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How to Kick Contempt to the Curb

When I looked back to the early years of our marriage, and remembered how unhappy I was, I used to blame my husband 100%.

But I don’t blame him now.

Now, when I look back, I see clearly (and shamefully) how I held myself above him.  I viewed him as lesser than me, and allowed my self-righteous opinions of him to fill me with contempt.

I believed I was superior in so many ways…. 

  I was raised far better.

  I was much holier in the way I practiced our religion.

  I was a much better parent to our children. 

  I took better care of my body than he did.

And on and on and on…UHG!!!

I was quite the martyr, -willing to bear the cross of a bad marriage, for the sake of my children.

I would think, “Look at me! I am the strong and noble one, so patient and tolerant and selfless in denying my own happiness, -even if it means staying with someone unworthy of me.” 

What a bunch of garbage! 

I was so wrong, -about him, -about me,- all of it.

I hate thinking back to that me, that I used to be.

And boy am I grateful (and lucky) that this amazing man stuck with me!

Contempt, according to the Googles, is a pattern of attitudes and behaviour, disgust, resentment and anger, towards an individual.

 *I would also add that contempt is one clear indication, that your marriage is heading for divorce.

Dr. John Gottman, includes contempt as one of the four horsemen of the pitfalls in marriage, the other three being criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling. 

Contempt poisons the well of sweetness that once existed.

When we notice and focus on our partner’s flaws, those tiny annoyances grow to cloud our vision and our contempt for them grows.  The more we feed those toxic thoughts, petty annoyances take center stage in our marriage, and we entirely forget our spouse’s positive qualities.

Think they don’t know how you feel?  Guess again.

You’re not fooling anyone.

Contempt for your spouse causes a lack of trust and safety. 

That distrust builds tall, thick walls of defensiveness and disconnection and It chokes and strangles any tender feelings of love we may have had.

If this sounds like you, here are some tips to help you end this toxic thinking.

First, get real with yourself by adding three simple words, “JUST LIKE ME.” to the end of these sentences in your brain:  

   “He has some bad habits, JUST LIKE ME.”

   “He can be so annoying, JUST LIKE ME.”

   “He could do so much better, JUST LIKE ME.”

Whenever we’re tempted to criticize, turning the finger around and pointing it back at ourselves, and looking closely at our own faults, creates humility and compassion for the imperfections of others.

Second, see your partner deeply. 

Look upon their heart.  Who are they at their core? How does their mother see them?  How does God see them? Beneath the flaws, who is that inner being that we fell so deeply in love with?

Asking our Father in Heaven to help us see them clearly, will open our hearts, minds, and eyes, to see the good.

Contempt feels awful!  When we have thoughts that create feelings of contempt, we are the ones who have to feel it, and the actions we take from that feeling, are never loving or kind.

Commit today to stop rolling your eyes.

Be deliberate in searching for your spouse’s good qualities,- they’re there.

This one change can create a great shift, that can really bless your marriage. I want that for you.

Much love, from one who knows.