Marriage is between two people who love and respect each other as equal partners, right? Or, at least it is supposed to be.
It’s natural for problems to arise—arguments and disagreements about just about anything you can imagine. How to raise kids, how to cook certain meals, the proper way to clean and organize the house, financial issues, or other differences are things couples may fight about. But, those aren’t usually deal breakers for a marriage. You fight; you come to an agreement, apologize and make up. You understand each other better, and your relationship is stronger as a result.
So what is it that can ruin your marriage?
“Contempt, a virulent mix of anger and disgust, is far more toxic than simple frustration or negativity. It involves seeing your partner as beneath you, rather than as an equal,” states an article on marriage.
Why is contempt a deal breaker?
“It comes down to a superiority complex. Feeling smarter than, better than, or more sensitive than your significant other means you’re not only less likely see his or her opinions as valid, but, more importantly, you’re far less willing to try to put yourself in his or her shoes to try to see a situation from his or her perspective,” the article continues.
Contempt means you not only hold anger against your spouse, but you also think you are better than him or her; your spouse is less knowledgeable, skilled, hard-working, attractive, etc. than you are.
If this is a problem you think you may have, try these things:
Learn and develop empathy
Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. How does the world look from her eyes? What does he think or feel? Is there more than one “right” way to accomplish a task? How does it make him or her feel when you berate them, talk down to them or put yourself on higher pedestal?
If you can work to see outside yourself, and try to have empathy for your spouse, you can make your marriage stronger and more compassionate.
Listen to understand
Disagreements happen. Don’t let a disagreement become an “I’m right; you’re wrong” situation. Listen to your spouse and understand his or her perspective.
There are at least two sides to every story, and each side is worth listening to. Your spouse has feelings, desires, emotions and thoughts. As a partner in a marriage, both spouses deserve respect from the other. This correlates closely with having empathy.
What made you love your spouse in the first place? Focus on that and let the list grow. Frustrations, annoyances and problems can often block our ability to see the good in our spouse and love him or her the way we should.
As you increase in real love and compassion for your spouse, the contempt and superiority you hold over them will diminish. Love can take work; it’s not just something that exists or doesn’t. If you want it, you have to nurture it and put in effort to make your love stronger.
Don’t let pride or anger destroy your marriage. We all have things we can work on and improve. If there is a big problem that needs fixing, discuss it in a loving way with your spouse. Work on it together. Never belittle your companion. Never make him or her feel like they are worth less than you. You are on the same team. Respect each other’s opinions, thoughts and feelings. Be there to lift each other up. Support one another. By dissolving contempt within yourself, or your relationship, you will make your marriage stronger and happier.