If you’re rolling your eyes at your partner, and you do that regularly, we already know you’re going to divorce. What?!?
Dr. John Gottman and University of California, Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson found that this single behavior is so powerful that they can use it—along with other negative behaviors such as repetitive criticism, sarcasm, and stonewalling—to predict divorce with 93% accuracy.
The striking 93% figure comes from a 14-year study of 79 couples living across the American Midwest (21 of whom divorced during the study period) published in 2002.
A Disgust Response
Treating your spouse (and anyone else, for that matter) with disrespect, and mocking them with sarcasm are forms of contempt. So are hostile humor, name-calling, mimicking, and/or body language such as eye-rolling and silent treatments.
It’s virtually impossible to start resolving any problem when your partner is getting the message that you’re disgusted with them.
“Contempt,” says Gottman, “is the kiss of death.” Contempt is usually fueled by long-simmering negative thoughts about the partner, in the form of an attack from a position of relative superiority. Inevitably, contempt leads to more conflict rather than to reconciliation.
The Antidote to Contempt
If you’ve noticed yourself exhibiting this type of behavior, don’t despair—it doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. You can start turning thing around for the better pretty quickly.
For starters consciously start acting like a true friend. Here’s what you can do:
- Make them feel special with the little things. And, by far the best way to do so is daily and in small doses.
- Focus on making them feel good about themself often. This one is so powerful! Here are 11 simple ways you can start doing so today
- Listen to understand, not to reply. Here’s how you can do that and become a great listener, starting today.
- Avoid unsolicited advice.
- Make sure to connect the dots frequently.
- Focus on what’s working and let the rest go.
- Bring more laughter into your relationship.
- Avoid using these toxic phrases. You’ve probably not been aware of this but they are causing your spouse to subconsciously repeat a negative behavior.
- When you have a difficult conversation ahead, approach your partner in a non-threatening way.
It seems obvious to the point of being ridiculous: people who are happily married like each other.
So show that to your spouse!