Last Wednesday, the following dare was posted on the fan page:
"Think of the last time you experienced the contempt of another person towards you. Ouch?
Research by Dr. John Gottman suggests contempt is a marriage destroyer. Today, we ask you to erradicate contempt: no more insults or name calling ("failure," "loser," "lazy,"), no more mocking or putting the other person down, eye rolling, subtly discounting the other person's opinion...contempt makes us see our husband as someone who doesn't deserve our respect. Not true, but it lies to us and is a marriage destroyer."
I did not respond on Wednesday. I had a lot of thinking to do; a lot of soul searching, actually. I came to some realizations that were tough to face. I posted the following as my two part response:
Contempt for my ex-husbands most surely inflicted far more damage on those marriages than any of their indiscretions. I truly believe (now) that contempt is the most powerful tool in the devil's arsenal AND it is the most socially acceptable sin that we can commit in marriage.
But, in God's eyes, contempt towards our spouse is contemptible.
Unfortunately, I was not raised in a Christian home. I had no idea that contempt was a "bad" feeling. By example, I learned that contempt was the appropriate non-violent recompense for being wronged. I entered my first three marriages with that frame of mind. I had NO idea there was a better way. But I sure knew that divorce was the most exhilaratingly effective form of contempt.
Believe me - I remember how dark was the place from which Jesus rescued me. But I also know that when a sinner as depraved as me comes out of the waters of baptism, the conversion process has just begun. It can be a long, hard road undoing subtle and insidious bad habits.
A sin like contempt is not easily observed by onlookers, including clergy and ecclesiastical leaders. Contempt - especially in marriage - is not generally a topic expounded upon from the pulpit. No one ever approached me or attempted to teach me a better way until my mother prompted a joint study of Ephesians 5:33b and The Respect Dare.
I knew that my marriage to Bruce would require becoming a complete reversal of my former self. I did not know exactly what course that would take, but I knew and trusted the Teacher of my re-education. I knew that becoming centered on honoring God in my marriage would be life changing. Dramatic life changing requires repentance.
Without repenting of contempt, it is impossible to fully respect.
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