Contempt

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.

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23 thoughts on “Contempt

  1. It is so frustrating to read a stranger’s blog. Your wife is known to us only through the filter of your writing. I have doctors in my family and I know the dedication it takes. Your wife is every bit as intelligent as you are. You cannot make it through medical school, internship and residency unless you are pretty darn smart. It is well known that many writers and philosophers cheated on their wives routinely. I have absolute disgust for someone who thinks he or she is better because they can do math, or discuss philosophy. What about kindness? What about empathy? Your wife is in the business of fixing people and saving lives. What are you doing? You’re running around thinking you are Mr. wonderful and cheating. I think of the two of you she comes out on top every time.

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      1. Hey now! Let’s not let a good story get in the way of the truth right?

        I know a guy that ended up marrying his psychologist. The irony is he is still married to his first wife and slept with second. His current wife has no idea.

        smh.

        But he refuses to speak to me because of how I mislead C or similar other contemptful and ill-informed narrative.

        I’ve always known people are hypocrites but infidelity does funny things to people’s moralizing outrage.

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    1. I never said she wasn’t as intelligent as me. I said she is a different kind of intelligent and when we interact it feels like she is less intelligent which causes the feelings I described. Lots of people cheat on their spouses from all occupations. I agree with you. She is an all around wonderful person and much better than me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are very correct that intelligence can manifest in different ways. Many people in the pure science fields (in my experience) are brilliant yet can appear no-nonsense and clinical vs someone of comparable IQ with a more creative mind utilizing less linear thought processes.
        Nor does job equal intelligence. Desire, maturity, effort, drive all go into getting thru medical school, law school, etc. I gave up on med because while I could dissect a cadaver I drew the line at vivisection of a rat. I got tossed from one major for getting the lab rats high and dying them with food coloring. Even my brother acknowledges I have far more innate intelligence than he does, yet he is the CEO of a fortune 500 company and an associate professor in his specialty field. Because he went to class, read the assignments, gave a shit. I went skiing and took a D in one class. I was immature & creative minded. Design & writing suited me better.
        My husband’s degree was economics. He is more like your wife it sounds. He talks fiscal theory, regulatory analysis.
        I’ve taken college courses in things that interest me to meet like minded people and have deep discussions. Husband and I have intellectual discussions fairly regularly but they often end with me telling him he’s a condescending asshat because he doesn’t see the point in reexamining something etc.
        We’ve been together 40 yrs. I understand your desire for that intellectual connection.
        I still think you should consider divorcing and eventually finding a like minded partner. You know now that looks, money, job, age, etc mean little in a long-term relationship if there is no mental connection.

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  2. Some of what you say in this blog entry rings true with me. My ex is a wonderful person but was not a good wife to me. Honestly, my pride kept me from admitting where I fell down as a husband. Part of your challenge in this is letting down your pride enough to address your own issues. To Claire’s credit, she is intelligent enough to have compassion for you, has resisted (at least from what seems evident) your contempt and has not let it breed her own contempt. After all, contempt breeds contempt.

    When I let my mind say to me that my wife was a stupid b****, that was when my marriage was about to end…..

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  3. These philosophical conversations, in my opinion, are the ones that happen when you’re getting to know someone. These conversations can’t be maintained in the hustle, bustle of everyday life, especially everyday life with young children. What parent of young children has the space, time, and energy for philosophical conversations?! These conversations often would be exhausting in a day to day setting. Maybe your wife is smarter than you and you have a very difficult time swallowing that. Could it be that she isn’t concerned in pop culture because she is a healer and such topics don’t interest her. Maybe the instances you were embarrassed by her lack of knowledge in such trivial matters didn’t matter to her at all. I mean who cares about pop culture anyway? Go ahead and leave for skanky Sydney. Let’s see how far that goes before you’re insulting her. Get it together, man. Find the answers inside yourself. You are the broken one. Fix yourself or are you too afraid to be alone long enough to face those demons? You’ll be jumping from one quick fix to another until you’ll take your last breath thinking about how you never found happiness. Grrrr. It’s you. Imagine your dick rotted off, now what makes you happy? How’s that for thought 🤔?

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    1. We never had them. Ever. And I think for many people these conversations do happen quite frequently. My dad and I have had them or whole lives. I have friends the same way. Claire does not like them at all. Pop culture was just one example. She claims to know but then doesn’t. Over and over.

