From the honeymoon stage to the “real life” stages of marriage, couples must adjust to life sharing and interacting with each other on a daily basis. While all relationships come with a learning process, there are certain behaviors in which spouses can display that can build up contempt. These types of behaviors can create a negative pattern for the couple and further isolate their bond. Read on to find out more about the common behaviors that breed contempt in marriage.
1. Insufficient Communication
One of the most common behaviors that breed contempt in marriage is . Poor communication can be a result of several issues, including a lack of willingness to engage in meaningful conversations, an unwillingness to listen to one another’s perspectives, or simply a lack of time devoted to connecting. All of these are sources of tension and can put a strain on a previously-strong relationship.
Here are a few ways in which poor communication can lead to contempt:
- One partner feeling unheard.
- Miscommunication resulting in hurt feelings and misunderstandings.
- Each partner making assumptions and expectations of one another that aren’t clearly communicated.
- Either partner taking frustration with their own issues out on the other.
It’s important to take time out of every day to communicate with your partner, whether it’s to share positive updates or to talk about difficult issues. Establishing a habit of open dialogue and honest communication can help keep contempt at bay by creating an environment in which each partner is heard, respected, and loved.
Here are a few ways to ensure you’re engaging in healthy communication with your partner:
- Focus on mutual understanding and empathy.
- Keep your conversations positive and lighthearted.
- Listen to what your partner has to say without judgement.
- Be patient when talking about difficult topics.
- Communicate both wants and needs as clearly as possible.
Ultimately, open and honest communication is essential for a healthy marriage and can help to prevent the feelings of contempt that can arise from misunderstanding and lack of connection. Taking the time to ensure your partner feels heard and respected can help to form a secure foundation for your relationship and help you avoid the frustrations that arise from poor communication in marriage.
2. Complacency in Connection
Being complacent in a marriage is one of the most dangerous records to fall into. It can easily breed contempt and degrade relationships.
1. Forgetting the little things: You may have heard that small daily acts of kindness make up a majority of what counts in a loving marriage. Yet many people reach a point where they forget to do the little things that show their partner that they care. Showing your spouse you care is incredibly important, and over time, forgetting this can erode the love and respect in your relationship.
2. Taking each other for granted: Not only can couples forget the little things, but they can also become complacent and start taking each other for granted. When you become complacent in a marriage it’s easy to assume that your partner is always going to be there, and forget to appreciate them. This can often lead to couples getting bitter and frustrated with each other and ultimately deepening the chasm between them.
3. Not communicating: Complacency in marriage can lead couples to get so caught up in their everyday lives that they forget to take the time to really talk. Many people become so comfortable with one another that they forget to just enjoy each other’s company. Not communicating effectively can lead to misunderstandings and resentment, which eventually leads to contempt.
4. Focusing on faults: It’s natural to be frustrated with your partner from time to time, but when couples become complacent in their marriage it’s easy to start focusing on non-stop what they did wrong. This can lead to frequent arguments that are rooted in blame and criticism. Living this way isn’t healthy and can ultimately lead to deep-seated resentments.
5. Neglecting your marriage: Complacency can also lead to a complete neglect of your marriage. Every relationship needs attention and effort to stay healthy, and actively investing yourself in your marriage can help keep you both connected. When couples grow apart the love can start to diminish, and this can quickly lead to contempt.
In order to avoid the pitfalls of complacency and to maintain a healthy marriage, couples need to stay connected and remember to take the time to show each other appreciation and affection. Failing to do this can lead to contempt and eventually the breakdown of the relationship.
3. Resentment and Blame
Failed expectations in marriage can lead to resentment and, ultimately, blame. One partner may take responsibility for the shortcomings of the relationship and the other may take on a role of blame and resentment. Both of these perspectives can create resentment and lead to an uncontrollable cycle of contempt.
- One behaviour that contributes to this cycle is an unreasonable demand of perfection. Expecting perfect behaviour, perfect words, perfect responses or ‘perfect solutions’ only ends in disappointment and frustration. It also doesn’t leave room to acknowledge mistakes, show grace or apologize for wrong behaviours.
- Comparison is another behaviour that can cause resentment. Comparing your spouse to someone else’s spouse, comparing one of your previous relationships to your current one, or viewing your spouse through a lens of competition only serves to undermine trust and breeds resentment. When comparison becomes a habit, it can lead to demands on their performance – things they do or don’t do just aren’t good enough.
- Being quick to judge your partner’s motives and actions or raising a ‘sword of judgment’ over them is a common behaviour that leads to resentment. The act of judging and shaming your partner can make them feel defensive and create a disconnection. Even if you are trying to speak truth or speak in love, it can still be a source of resentment when your partner does not perceive your words in that way.
