Jan 6, Subtle disrespect can often be a relationship killer. As we dug a little deeper, the couples often realized there were years of built-up resentments from small, everyday acts of subtle Relationships are a lot of work right?. May 14, Without respect, it is difficult to work with colleagues, honor friendships, believe in your boss, Working to regain respect could not only save your relationship, it will lighten your spirit. . How to shift anger to productive action. May 18, I work with a lot of couples and a lot of women who come to see me 10, We think we can sweep our grudges and resentments under the.
The Linguistic Element to Contempt in Relationships When I see contempt in therapy, I am quite specific with my couples about how damaging it is. However, I have noticed a habit of contemptuous language which is characteristically different than the more common exasperated-critical form of contempt.
This is contempt expressed as a default style of conveying irritation. For these couples, their contemptuous behavior is less a matter of criticism which has escalated, and more a result of poor communication habits acquired in the family of origin. When I have worked with these couples, I often found that they grew up in a family with a very impoverished emotional vocabulary. Distain is a close cousin of contempt in relationship.
Marriage Saver: Talking About Resentment | Symmetry Counseling
The crinkled nose cuts off the smell of something bad… Words Matter Research has proven that the more nuanced our verbal vocabulary becomes, the more nuanced our potential recognition and description of our emotional states can become. I encourage couples who are struggling to un-learn contempt in relationships as a default state to expand their emotional vocabulary.
New words can help describe a more nuanced felt state of being. Sometimes words fall out of favor. And when they do, we may suffer the loss of a degree of emotional nuance. I champion this word for its modern nuance. It was kinda snarky. Can we slow down a bit? My point is that words matter. The words you use during a critical moment are important.
The Problem of Contempt in Relationships
The more words you have to describe your emotions, the more specificity and nuance you can bring to an interaction with your spouse. Contempt in Relationships as Metaphysical Voodoo Dr. Contempt is incredibly toxic. It takes a heavy emotional, psychological, and even physical toll on the recipient.
Luckily, most contemptuous behavior in a marriage can be impacted in therapy. Julie Gottman reminds us that couples must recognize how profoundly damaging contempt is, and make an ongoing conscious effort to reverse contempt by developing a Culture of Appreciation: Contempt severs us from our pack. It leads us to cut ourselves off from others, pull inwards, and end up alone.
Giving appreciation is one of the most powerful ways to connect with those around us. After all, we love to hear good things about ourselves and to be seen for the good we do in the world. Appreciation draws us closer to those who appreciate us, and in turn, when we give appreciation, we draw ourselves closer to those we love. They have wanted change for a long time.
Now they have given up.
Marriage Saver: Talking About Resentment
The Problem of Contempt The problem of contempt is understood very differently in the two evidence-based models. Couples do need to shift into Positive Sentiment Override. And a Culture of Appreciation is also an essential healing balm to the emotional disease of contempt. However, I see the Gottman Method as privileging a more intellectual top-down approach to the problem, making an argument primarily grounded in self-interest. While EFT offers a more bottom-up emotionally corrective approach grounded in processing the underlying attachment injury which fuels the contempt in the first place.
Walter Lowe, taught me something I will never forget. No one model will work every time. Perhaps you feel unheard, dismissed or disrespected by your spouse, but are resistant to share your feelings because of a fear of causing a fight. Perhaps you have tried to communicate verbally, behaviorally, or passive-aggressively not recommendedwith little to show for it. Even though you may feel frustrated that your efforts at communication have failed, be mindful that the hurt feelings do not dissipate without the opportunity for emotionally safe conversation.
Most importantly, the failure to address feelings of hurt, anger, or relationship neglect increases the potential for resentment to emerge in the relationship. Resentment develops when you repeatedly feel unheard, dismissed or feel that a spouse puts other interests ahead of you and the marriage.
Resentment grows gradually over time due to repeated instances of feeling dismissed, undervalued, and invalidated.
The Problem of Contempt in Relationships: Pouring Acid on Love
It feeds off of avoidance, so partners who refuse to address directly the issue of growing resentment are at much greater risk of losing their intimate connection and severely damaging the relationship. Because of the systemic nature of relationships, the origin of resentment can be difficult to pinpoint, with partners often blaming the other for the existence of any negativity between them.
Mutual finger-pointing and blame can instill further distance and curtail any hopes of reconnection.
When resentment exists in a marriage, the only way to heal is to face it directly. This survival strategy will backfire as it only serves to create more distance between partners and fails to give a possibly ignorant partner the opportunity to rectify the hurt feelings.
To diminish resentment, the hurt spouse must choose communication over choosing to ignore, and the other partner must be open to his or her feedback. Facing feelings of resentment directly requires emotional courage, vulnerability, and respectful speaking and listening skills. I think you may feel annoyed to have to keep hearing about it, but this issue is important to me.
I am worried about continuing to feel so distant from you and what it means for our relationship. Can we please find a time to talk more about this? Additionally, it focuses on why it is important to discuss this issue—to reestablish connection and to diminish resentment. The request to schedule a time for the conversation gives both partners an opportunity to prepare and approach the discussion with a clear head, and it avoids making the approached partner feel blindsided or bombarded.
Or maybe you just feel guilty, and your instinctual self-protective response is to deny, diminish, or counterattack. Listen with the knowledge that you too will have a chance to share your thoughts and feelings.