      Your right I am broken. Probably time to leave and stop dumping all this on Claire.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My point was that you need to work on yourself without someone else in the wings. You’ll never find the answers if you keep filling the hole (pun not intended even if funny). There comes a time in many peoples lives that they have to decide to do the hard work needed on themselves to be a better person for their kids, their spouse, THEMSELVES! Your emptiness screams louder than anything else you write. Why is that inside you when you have so much. You have so many things that so many people dream of. Find the reason why none of this fulfills you. Your wife never had this conversations
        with you? These conversations that are so important to you? Why did you marry her? These are the questions. Sydney isn’t it. You may could’ve played the Meredith was the one card forever but since she was easily replaced he issue comes down to you. This may be your only chance to do the work to free yourself from whatever it is that’s hurting you internally. None of the shit you’ve written before is it. Those are just the things you can put the blame on. If you’re as smart as you say you are, dig deeper.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And I didn’t mean those conversations do t ever happen, I just mean it’s a here and there thing and not constant. Constant wold drive me bonkers when one kids was screaming over here and the other crying in the opposite direction. Life takes over often.

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    1. Seriously? Wow. Strong response. You should watch the Gottman series. Most of what I wrote about was pulled from that. I’m doing an introspection on how the contempt made me feel and how it impacted or relationship. Gottman calls it contempt. Sorry my introspection of my feelings upset you so.

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  4. What this boils down to is how long you have lied to your wife. That is the despicable part. The first time you connected emotionally to Meredith you began to lie. Your sexual interests are not even a part of it. You can’t help those. You could have done the right thing. The right thing was leaving Meredith alone until you separated. What you are doing by dragging this out is the same as a con job. Can you live on your salary? Is that the holdup? It just drags on.
    At some point in this I began to feel like this is just a made up story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Re: made up story: If that’s the case, brava! It is interesting how some turn of events began after they were mentioned; such as the hints of passionate rendezvous’ with Sydney, how at first he was staying away and then being told we were wrong on the rendezvous, then the story line changed to them having them in the stairwell.. 🤔🤔 interesting theory here Moi. Be even more interesting to see the change of events to come. I’ll keep an open mind for either route of fact or fiction we take! 👀

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      1. Truth is stranger than fiction. Things with Sydney moved fast. Often by the time I post an article the details in my life have already changed. This is definitely not made up. I know it sounds crazy. That’s why I’m writing about it. Who would believe me in real life??? Even as Sydney found out about Meredith she could barely believe it.

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      2. I have no doubt that by the time you get to posting about a recent event it ready happened and things may have changed. It’s life, that happens. I understand that. I often post about things that happened the day prior because I couldn’t get around to it around that moment

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    2. Yeah I feel really shitty about how I’ve treated my wife. I really do. The hold up is the children. It’s hard to imagine splitting them up.

      This is not a made up story. This is my life right now.

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  5. Patience, if this is fiction you could do worse. Right now the story is getting repetitive so try to change things a little. Maybe have Claire have an affair. That could work.

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  6. I read a lot of books. In fiction there is an arc; a beginning, a middle, and an end. In real life there is no such thing. So, if we are to take it this is real then we have to look at you as a real person and not somebody’s made-up character. It is amazing to me how many men who hit middle-age just decide that their middle-aged wife is boring. Your wife is a doctor? I think that doctors are very interesting actually. So, your wife is not a good conversationalist and she does not speak philosophically. She probably talks about blood pressure and life-changing things like that. Where exactly has philosophy ever gotten most people? Most of us on this planet have gotten up every morning and tried to get through the day the best we can. Most of us don’t have the luxury of sitting around contemplating our navels and discussing philosophy with our future lovers ad nauseum . When I say repetitive I mean that. It is not just your story. There are so many men with too much time and money on their hands. It’s disgusting actually. You brought two children into this world with your wife and all of a sudden she’s boring and not deep enough for you. Get over it. You are not deep. You are a bored middle-aged man.
    I am not going to go back and read the beginning of this blog so I may be wrong. Are you a first responder? If so it is my understanding that you people cheat more than you pee. Adrenaline rushes are so much fun you get addicted to them. What could be less addictive than coming home every day to the routine of marriage. Let’s heat it up a bit. Let’s find someone at work who thinks “I’m a hottie”. I am guessing that your two love interest are about 15 years younger than you. I have a neighbor whose husband died recently. There were 16 years between them so she is now about your age and by herself. I’ll bet she wishes she was married to someone her age and they were bored with life.

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