You are currently viewing Learning to Manage Discord in Relationships: Part IV

Learning to Manage Discord in Relationships: Part IV

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Last week we explored Defensiveness, the third of the four horsemen to be aware of when learning how to manage dispute in marriage. Check out Part IV of what we have to say about Managing Discord and marriage below:


The fourth of the four horsemen (belligerence is a term used by Gottman to describe a stronger form of contempt. Belligerence is also known as the cousin of the four horsemen).  Gottman believed that “contempt” was the most dangerous of the horsemen and he found that “contempt in a relationship” was predictive of divorce in 86 percent of cases. “Contempt” can be described as any behavior which causes your partner to feel “put down”. The effects of communicating with contempt can be severe. Contempt involves treating others disrespectfully and making fun of them with sarcasm and condescending. The same goes for insulting humor, calling someone names, imitating, and using sneering or eye-rolling as body language. Disdain in any form, especially moral, ethical, or characterological contempt, is harmful to a relationship because it communicates disgust and superiority. Examples include belittling your partner, treating them with disdain, eye rolling, sneering, insults, name calling, mocking and cynicism.

Simple acts of contempt include disdain or disgust for your partner’s manners when eating, driving, or snoring at night. The following are red flags of “contempt”: Your lover no longer inspires admiration in you. You find it challenging to recall your partner’s favorable qualities. You believe your companion suffers from serious personality disorders. Among the remedies for contempt are: Concentrate on the positive traits of your mate. When you notice that things are getting heated, use “time-out.” Watch your facial expressions and tone of voice. Don’t concentrate on the person, just the conduct. Most key, learn to understand your partner’s perspective. We frequently have a better understanding of the reason(s) behind our partner’s conduct when we are able to put it into perspective. As a result, we are better able to see that their behavior is about them rather than about us.

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