Marriage Destruction: Contempt
In Gottman’s marriage research, the second horseman marriage killer is contempt. Contempt occurs when one spouse begins to believe that he/she is greater than the other spouse. The spouse looks down on the other and begins to have a filter of disrespect. Contempt in marriages are cancers to the relationship survival.
The characteristics of contempt might come out as sneering, belittling the ideas of the spouse, or using sarcasm to mock the other spouse in the presence of others. It may also come out in eye-rolling, name-calling, mockery, and hostile inappropriate humor. Everything that happens in the relationship goes through this negative filter and often gets distorted.
Contempt Marriage Disrespect
Contempt becomes poison to the health of the marriage and impossible to find resolutions for problems when one spouse experiences disrespect. For example, when I work with couples that are working through infidelity in the relationship, the spouse that betrayed can become the focus of all problems in the marriage. The message by the betrayed spouse is “fix him/her and our marriage will be good.” The betrayer is looked down upon by the betrayed spouse and setups one spouse as greater than the other. All issues in the marriage are then filtered through contempt for what the betrayer has done to the betrayed spouse.
Contempt Negative Beliefs
Contempt is empowered by negative thoughts and beliefs about the spouse. The Hope Counseling Center marriage counselors work with couples to identify contempt and encourage both spouses to eliminate it from their interactions together. Contempt in the relationship must be addressed or the marriage will not survive.
If you are experiencing contempt within your marriage or relationship, please contact our counseling center today to setup a relationship counseling session with one of our marriage therapists. We can help you begin healing and restoring your marriage.