This month we’re going to talk about a relationship destroying tactic that I wish didn’t exist: belligerence. Belligerence, as I mentioned last month, is a close cousin to contempt. It is another powerful predictor of divorce because it erodes trust, intimacy, and friendship, driving the partner on the receiving end to withdraw from the relationship.
Belligerence is hostile and combative behavior that attempts to demonstrate the assertion of power. It can take the form of threats, name calling, bullying, teasing, or dares. Rather than working to solve problems and foster love, the belligerent partner escalates conflict by using aggressive anger, ignoring their partner, or repeatedly interrupting, provoking, and accusing with “you” statements.
Sounds awful right? It is. I wish I could tell you that I have never met couples who behave in this manner towards one another, but I’d be lying if I did.
You’re probably wondering if anything can be done to restore harmony for these couples. Fortunately, the answer is yes! Couples who struggle with contempt and belligerence benefit from:
- Acknowledging that perhaps an argument has gotten off track
- Starting the discussion over after a cool down period
- Prioritizing attempts to repair the relationship during and after a fight
- Focusing on sharing feelings honestly
- Taking one’s partner’s feelings into account
- Sharing power and decision making
Love cannot flourish when contempt and belligerence have taken up permanent residence in a relationship. Couples who struggle with these issues will need to learn new communication skills and manage the difficult emotions that relationships can often evoke. Stopping this cycle is hard work. But I have seen couples make monumental changes and restore their love and commitment to one another.
Stay tuned for next month’s article when I focus on the last intimacy destroying tactic that often signals the end for love. Until then, please focus on being kind and loving to one another.