Learning to Manage Dispute 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 Dispute and marriage below:  


The fourth of the “four horsemen” (Gottman uses the term “belligerence” to refer to a more severe form of scorn. The four horsemen’s cousin is another name for aggression. Gottman discovered that “contempt in a relationship” was a strong predictor of divorce in 86 percent of cases, making him believe that it was the most harmful of the four horsemen. Any behavior that makes your partner feel “cast down” is considered “contempt.” Contemptuous communication might have negative consequences. Being disrespectful to people and making fun of them with sarcasm and condescending language are both examples of contempt. Similar rules apply to calling someone a name, copying them, and utilizing sneering or rolling your eyes as body language. Because it conveys superiority and disgust, contempt in any form, especially moral, ethical, or characterological scorn, is bad for relationships. Examples include minimizing your partner, treating them with contempt, rolling your eyes, sneering, insults, calling names, making fun of them, and being cynical.

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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