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Impending Divorce and the Kiss of Death for Relationships

Posted on in Divorce

kiss of death, divorce, Illinois divorce attorneyDo you and your spouse argue over relatively trivial issues? If you have been together for longer than a month, the answer is probably yes. Married couples, of course, argue from time to time, and often over things that are probably not that important. Disagreement and arguments are not, however, necessarily signs that your marriage is in trouble, so long as you and your spouse continue to love and respect one another. Conversely, if the love and respect is being eroded and replaced with contempt, your relationship may be headed for divorce.

Psychologists John Gottman of the University of Washington and Robert Levenson of the University of California – Berkeley, collaborated on a 14-year behavioral study which used emotional reactions to predict divorce with an accuracy rate of 93 percent. The researchers identified the negative mix of behaviors, including anger, contempt, criticism, stonewalling, and defensiveness to be a harbinger of impending disaster for the marriage. In particular, Gottman noted, "Contempt is the kiss of death."

A subsequent study concurred with Gottman and Levenson’s conclusions. The second research team examined more than 370 couples over a 16 year period. As in the previous project, the team found that, "indeed, destructive conflict behaviors (e.g., criticism, yelling) predicted increased divorce."

Contempt is a complex emotion mixing anger and disgust, which can cause individuals to start seeing their spouse as less than an equal. It often rises to concerning levels and can be far more poisonous to a relationship that simple frustration or complaining. While frustration is completely normal in a marriage or long-term relationship, contempt begins driving an emotional wedge between the partners. Often, one partner will begin to feel superior to his or spouse, and may start to truly believe the spouse could never live up to his or her expectations. Over time, this typically results in escalating tension and stress, which can be the basis for more destructive outbursts or arguments.

If you live in Illinois and feelings of contempt have overwhelmed your marriage, you are not alone. Contact an experienced Lombard family law attorney today to explore your legal options. The attorneys at A. Traub & Associates welcome the opportunity to provide you with the legal representation you deserve throughout every step of the divorce process.


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