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The #1 Secret To Avoiding Contempt In Relationships

Want to know how to avoid contempt in a relationship?
Or avoid contempt in a marriage?
Particularly when it comes to de-escalating fights?

In my last article (How To Diffuse An Argument ...Like Happy Couples Do), I showed a strange way happy couples naturally tend to handle fights.

They tend to pay attention to the point brought up by their partner, bring the argument to a close quickly (often using diversionary tactics) …and then secretly resolve to address the points brought up by their partner.

The issue they were then fighting about becomes resolved. This tactic involves a crucial point that unhappy couples often get wrong. Happy couples never “go for broke” in an argument …while unhappy couples often do.

And this is KEY to avoiding the build up of contempt in relationships, which is an absolute killer to the long-term viablility of any relationship.

The “Go For Broke” Mentality

Studies have shown that couples who have a happy relationship tend to maintain a high “positive” to “negative” comment ratio even when they are fighting. In other words, they soften any negative comments they make with a healthy dose of positive comments.

When it comes to unhappy couples though, the contrast couldn’t be more different. Unhappy couples only tend to manage a ratio of about one “positive” comment for every “negative” comment they make (the average figure is 0.8 positive comments to every one negative comment).

So how is it that happy couples can maintain such a high ratio even during a fight? The secret is in their mentality. Happy couples don’t “go for broke” during an argument. They never fall into the fatal mistake of trying to wound the other person just because of how angry they are in the moment. Unhappy couples do this all the time …resulting in contempt for one another causing long-term damage to the relationship in the process.

How does this work in practice?

Let’s take an example to illustrate this better.

Let’s take an example of where the woman in the relationship is annoyed because the man won’t wash up after himself when he has eaten. Here is how this type of argument might play out in both a happy couple and an unhappy couple type scenario:

  • Happy Couple: The woman might say “I know how hard you work all day, and I appreciate it, but it annoys me when you leave your dish and cutlery in the sink after dinner because it makes more work for me when the food drys on them. Can you wash them after eating?”
  • Unhappy Couple: The woman might say “You never help me with anything. Everytime I go to the sink, you’ve thrown your dish and cutlery in there and left them to me. What’s wrong with you?”

As you can see, the woman in the happy couple uses positive comments to soften the blow of the argument she is bringing up with the man.

The woman in the unhappy couple however uses none. Here, the woman in the unhappy couple has “gone for broke” by setting out on the attack from the beginning with the comment “You never help me with anything” and then sets out to wound the man by saying there is something “wrong” with him. This type of a scenario can then very easily escalate.

The woman in the happy couple avoids going for broke …and hence this type of scenario is much more likely to play out well with no long-term negative damage done.

How To Implement This…

“Going for broke” is a trap unhappy couples fall into. Before they realise what’s happened, they’ve fallen into it …and aggravated their partner in the process (who is likely to respond back in the same manner).

Here’s how to avoid falling into this trap…

If you want to have a happy relationship, the next time you have an argument with your partner, make sure to insert positive comments into the interaction. The easiest way to do this right from the beginning. If you know you are going to start an argument about something with your partner, start off with one, two or even three positive comments.

Not only are these likely to keep your partner calm about the point you are bringing up with him, but they are also likely to keep you calm too …and avoid the “go for broke” mentality. 


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