The number one predictor of divorce, according to researcher John Gottman, is not money problems or infidelity. It’s contempt for your spouse, or, to be more clear, it is contemptuous behavior toward your spouse. Even if you truly love your spouse and hold no contempt for him or her, you are probably guilty of some of the big behaviors that indicate contempt.
Signs Of Contempt That You Might Not Recognize (But Your Spouse Will)
Communication is the key to any relationship, but not all communication is verbal. Sure, it is easy to say something out loud that displays contempt for your spouse (“I HATE YOU,” for a rather on-the-nose example), but there are certain nonverbal cues that can display the type of animosity and contempt that can poison the well of your marriage and lead to a slow spiral into divorce.
- Nonverbal Contempt Cues: Eye-rolling. Heavy sighs. Smirking when your spouse tries to bring up an issue that you find trivial, but your spouse does not. Walking away. Ignoring your spouse. Condescending looks when you are speaking.
- Verbal Contempt Cues: Name-calling. Excessive and biting sarcasm (sarcasm can be healthy ”“ but not when it is used to belittle someone). The word “whatever” in response to a point your spouse makes. “You’re overreacting” when he or she is bothered by something you did. Insults (body-shaming, gender-shaming, insert-type-of-shaming-here)
Contempt is something that builds over time, especially when couples do not communicate to one another effectively. Little things that may not bother you at the time begin to build up, day by day, and keeping that sort of thing bottled up can certainly tear a marriage apart.