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Cutting out contempt can help stave off divorce

Many couples in Arizona have wondered what leads spouses to divorce. This question has been studied by marriage expert and writer Dr. John Gottman, among others. When Gottman examined marriages to determine why some last and others come to an end, he noted a few distinct problems in communication that can be dangerous.

Labeled the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," these communication patterns include criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. While all four pointed to higher likelihoods of divorce, contempt in particular appeared to be corrosive to a personal relationship. Because contemptuous communication often conveys disrespect, dismissal and a sense of superiority, it is deeply divisive and hurtful. The person subject to contemptuous remarks can feel valueless and either lash out or internalize the destructive messages. Whether contempt is expressed through name calling, eye rolling or other forms of hostile communication, it can fundamentally undermine the closeness of a marriage.

While contempt in communication can indicate the forthcoming end of a marriage, this damaging pattern can also be reversed. Solutions that can help spouses move away from contempt and rekindle their connection include conscious appreciation, admiration and love. This can mean coming together once again over shared memories. Couples could also make a clear decision to focus on positive attention rather than sinking further into a cycle of contempt and resentment.

However, for many people who have been through this cycle, it can be a healthier decision to divorce and practice these skills in their next relationship. A divorce lawyer can help people going through the end of a marriage achieve a fair settlement on matters such as property division, child custody and spousal support.

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