- Bringing up past wrongs not only breeds resentment but can make your partner feel they are being attacked by ‘ghosts from the past’. Refraining from ‘digging up’ your partner’s mistakes and leaving the past in the past can make your marriage stronger.
- Constantly criticising your partner is another common behaviour that breeds resentment. The goal of criticism is not to belittle. Instead, it is meant to be constructive and nurture growth. When it comes to improving, focus on the behaviour itself without attacking your partner’s character.
By becoming aware of these behaviours, each partner can focus on responding in a more appropriate way and recognize when either of these resentments are starting to surface. Working through these behaviours and committing to a healthier response can help a marriage thrive.
4. Avoiding Conflict and Compromise
1. Seeking Assurances and Seeking to Influence: When in a conflictual situation, it is natural to look for assurance from a partner. But in marriage, seeking too much assurance and constantly trying to influence the partner can lead to frustration and resentment. This behavior can be discouraging for the partner and can create a power imbalance. The words we use to assure the partner often lack sincerity and can put the partner in the position of an inferior.
2. Refusal to Acknowledge Fault and Laughing Off Mistakes: Refusing to acknowledge our mistakes or take responsibility for them can create a sense of mistrust and resentment between partners. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways in a marriage, such as laughing off our partner’s serious issues, refusing to take accountability for mistakes, or simply disregarding the feelings of the partner. This behavior can lead to a sense of entitlement and can be disrespectful.
3. Making Comparisons to the Partner’s Past: Making comparisons to a partner’s past can undermine their confidence and create a sense of insecurity. This type of behavior can cause the partner to feel as if their experiences are being belittled, thus leading to resentment and a disconnect between partners. It can also lead to the partner having unrealistic expectations of themselves, their spouse, and the marriage.
4. Assuming Unconditional Love: Not recognizing that love must be earned in a relationship can lead to too much trust in a partner. This can be detrimental to a marriage as it leaves one partner feeling taken for granted or overlooked. This can create a feeling of neglect in the relationship and can result in the partner feeling undervalued and unappreciated.
5. Playing the Blame Game: It is all too easy to blame one’s partner for a problem in the marriage instead of looking for a solution. This blame game can lead to negative feelings and resentment that can poison a marriage. Instead, couples should take the time to discuss the issue and look for a solution that is beneficial for both partners.
5. Unmet Expectations
It’s common for spouses to have in a marriage. Too often, these expectations stem from unrealistic dreams of what the partnership should be like or from unrealistic expectations of one another. The result is believable complaints that linger and have an accumulative effect which breeds contempt in marriages.
- One partner may have expectations of the other to provide emotional support and connection while the other may not comprehend the importance of communication.
- One spouse may want more family time, while the other is happily swimming to reach their professional goals, overlooking the desires of their partner.
- One partner may want more sex while the other may have no time or interest.
- One partner may feel emotionally neglected and the other may not even be aware of it.
All of these issues can lead to collateral damage that exceeds the initial . It can lead to a lingering resentment, negative attitudes, persistent arguments, and a unintentionally damaged relationship.
Identifying when they occur and addressing them can help avoid these problems. Open and honest communication is paramount. Outlining your expectations to each other and attempting to reach a mutual alignment can help with avoiding many of the problems that come from and avoid allowing contempt to slowly drift into your marriage.
6. Lack of Respect and Appreciation
1. The Silent Treatment
When one partner withdraws from a conversation or emotionally shuts down, it can be a form of disrespect. It can be a way of expressing contempt by ignoring the partner’s feelings. It is even worse when it becomes an established pattern.
2. Refusal to Compromise
When one partner consistently refuses to compromise or to co-operate in making decisions, it can quickly lead to contempt toward the partner who won’t make any effort to reach an understanding.
3. Taking the Other Person for Granted
When one partner acts as if the other partner’s needs or wishes aren’t important, it can be very damaging. It sends the message that the relationship isn’t a priority, that the partner’s feelings are unimportant.
4. Nagging and Criticism
There is no more effective way to destroy connection than by being constantly nit-picky and critical. It quickly erodes love and respect toward one’s partner.
5. Lack of Attention
One of the most common reasons for contempt is a lack of quality time spent together. A couple might engage in activities together, but if there isn’t really an effort to connect with each other, it can lead to an attitude of contempt.
6. Disregarding Common Courtesy
Everyone has certain expectations of common courtesy, which can be challenged when a partner does not follow the same expectations. For example, if one partner expects a simple “Thanks” for a favor, but the other partner continues to take the favor for granted, it can erode respect and lead to contempt.
