Couples more likely to divorce if they feel contempt for each other, says relationship expert

Sarcasm and eye-rolling could mean your relationship is in trouble

Sarah Young
Monday 27 November 2017 12:28 GMT
(Getty Images/iStockphoto
(Getty Images/iStockphoto (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Every relationship has its ups and downs but with 42 per cent of marriages ending in divorce, experts are looking into reasons as to why so many of us are failing at them.

And, according to one psychology professor, it’s all down to feelings of contempt.

Dr John Gottman, a man who is said to be able to predict divorce with over 90 per cent accuracy, has revealed that making a partner feel despised or worthless is the number one sign a marriage could be coming to an end.

Alongside criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling, Gottman says contempt is the most destructive of ‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ and can make itself known in a number of insolent ways.

These include disrespecting and mocking a partner with sarcasm, hostile humour, name-calling and body language such as eye-rolling and sneering.

“When contempt begins to overwhelm your relationship you tend to forget entirely your partner’s positive qualities, at least while you’re feeling upset,” Gottman writes in his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail.

“You can’t remember a single positive quality or act. This immediate decay of admiration is an important reason why contempt ought to be banned from marital interactions.”

Luckily though, the professor says there are ways to reverse a pattern of contempt in your relationship before it’s too late.

Here he says the answer lies in re-building fondness and admiration for each other by talking about happy events of the past, remembering how you fell in love and how funny and attractive you found one another when you first met.

By doing so, Gottman says that the pain and negative feelings that have accumulated over the years should disperse to reveal an ember of friendship, appreciation and respect in the relationship.

He also suggests that if you and your partner need a little extra help, you may benefit from couples counselling.

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