Contempt is verbal abuse that indicates our partner is inferior to us.
Earlier this week we talked about the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. This is the term for the four toxic behaviors that often lead to divorce. While criticism attacks our partner’s character, (that article can be found here: https://agapecatholicministries.info/family-life/criticism-the-first-horseman/) contempt is even more serious. Contempt shows our partner than we think of them as inferior to us.
Contempt: What’s wrong with you!
Rolling our eyes, calling our spouse names, or belittling them is contemptuous. For example, a husband may be upset that his wife forgot to remind him about a weekend event. He can address it in one of two ways. “How could you forget about this! Are you too stupid to remember?” Or he can say, “I’m sorry, but I’m not sure how to plan for this now. Is everything okay?”
Contempt is not a silent killer. It’s a loud assassin. Contempt displays extremely negative thinking about our spouse and who they are as a person. Even worse, it shows that we think we’re better than them and blames issues in our lives on them. We cannot cultivate trust in our marriage if we communicate with contempt.
Antidote: Concern and Respect.
Our attitude towards our spouse should always be respectful. We should always strive to assume the best of our partner. If we are predisposed to think our husband or wife is trying to hurt us or screw things up, we’re going to believe it! We see what we look for.
Look for opportunities to be concerned and respectful of your spouse. If your partner forgets something or messes up, wonder what happened in their day to throw them off. Maybe it was nothing and we should just give them the grace of understanding. But maybe it was something we should support them through.
This is the person you’ve given your heart and body to. They’re not trying to hurt you. You should never try to hurt them.