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Contempt is corrosive

May 12, 2011

A Great Idea …

“A spouse who has contempt for his or her partner actually intends to insult or psychologically wound that person. Contempt often comes from feeling disgusted or fed up with your spouse, disapproving of his or her behavior, and wanting to get even. When you are feeling contemptuous, you fill your mind with demeaning thought – my spouse is ignorant, repulsive, inadequate, an idiot. In marriage, the longer you hold on to such thoughts, the harder it becomes to remember what attributes you found attractive in your spouse in the first place.” (John Gottman, professor of psychology, in his book, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child. p. 151)

In Other Words …

Contempt is corrosive. It destroys the love we once felt and damages the prospects for healing. We may think that the contempt is justified. We may think it will spark needed action in our partner. It’s more likely to simply destroy the relationship. This is a lot like burning down the house to fry an egg. It’s a terrible price to pay to make your point.

How This Applies to You …

The next time you feel contemptuous of your partner, take a minute to get some perspective. Maybe you should take a walk. Consider what pressures may be making you upset. Consider the good qualities in your partner that got you together. Consider the great times you have had together. Make a resolve to set aside the issue until you are feeling peaceful.

To Find Out More …

For an excellent (and free!) program on marriage, see The Marriage Garden at Arkansas Families.

For an excellent book focused on marriage, read The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.

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