The second horsemen that Gottman describes is, contempt. This is when a partner has a sense of superiority over their spouse. Contempt shows up as eye rolling, sneering, cynicism, mockery, and hostile humor (Gottman & Silver 2018). Whichever form contempt shows up as, it is poisonous to any relationship, because it communicates disgust. When a partner is feeling as though their spouse is disguised with them it becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile. Gottman and Silver explains, “Contempt is fueled by long-simmering negative thoughts about the partner” (2018).
There are two antidotes to contempt. First is to use complaints, like mentioned above. The other and more long term and powerful antidote is to foster a culture of fondness and admiration. This can be done by intentionally offering daily gestures of appreciation, love, kindness and support. Six-second kisses, a stress reducing conversation, and spending time verbalizing appreciation can also build fondness and admiration in a marriage (Gottman & Silver, 2018). As we build fondness in a relationship we remember that our spouse is worth being treated with respect and kindness.
Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2018). The seven principles for making marriage work: A practical guide from the international bestselling relationship expert. Orion Spring.