When a couple in conflict comes in for marriage therapy, the first thing that is most often observed is not the words that they say.  Though many times the words may be very hurtful, sad, discouraging, or raw, it is what the body communicates that is often more important.  John Gottman from the Gottman Relationship Institute highlights one of the first things he looks for during the first session with a couple.  It is body language that unconsciously communicates contempt for their partner.  It is this emotional stance, contempt, which is the greatest indicator of a marriage ending in divorce.

Body language that most directly communicates this is consistent rolling of the eyes or a complete inability to make any level of vulnerable eye contact.  Other indicators are consistent sarcastic tones, body posture that is completely shut down from their partner and a complete active resistance to utilizing reflective listening in session.  However, the biggest and most clear indicator is the simple act of rolling of the eyes. 

Other big signs of a marriage potentially ending in divorce are a consistent hopelessness about the future, and inability to reestablish trust, a refusal to reach out for help from others, a refusal to pursue their spouse and a general cynicism about their spouse.

The biggest indicator is contempt because it embodies all the above indicators.  A marriage can still be saved even if there is a high level of contempt within it.  Also, just because one or both partners roll their eyes from time to time, that does not also mean that contempt is an issue within the relationship. The context of when they roll their eyes is what is essential.  For more information on transforming your marriage or to schedule a session with Nathan Oliver or Amy Oliver, please contact us at www.olivercounseling.com.