It’s not arguing about money.
It’s not arguing about sex.
It’s CONTEMPT — treating your spouse with disregard and disrespect, as worthless, beneath your consideration, or deserving of scorn. Tracey Cox, 53, is an English author who specializes in books on dating, sex and relationships. She has appeared on UK radio and TV shows, including BBC Radio 1’s Ask the Experts and BBC2’s The Sex Inspectors. She is also a columnist for Closer magazine and the Daily Mail Online.
Writing for the Daily Mail on Feb. 26, 2015, Cox warns that the one thing couples do that can predict divorce with 93 per cent accuracy is to show contempt for our spouse.
That’s the conclusion of John Gottman, founder of the US Gottman Institute, from his study of 79 couples for 14 years. In the course of those years, 21 couples divorced.
Gottman was 93% correct in predicting which couples divorced. His prediction was entirely based on identifying those couples who showed contempt for their partner – a sign they saw them as beneath them rather than as an equal. The contemptuous couples also showed other key negative behaviours – criticising, being defensive and stonewalling (sulking and refusing to talk for days on end).
Since then (the study was published in 2002), years of research – including a recent study of 373 newlywed couples – has supported Gottman’s hypothesis.
Here are some other surprising things that researchers found are indicators that your relationship is in danger:
- Being the ‘boss’: The person with the most authority feels less fulfilled. Equality in relationships is crucial.
- Being over optimistic: Having too high expectations of the relationship usually leads to disappointment.
- Putting your partner on a pedestal: Being over-idealiszd puts strain on the ‘perfect’ partner, who feels they can’t show insecurity or flaws.
- Over-analyzing the relationship: Constantly questioning whether you’re in love enough/close enough/how well you’re doing makes both of you nervous and ruins trust.
So what’s the antidote to contempt and all the other marriage killers? The wise St. Paul has the answer! — in 1 Corinthians 13:1, 4-7:
If I speak in human and angelic tongues
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered,
it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
There is also a short-cut answer, and it’s in the Greatest Commandment of all:
Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.
If you do that, how can you ever treat your spouse with contempt?