7. Opportunity Loss and Resource Allocation Neglect
One of the most common behaviors that breed contempt in marriage is . When partners make decisions without considering how they will affect the other person, marriage bitterness and resentment can take root.
can be summed up as one partner making decisions that only consider their own needs and which do not take into consideration the needs of their partner. This type of decision-making ignores the fact that marriage requires both partners to be in harmony and equality.
For instance, if one partner continuously takes on extra jobs or activities that take away from quality time with their spouse, or if one partner consistently spends a large portion of the family income on themselves without factoring in joint needs or shared expenses, this can lead to feelings of contempt or disrespect.
- Dishonesty – keeping secrets from one another or lying about activities or expenses
- Defensiveness – shutting down communication and refusing to take ownership of mistakes
- Recklessness – making selfish decisions about big or small matters without considering the consequences
These behaviors can lead to a breakdown in communication and trust, and can eventually lead to resentment or anger. Partners need to be aware of the impact their decisions have on the overall health of their marriage.
The only way to avoid the damaging effects of is for couples to talk openly and honestly about their needs and to make decisions that are mutually beneficial. Over time, couples can create a climate that breeds respect and trust instead of contempt.
8. Creating Total Dependence
1. Isolating You From Your Social Network
It’s natural to speak to family members, friends and colleagues about your relationship, but some spouses go to extremes to prevent it. They might monitor calls and messages, dictate who you are and aren’t allowed to communicate with and even discourage you from having any relationships without them. This tactic slowly erodes the support you’re supposed to have from the people who care about you.
2. Fostering Dependence on Your Spouse
If your spouse starts to believe that you are solely dependent on them for everything, and will have nothing without them, it’s a clear sign of spiritual and emotional abuse. They might use this belief as a way to control you, even going so far as to prevent you from forming or maintaining any meaningful connections outside your marriage.
3. Promising Financial Support and Withholding it
One way a controlling, manipulative spouse might assume the role of a financial power player is to offer financial support when it might be needed, like covering bills and taking care of other pressing needs, and then withhold the money when their partner does something they disagree with.
4. Remaining Silent when You Speak
Communication is an important part of any marriage, but if your partner refuses to talk and listen to you about anything that matters, it can be a sign of contempt. It might be their way of trying to get you to back down and adhere to their wishes without engaging in any dialogue.
5. Alienating You From Friends and Family
If your spouse makes it difficult or impossible for you to see your family members or close friends, it’s another example of alienating behaviors that can lead to contempt in the marriage. Your spouse might do this by not allowing you to leave the house, or only allowing you to leave under their supervision.
9. Establishing Effective Habits for a Lasting Marriage
1. Not Appreciating Your Partner: Expressing appreciation for your spouse’s unique qualities—whether it be their loyalty, sense of humor, or intelligence—can help strengthen your relationship. Show your gratitude for their hard work, effort, and love. When partners don’t acknowledge or appreciate each other, it can often lead to feelings of resentment and contempt.
2. Blaming Your Partner: It’s easy to blame your partner for a problem, but it doesn’t help the relationship. Instead of speaking in ‘you’ statements, use ‘I’ statements to make your point. The conversation will be more open and less accusatory. Instead of saying, “You never listen to me,” try to express your feelings in a way that won’t be as hurtful and creates an avenue for discussion.
3. Refusing to Compromise: Compromise and negotiation are always necessary in a relationship. No two people will always agree on everything, and when couples refuse to find a middle ground, it can lead to hostility and resentment. Put your ego and pride aside, and focus on working together to find a peaceful resolution.
4. Not Expressing Appreciation and Affection: Regular expression of love and appreciation is fundamental to a strong relationship. You can show appreciation in speech, gestures or actions. Anything that says “I love you” without having to say it can help to strengthen your marriage.
5. Not Resolving Conflicts: If an argument or fight goes unresolved, it can create a feeling of disgust and resentment. No matter how difficult it is, make sure to stay calm and rational, and speak out loud and clear. Couples should have clear rules and processes for resolving conflicts, and they should ensure that all arguments and issues are treated with open mindedness and respect.
6. Not Doing Any Activities Together: Doing activities together helps to strengthen the bond between couples. From spring cleaning to engaging in mutual hobbies, it helps couples to have fun, relax, and enjoy each other’s company while learning more about themselves. Taking a break from the everyday grind and just enjoying each other’s company can help bring back the spark in any relationship.
In conclusion, it is important to realize that while it can be easy to fall into the habit of engaging in common behaviors that breed contempt in marriage, if couples take the time to recognize them and be intentional about avoiding them, they can protect their relationships from the damaging effects of contempt. With the help of a therapist or couples’ counselor, couples can learn how to communicate more effectively and repair issues that may have caused contempt.