Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Building Friendship in Marriage: Conquering Contempt

Link: Jeffrey R. Holland Quote
 Building Friendship in Marriage: Conquering Contempt

“Companionship in marriage is prone to become commonplace and even dull. I know of no more certain way to keep it on a lofty and inspiring plane than for a man occasionally to reflect upon the fact that the helpmeet who stands at his side is a daughter of God, engaged with [God] in the great creative process of bringing to pass His eternal purposes. I know of no more effective way for a woman to keep ever radiant the love for her husband than for her to look for and emphasize the godly qualities that are a part of every son of our Father and that can be evoked when there is respect and admiration and encouragement. The very processes of such actions will cultivate a constantly rewarding appreciation for one another.” 
  - Elder Gordon B. Hinckley
  Marriage & Family Relations: Participant Study Guide, p. 24
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Link: Contempt
Last week, we discussed the need for building the friendship in your marriage and began building your awareness of Dr. John Gottman's "four horsemen of the apocalypse": criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. This week, I will share with you the antidote to the "horseman" of contempt, which, if you recall, is the horseman where one spouse holds the other spouse in low regard and disrespects them. It is also the horseman that Gottman and Silver discovered that the immune system of the person held in contempt is compromised and they often become sick (Gottman & Silver, 2015, p. 36).

 "Ninety-four percent of the time, couples who put a positive spin on their marriage's history and their partner's character are likely to have a happy future as well. When happy memories are distorted, it's a sign that the marriage needs help" (Gottman & Silver, 2015, p. 70).
The antidote for the person who is using the horseman of contempt is to consistently consider the qualities they admire in their spouse. They need to foster love and admiration for them. Maximize the positives and minimize the negatives. Doing these things will kill your desire to
disrespect and degrade your spouse (Gottman & Silver, 2015, p. 79).

How to foster love and admiration: 
  • Focus on noticing things that your spouse does that you admire. 
  • “Don’t expect immediate perfection—in him, in marriage, in the relationship . . . it takes time to grow into a whole new way of living” (Hafen, 2013, p. 73).
  • Look for things that you could sincerely compliment or express appreciation for about your spouse. Try to voice those compliments and gratitudes at least twice per day and watch your spouse blossom!
  • When giving a compliment, be specific, please. "You're so awesome!" is a good compliment, but it won't cut it on its own. For instance, what you might say to a person who is well organized is, "You're so good at making schedules and sticking to them! You're awesome!" Notice that, "You're awesome!" punctuates the compliment. It is not the compliment itself. The more specific you are with your compliments and expressions of appreciation, the more sincere it will sound.

Link: gratitude_thankyou.jpg

“Avoid ‘ceaseless pinpricking.’ Don’t be too critical of each other’s faults. Recognize that none of us is perfect. We all have a long way to go to become as Christlike as our leaders have urged us to become.

“ ‘Ceaseless pinpricking,’ as President Spencer W. Kimball called it, can deflate almost any marriage. … Generally each of us is painfully aware of our weaknesses, and we don’t need frequent reminders. Few people have ever changed for the better as a result of constant criticism or nagging. If we are not careful, some of what we offer as constructive criticism is actually destructive.”  
  - Elder Joe J. Christensen
Marriage and Family Relations Participant’s Study Guide, p. 19
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Become familiar with the intimate details of each other's lives. The tastes and worries of your spouse are always changing. It's great to keep up-to-date on all of those little details. Talk about things like:
  • likes and dislikes 
  • friends you have and why
  • personal triumphs and successes achieved together as a couple
  • healing from past injuries (mental, emotional, physical) 
  • dreams for the future
  • your passions 
  • your first date and your impressions of one another 
  • highlights from your life (personally or as a couple).  
  • (see this link for more topic ideas to discuss)
When discussing these things, focus on learning these things without judgment. This is a fact-finding mission only designed to help you feel closer to one another.


Link: Date-Night-Jar-Craft
Something that will boost your ability to nurture your friendship and courtship is to set aside a time at least once a week where you and your spouse can spend time together to talk and have fun together (Date night! Yahoo!). Not everybody can afford to go on expensive date nights, but you don't have to spend a lot of money, if any, to have good, quality time together. A couple of frugal ideas for dates that will allow you to talk and nurture your friendship is to go on a walk together, go to a quiet restaurant, or go shopping together. My husband and I like to do window shopping at furniture stores or home improvement stores once in a while for a date. We have discovered that it really helps us to talk about our dreams for the future and what we want our dream home to look like. We also don't have to pay a dime other than in gas and maybe a dessert to share.

For larger image, click this link: CBT Mood Log
If you or your spouse are having trouble overcoming the cycle of negative thinking, it is okay to seek the advice of a counselor. It would be especially helpful if you can find one that is well-versed in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a therapy that helps a person to recognize and isolate negative thoughts, recognize how those thoughts are distorted from reality, and how to challenge those thoughts with positive thoughts that are 100% true and show the negative thought for what it truly is--a lie. This therapy even has applications for those who suffer from depression and anxiety disorders. In fact, studies are showing CBT to be more effective than medication, psychotherapy, and both of these combined (Burns, 2006, p. 3). I have used this therapy myself when I was suffering from the negative thought cycle of depression and it is AMAZING!

So, if you are having extra trouble breaking your negative thought patterns about your spouse, I highly recommend that you go to a professional to teach you this technique or you can read about it in these two books which are by Dr. David D. Burns, M.D.: When Panic Attacks and Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Getting your thoughts on track will not only lead to a more satisfying relationship in your marriage but a more satisfying life as well.


Burns, D.D., M.D. (2006). When panic attacks. New York: Morgan Road Books.
Gottman, J. M., Ph.D., & Silver, N. (2015). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Harmony Books.

Hafen, B. C. (2013). Covenant marriage: Why marriage matters and how to make it last. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company. 


1 comment:

  1. I love this inspiring message for couples. Great blog, thank you!