According to author and psychologist Dr. John Gottman, one particular communication pattern sends more couples to divorce courts in Michigan and around the country than any other. That is contempt.
Gottman has identified four toxic communication behaviors that predict a couple will divorce. These behaviors are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. Of those, contempt is the most damaging to relationships because it makes one spouse feel disrespected and undervalued. According to Gottman, people treat their partners with contempt when they engage in hurtful verbal communications like sarcasm, mocking or mimicking. They also show contempt when they use negative body language like smirking, sneering and eye-rolling. Over time, this kind of behavior erodes respect and destroys the couple’s bond with each other.
Luckily, contempt only predicts divorce if it goes unchecked. Couples who learn to eliminate contempt and other destructive communication behaviors can rebuild their bond. Gottman suggests that couples begin talking about happy events in their past, such as when they met, to begin reconnecting. Spouses can also re-establish their bond by making a conscious effort to focus on each other’s positive traits and actions.
Unfortunately, not all relationships can be salvaged. Michigan residents considering divorce may find it helpful to contact a family law attorney as soon as possible. An attorney could review the specifics of the case and explain all legal options available. When it is time to negotiate a divorce settlement, an attorney could help obtain favorable outcomes on property division, child custody, child support, alimony, and other applicable issues.
Source: Good Men Project, “This One Thing is the Biggest Predictor of Divorce“, Oct. 11, 2017