On the way home from work you have every intention of greeting your partner with a friendly “Hi, how are you? How was your day?” and listening attentively while he or she tells you all about it. But the minute you open the door and drop your keys on the counter, you find yourself knee-deep in an argument about how he or she bought the wrong type of pepper.
Don’t worry: It’s perfectly normal to get into arguments like these with your significant other every once in a while, It’s what happens next that you need to watch out for.
When you express your frustration over the pepper mix-up, do you listen while he explains that perhaps you didn’t ever tell him what type of pepper you wanted? Do you think this over, and, when you realize that maybe he’s right, do you apologize? Or do you adopt an attitude and think to yourself, “What kind of an idiot doesn’t know that bell peppers are for stir-fry and habaneros are for salsa?”
If you find yourself in the second situation, you’re likely displaying contempt for your partner, and it could be putting your relationship in jeopardy. Contempt, a virulent mix of anger and disgust, is far more toxic than simple frustration or negativity. It involves seeing your partner as beneath you, rather than as an equal.