"What makes people happy, healthier and live longer is having good and close relationships."


When partners present for couples therapy they are generally way past the phase in their relationship when they felt deeply connected and their love for each other was almost unconditional. Somehow the warm glow and energy of the relationship seems to have died. Worse still, there is a new negative dynamic that has gradually snuck into their relationship described by Dr. John Gottman (leading research scientist on Marriage and Family), as ‘contempt’.  If you feel your relationship has sunk to this level, not all is lost.  There is probably still hope.

You and your partner just need to revive the flames and dynamic that gave your relationship such energy and warmth in the first couple of years. You may be able to remember that at first, your partner was amazing, talkative, generous and attractive. Now you often find yourself putting your partner down, attacking, blaming, or mocking him or her. You feel superior to your partner and you let him or her know it in different ways.

These unhealthy signs are not unusual in relationships of more than a couple of years. However, if this trend has gotten out of hand lately, it is time to reverse it.  If you are able to notice your negative behaviour and you feel some responsibility and possibly regret around this, then there is definitely some hope for you to rescue your relationship. To revive your relationship, there is a need to reintroduce respect, caring and good will. Naturally the same goes for your partner if he or she has been behaving contemptuously towards you.  To start the process of relationship recovery here are some things for you to start working on:

  • Appreciate and look for the good in your partner
  • Express your appreciation and gratitude regularly
  • Express your feelings and needs respectfully
  • Notice and stop yourself from making negative judgments and blaming your partner
  • Notice and stop yourself from being sarcastic, mocking, ridiculing your partner
  • Watch your negative body language especially your tone
  • Take responsibility for your negative behaviour and express your regret
  • Avoid phrases like “You always…”, “You never...”

Partners who use blaming phrases like “You always…”, “You never...” are looking to confirm their own long held negative views. When their partner is doing the opposite and the right thing, they don’t see it.

Remember partners in a healthy relationship have a solid friendship as their foundation. If you catch yourself behaving in a hurtful and contemptuous way towards your partner, ask yourself if you would have treated your friend in this way. If the answer is ‘no’ you know what to do. Be accountable for your contempt and apologise to your partner. If this all seems a little too hard on your own, come along with your partner and we will work on this together.