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This is the single worst sign that your relationship is doomed: experts

Fighting couple
Fighting couple

If your relationship is galloping toward Splitsville then it may be time to get off your high horse.

Couples coach Debbie Rivers told the Daily Mail that contempt is “the biggest predictor that you are headed for a breakup or a divorce.”

Contempt is characterized by the feeling that some person is inferior, and presents as name-calling, a feeling of superiority, insults, eye-rolling, or jokes at your partner’s expense.

Contempt is the biggest relationship killer, according to experts. Getty Images
Contempt is the biggest relationship killer, according to experts. Getty Images

“It is feeling like they are beneath you — an air of superiority. It’s hard to solve a problem if your partner gets the idea/message that you are disgusted with them,” the Perth, Australia-based expert explained.

“It tends to happen when there are long-term resentments and unresolved issues in a relationship. It is those continual negative thoughts about your partner,” she added.

Rivers’ advice echoes one of The Gottman Institute’s “Four Horsemen (of the Marriage Apocalypse)” in relationships. The acclaimed relationship research institute said that contempt is “the most destructive negative behavior in relationships.”

“Contempt is fueled by long-simmering negative thoughts about one’s partner, and it arises in the form of an attack on someone’s sense of self. Inevitably, contempt leads to more conflict—particularly dangerous and destructive forms of conflict — rather than to reconciliation,” The Gottman Institute explained in a blog post about the topic.

Couples who want to stick together could practice doing small positive things for each other daily. NDABCREATIVITY – stock.adobe.com
Couples who want to stick together could practice doing small positive things for each other daily. NDABCREATIVITY – stock.adobe.com

“It’s virtually impossible to resolve a problem when your partner is getting the message that you’re disgusted with them and that you’re condescending and acting as their superior,” according to Drs. John and Julie Gottman.

The Gottman Institute gave an example of one unhealthy perspective from a partner who is more punctual, feeling and displaying contempt towards their partner who struggles with lateness:

“Look, I learned how to tell time when I was five years old. When are you ever gonna learn?”

Experts agree that contempt is a sign of impending doom. Gorodenkoff – stock.adobe.com
Experts agree that contempt is a sign of impending doom. Gorodenkoff – stock.adobe.com

A better way to communicate their message would go something like this:

“It’s very important to me to be on time. Can you please help me with that?”

The cure for contempt is to “build a culture of fondness and admiration for each other,” the Gottman Institute explained.

This is a practice that includes intentionally working to do small positive things for your partner daily.