Tuning out what he would say, rolling my eyes, Interrupting what he was saying, finishing his sentences, correcting him, pointing out where he was wrong, mocking him, deep signs when he said things, minimizing him with my tone of voice, sarcasm towards what he said, fixing what he would do, look of disgust towards them.
These things happened almost daily in our marriage and I had no idea that these behaviors are the number 1 sign of divorce!
Do you find yourself doing any of these things to your spouse?
These are all signs of contempt and according to John Gottman it is the single most corrosive behavior in a relationship and the biggest predictor of divorce.
I love my husband, so I had no idea I was harboring feelings of contempt toward him! That was until I learned the definition and saw the symptoms.
Cambridge dictionary defines contempt as a strong feeling of dislike and having no respect for someone or something.
According to Webster contempt is the act of despising, disdain or seeing someone as below you.
When I really took the time to analyze my beliefs and behavior, I saw myself and my ways as better or above my husband in so many areas:
- In nutrition
- Training the kids
- Doing laundry
- Pace of life
- Follow through
- Telling stories
- Spending money
Each time he did something, I judged it and thought, ‘That is not the way I would do that! My way is better. I am better!‘.
Contempt came out most commonly in these three ways.
- In conflict: In conflict I looked for evidence that I was right. The more right I became, the more arrogance grew. And the more lowly I saw my husband.
- Control: I wanted control and in order to get that I needed to convince myself, and him, that my way was better.
- Ego and Self Worth: I was constantly trying to protect my ego and self worth. I acted arrogantly to hide my own insecurity, inferiority, and lack of confidence.
So what can be done to heal contempt and grow toward a marriage worth having?
Transformational coaching comes from the understanding that as human beings what we believe produces what we think, which produces what we feel, which ultimately produces what we do.
In order to heal the contempt toward my husband, I had to first figure out what I was believing that was leading me to think and feel that I was above my husband, which was producing all the symptoms I mentioned above and driving our relationship to one filled with defensiveness and disconnection.
One belief that was contributing to the contempt I was feeling and displaying revolved around feeling unseen and lonely. It is impossible to connect with someone when you feel that they are below you (or you are below them!). I was able to shift my focus from loneliness to connecting with my husband.
I also shifted my belief that in every situation there is right and wrong (and that I was always on the side of right). Instead, I was able to come to the realization that it’s okay for things to just be different. The constant need to be right was the driving force behind my loneliness. Shifting this belief turned conflict into an opportunity to get to know each other deeper and grow together.
Another way I healed contempt toward my husband was by getting to know my shadow. If you’d like to learn about what that means and more on the topic of contempt and what to do about it, you can do that here, on this episode of my HeyJuliaWoods Youtube channel!
Healing contempt is an on going process in a relationship, but over time as you see those symptoms emerge, you will be able to more quickly get to the root cause and turn back to connection with your spouse.
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