One of the four horsemen according to Gottman. While going through the series with Claire it started to dawn on me how much contempt I had toward her. On many things. Really it’s a lack of respect.
I do not respect Claire in many areas of our life. Some of them quite important. My sense is that I found those missing elements in Meredith and Sydney. They became a stand in to represent a relationship without contempt.
For example, when it comes to intelligence all three of these ladies are very intelligent. Claire is a doctor and Sydney and Meredith are both white collar professionals. Where their intelligence falls differs. Claire has a very no nonsense book smarts about her. She does not go deep into philosophical reasoning or get lost in high level discussions of the world, politics or the self. Yet she is still a brilliant person and clinician in her own right. Sydney and Meredith both fall on the side of philosophical. They enjoy the same types of discussions I do.
This ends up manifesting as contempt because I begin to resent Claire for not being able to discuss things with me that are important to me. She appears to half-ass it at best. Mostly though she just doesn’t engage. In reality it is not her thing, but I begin to see her as less than me. Less intelligent in the way I am intelligent. I don’t mean to feel this way because I do respect what she has accomplished with her life, but in the end I do feel more intelligent than her and it manifests within our relationship as contempt. A very unhealthy thing, and as Gottman said, the leading indicator of divorce.
Claire and I have very different intellectual styles. Even early in our marriage she would joke with me that I was so much more intelligent than she was, but she made up for it with effort. I suppose that is probably true. Those feelings of contempt started very early for me because of our differences. Probably the best way to imagine it is that a relationship forms in your brain similar to that of a parent-child relationship. The feeling of superiority forces you to think less of the other person whether you mean to or not.
Mostly I would hide these feelings and tell myself I was wrong. Tell myself all the ways she was smart. Yet we still were missing an intellectual connection so it never really fixed the problem.
There are other things too. Such as the way she interacts with other people, especially my family; her naivete around sex; her naivete around things like drugs and pop culture; her inability to discuss or watch the news; her extreme confidence in all things; etc. At times I find it almost embarrassing, but the worst part is that when these things happen I end up feeling a parent-child relationship form. It makes me lonely that I can’t be understanding of the same things with Claire. We don’t connect. It definitely takes away from sexual attraction.
Now I can recognize that these things are happening in my marriage but I still don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know if there is anything to do about it. We will keep working through the series together, and continue to do to counseling.
One last thing about counseling. We keep drudging up things about our relationship that have been bad for a long time. It’s crazy that each time is something my wife had been neglecting. I keep waiting for the shoe to drop on me, but maybe that’s one reason I ended up in an affair. Claire is a wonderful person, but she has not been a good wife.