2nd Horseman | 4 Horsemen Series (Part 2) | Shalini

All relationships have conflict. It is what makes up relationships, but it is also something that can destroy them. No two people are the same therefore they will not look at any situation the same way the conflict. How people manage these conflicts decides how good or bad the relationship is. It will also decide if it will be a successful relationship or not. For this purpose, Gottman proposed the theory of the 4 horsemen. Today I will be discussing horseman no 2 Contempt and how to try and manage it to have a healthy relationship.

We first need to understand what it is. Contempt is attacking a sense of self with an intent to insult or abuse. Contempt is the feeling that a person is worthless or beneath consideration. It is a pattern of attitude and behaviour towards an individual or a group (it can be towards ideology too) which has the characteristics of disgust and anger. This could be due to preconceived notions about things or people that we grew up with. We generally think that we do not have this trait in us, but trust me we have all shown contempt for people or things at various stages in our life.

We first need to acknowledge the fact that we have been there. It shows up in statements that come from a position of superiority. Sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mockery, hostile humour is some of the examples of contempt. I am sure that we have done some of them if not all at some time in our life.

Once we acknowledge the fact that we feel contempt we have to find the antidote for it. According to me, the best way to deal with it is to learn to appreciate each other a little more. At times it might even be difficult but remember that no two people are the same, sometimes they are not even similar, but everyone is unique in their special way. The person you are feeling contempt for might be feeling similarly about you too. So, try to look for the positives in the other person.

Trust me they have some good points even though you are unable to see them at the given point. Try to find the silver lining to the cloud. It is there we just have to open up ourselves to see it. It is believed that contempt is the single greatest predictor for divorce, so if you want your relationship to be a lasting one you have to find your silver lining.

So how can we negate any feeling of contempt?  You should regularly express appreciation, gratitude, affection, and respect for your partner (or the person you are feeling contempt for), you’ll create a positive perspective in your relationship this way that will act as a buffer for negative feelings. The more positive you feel, the less likely that you’ll feel or express contempt. Talk to each other and express your feelings instead of shutting down and bottling up your thoughts.

Talking and listening to each other and trying to understand others thoughts can be a good way to not only save your relationship but also to strengthen it. Appreciate the things that you think are good and talk about the ones you are contemptuous about. Be open to what the other person is saying and try to see how you both can complement each other. Start your statements on a positive note. Instead of saying that they have not done what they were supposed to do tell them that you know that they have been busy so they were unable to do what they should have and you would appreciate it if they would take time out to do it as you are also busy. So, make a respectful request and make your appreciation for the effort apparent in the statement.

So, talking to each other and appreciating each other’s efforts will ensure that contempt stays out of your relationship thus building a healthy one.



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