it that makes all the difference. Your goal is to be heard. So you need to present your message in a way that makes this happen without doing damage to the relationship.
IIf you would like the "rest of the story" click here to get my free resource: "How To Talk So Your Spouse Will Listen"