How to Fight Contempt.

They say, other than infidelity, that one of the most common, if not the most common reason of divorce has some sort of financial under-pinning to it, AKA money problems. If you or your spouse don’t know how to properly manage each others money, not to mention, as a single entity, a couple, then it’s going to inevitably cause arguments that one, could have been avoided, and two, tend to have the ability to escalate very rapidly.  So yes, money causes a lot of problems, and how we handle these problems usually determine the future of our relationships.

Seems pretty logical, no?

But what exactly is it about money that causes these fights, these heated arguments?

What’s funny is that this whole post wasn’t even motivated by money or relationships, but rather, “inspired” (you could say) by an incident that happened to me at my job.

I’d actually like to give a little back story on that in order to make the rest of the post make a little bit more sense.

So let me tell you a little bit about myself. (if you don’t already know)

At the moment, I currently work two jobs. One is during the week, and the other, with the rather unpleasant hours, 12AM – 12PM, is on the weekend. I work my 2nd job immediately following my full-time job I work during the week. So my schedule for the week usually goes something like this.

Monday – Friday, I go to work from 9:30AM – 6PM, then Friday night, I try and get home as quick a possible, then sleep from 7:30ish PM till 11:00 PM. I get ready for work again, and then work Friday night from 12 AM – 12 PM. Then, Saturday night, go to work, come back Sunday afternoon, try to rest up Sunday afternoon, then repeat. I’ve been doing this for around 11 months now, so I’ve gotten as close to accustomed to it as I’ll ever be.

With that said, many times, especially if I don’t get a lot of rest either Friday night, or Saturday afternoon, I’ll get short-fused and irritated. Throw that on top of a job where people are constantly calling me to, more or less, complain about their computer issues (I work in IT), it takes a decent amount of self-control not to let your anger slip at times. Which, I have let my anger slip, and in hindsight, feel guilty about it.

And with that out of the way, I can continue my story.

This past weekend, Daylight saving weekend, I got the wonderful privilege of, instead of working 12 hours, got to work 13 hours (oh Ben Franklin, what have you done?). Not only that, but during this weekend, one of the major systems that runs the hospital I work at, happened to be undergoing maintenance.

So what does this mean?

It means, me, all alone, will inevitably run into a lot more “issues” most of which I can’t exactly fix on my own, or at all. The end-users don’t know this. They simply call, and expect IT (me) to have all the answers, that I know everything. As you can probably see where I’m going with this, I don’t know everything. Which, the person on the other end of the phone (believing I do know everything) starts to build a little bit of anger when I can’t help them, because, in their mind, it’s as if I’m not willing to help them when I tell them, there’s nothing I can do at the moment, but can make a ticket for the weekday staff. 

The problem is, they don’t like that answer. So, they go on to tell me how I need to do something, or at least try, which, naively, I agree. Then, after we waste about half an hour together, and the problem isn’t fixed, I then repeat to them, I can make a ticket for the weekday staff. And, again, they see it as I’m unwilling to help them.

At this point, both me and the user are getting, what you could call, “close to exploding in anger”. We both are under the impression that each one of us holds the other in contempt, or in laymen’s term, don’t care about each others feelings, that whatever the goals of the other’s are, ours are more important.

And yes, I was angry. I kept thinking, why don’t they understand I can’t help them? I went on to think, why can’t they see I’m doing the best I can? It was like they didn’t care that I was actually putting forth an effort to help them.

Of course, after looking back, they probably thought the same thing. They probably thought, Why does he not even want to help me? Doesn’t he care I can’t do my job? Which both of us were blinded by our anger. Both of us were blinded by contempt.

As I thought about this, I couldn’t help but wonder, why was I so blind? Why was I so stupid? I’m usually a pretty positive and a helpful person. I have no problems going out of my way to help others. It’s what I truly enjoy doing. But what was it that made me hesitant help others at work last weekend, even worse, despise the thought of having to help others for the rest of the duration of my shift?

Contempt. Namely, as others began to think I was holding them in contempt, I truly started to actually hold them in contempt. It was like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And that’s how I think this relates to relationships and marriage.

It’s not exactly the money that causes the breakups, or even, when another partner cheats on his or her spouse, it’s not exactly the action itself that causes the fight.

It’s the underlying emotion. Contempt.

When our partner spends too much money, say, on clothes, items, and other unnecessary things, we feel as if he or she is being selfish. They’re not putting any regard to our own feelings.

The same is if a partner cheats on us.  We’re not so upset, at least at first, about the action itself, but rather the fact that our partner betrayed our trust, and put his or her own desires and pleasures above us.

And how do you fight that? How do you get over the fact that the other person, that he or she, truly might not have any regard to you’re own well-being?

I think, it’s with compassion. It’s with empathy.

Part of being compassionate towards others is, ironically, looking at yourself first. Although you might have good reason to believe the other person is out to hurt you, look to see if there was anything you that might’ve made the situation worse?

Let’s take the partner committing infidelity into examination.

If a partner cheats on you, emotionally, physically, or both, ask yourself, did they have any reason, any reason at all to believe you were not giving them the attention and care he or she needed or deserved? Is there any reason, he or she might have needed to look elsewhere to get something they weren’t getting from you?

If your answer is no, you were giving it 100%, in fact, you were giving it 150%, then, it’s likely that your choice of partner was an error on your part, and you’ll have to be more attentive and careful choosing your next partner, if you do so.

If your answer is yes, which it very likely will be, then that’s when you have a choice. You can say, I understand my flaws now, and I will work to rectify them, but you must do the same for me, which it does depend on the other partner actually agreeing to do so, as well. But, if both of you agree to consistently work on becoming better for each other, and part of that does involve facing disagreements, because no relationship is perfect, then you can decrease the likeliness any situation such as infidelity will happen in the future.

So in the end, the conversation becomes something like this:

Here’s what I want, and here’s what I expect from you. If you are not willing to respond in the way I laid it out, please provide me another solution, to which I will consider. I will then respond back to your request, so that we can come to a mutual agreement that will continuously work to better us for the future.”

Then repeat. Forever.

Once contempt, at any point in that dialogue enters, it very well could be game over.

Thanks for reading,