partner couple counselling

Are you holding your partner in Contempt? 

If you’re holding your partner in contempt your relationship may show the following characteristics:

  • High conflict
  • One-sided decision making and/or
  • Passive agreeableness

Consciously or sub-consciously holding your partner in contempt fosters toxicity and an unhealthy relationship. Contempt simply put means to disregard and includes feelings of worthlessness and no value of consideration for someone else. Gottman is a well-known psychologist that has produced substantial evidence on what we call the four horsemen. The four horsemen include: CONTEMPT, Defensiveness, Criticism and Stonewalling and are predictors of separation and conflict in a relationship.

Now you know the problem it’s important to be able to recognise and resolve! Recognising the problem is the first step in working towards a resolution.


Conflict in relationship can stem from a variety of factors, including internal and external. If contempt is present in your relationship, it is not surprising so is conflict and lots of it. Holding your partner in contempt can heavily reduce their self-esteem. As a partner your role is to be loving, caring, provide support and create a fulfilled, purposeful life together. Seeing your partner as worthless will lead to feelings of resentment and regret of being with them and may result in opposite actions of your role as a partner.

In your partners perspective if they know you do not value them as a person and individual, it will lead to lowered self-confidence and tarnish their own self-worth and self-esteem. A low self-esteem can lead towards social withdrawal, loss of enjoyment in previously engaged activities, low mood and many more. This will lead to your partner wanting to do less, including spending time with you. It is only natural if we feel we are not receiving what we need from someone, we may become frustrated, angry and intolerable towards them. The perfect recipe for conflict!

Making all the decisions

Holding your partner in contempt often means we may disregard how they feel towards a situation, whether it be a meal, an event, or a simple question. Putting your partner beneath consideration, whether you are aware or not. If you are unaware you are doing this, a good way to reflect if this is you, is to ask, ‘do I make all the decisions in the relationship’? This is a problem as valuing others means respecting autonomy. There right to choose what they want to do. If you are always the key decision maker, your partner may feel less in a relationship and more in a dictatorship.


Passive agreeableness

Being passive may mean not getting what we want or even what you need. If your parent is always in agreeance with you, there may be a chance they are not feeling fulfilled within the relationship with wants and/or needs.  If you are holding your partner in contempt, chances are they feel uncomfortable to be assertive in communicating these without feeling they will be ridiculed, dismissed and rejected. Your partner then may be agreeing with you out of obligations and fear. If your partner always agrees with you, there may be a problem with them not thinking they deserve a choice. These choices may include emotional, physical and financial. Holding your partner in contempt and resulting in passive agreeableness may only be the start of the growing strained relationship.


How to do I reduce contempt towards my partner?

If your relationship includes the above characteristics and you feel you may not be fulfilling your role as a partner, it is important to ask yourself, are you holding your partner in contempt? If your answer is yes, here are some simple ways to start to work towards resolving the problem:

  • Compliments to help increase self-esteem, worthiness and love
  • Gifts to show appreciation
  • Respect their decisions/choices, asking your partner what they want to do, where they want to go etc.
  • Assertive communication, not forcing your ideas or projecting. Your partner has a mind of their own and they should be comfortable to express it

Counselling may be beneficial is helping you towards understanding your relationship, your partner and even yourself!

Call to chat with someone from the Growth Psychology Consulting team - 1300 659 067

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