Contempt is the bane of change. And 7 ways to eliminate contempt and love again means change. So, if you are one of the many who blew it, or were the victim of that train wreck of a marriage or partnership, how to save a drying relationship probably sounds impossible. But it’s not.
How to save a dying relationship can be as simple as being fair. Focusing on the reasons you originally loved your partner. It is not as much about forgiving as it is about remembering the value of that person to fairly balance the good, the bad, and the ugly.
As we spoke about in the last post, WHY DO RELATIONSHIPS END: How to turn hate into love again?, we learned that more often than not, it takes eliminating the contempt you feel and replacing it with some cold hard facts. As hard as it is to admit, that person you feel contempt for probably is still that same person you fell in love with. That person who rocked your world turned you upside down. In this article, we cover 7 ways to eliminate contempt and love again.
Just to clarify, this article is not for couples who break up from non committed relationships. If you’ve been in a 5-year relationship and never could accept that other person’s idiosyncrasies, perhaps it was more of a convenience relationship even if it had those “over the moon and stars” moment, but always dropped back down far from the glitter of stars. You know that long-term thing, where you never lived together, maybe it was rebound love, never had that amazing commitment it takes to wake up to that person each day… rather you saw each other on a kind of a schedule. You never really dove in one hundred percent, regardless that at times you gave up everything for them. These relationships more than often end do to simple incompatibility.
But if you were in love, got married, or plunged in, lived together, had kids, build a life, that person got under your skin. Every day you were there rolling over to see them on the other side of the bed. They were the ones who gave you hope, love, balanced your negative side. Pushed your fears to success. They were that one that hurt you. Challenged you and loved you enough to mess you up… Now you hate them. Why? Contempt. Again contempt is the bane of change, so if you want to eliminate contempt and love again, you will need to change one thing—that contempt.
#1 KNOWING IS NOT HALF THE BATTLE
Recognizing the problems is not half the battle of how to save a dying relationship. I took a course with Laurie Santos, Professor of Psychology at Silliman College at Yale University. The idea of cognitive biases: The G.I. Joe Fallacy explains how knowing and recognizing something is not half the battle but rather a very tiny step. The real battle is strategizing the motions needed to make the change. It’s easy to think about what we need and want to do rather than really doing it.
So, if you’re looking at your relationship, recognizing what went wrong, or how much you hurt your partner, your children family, and so on. It’s important to realize knowing is not going to solve how to save a dying relationship. But in these 7 WAYS TO ELIMINATE CONTEMPT & LOVE AGAIN, you will find the steps that move you forward into that needed strategy.
THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE WORSE OFF WHO HEALED THEIR RELATIONSHIP
Couples go for decades through the storms, with bigger problems or heartbreak than you’ve been through. You might be surprised when you take a close look around you to discover just how hard and brutal some relationship troubles are. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that there is always someone worse off than you who came through it and healed their love. And as odd as this sounds, it actually helps to realize it, as many feel they are without help or hope.
So, the ugly word contempt can be removed from your heart. And all it takes is you being fair.
If your response is, they are assholes, jerks, bitches from hell, liars, traitors, cheaters, selfish, self-centered, mean, and so on. Then join the club. Over fifty percent of marriages are right where you are. But if you’re married, you’ve got a better chance of surviving, as marriages are harder to break than relationships without that piece of paper. Meaning, less the paper, the higher the percentage of breakups. So, don’t let it be said that a silly piece of paper means nothing. A marriage contract is no different than any contract we have in life: buying a house, starting a business, taking a job offer, having your house remodeled, and so on. Where would we be without contracts? Lost, confused, and running away when things get difficult. That is truly why marriages get through trouble times easier than those who are not married.
#2 IDENTIFY THE CONTEMPT IN DETAIL
Relationship difficulties usually start when one partner begins to feel they are not getting what they bargained for in the relationship. They feel they are the better half. Take a look at what you argue or argued about. Contempt is easy to spot. Here are some examples of typical contempt:
- “You don’t listen,” meaning that partner thinks they listen better.
- “You are never there for me,” meaning that partner feels they are doing everything.
- “I’m sick of your friends,” meaning that partner feels their friends are nice, and yours are annoying.
- “Why don’t you work? The kids are old enough now,” meaning that the partner feels or does make all the money, and you should help.
- “I’m tired of your family interfering in our life,” meaning that partner feels your family doesn’t meet the standards.
- “You spend too much money; we need to save,” meaning that partner feels they don’t overspend; it’s you wasting the money.
- “You don’t love me anymore.” Meaning that partner feels they are loving and have been rejected.
#3 THINKING FAIR IS HOW TO SAVE A DYING RELATIONSHIP
Have you ever heard an angry couple argue with true statements like this?
- “I know I’m never there for you when you need it, but I’m angry because you’re never there for me.”
- “My brother can’t stand the fact that I married you, and I never tell him to back off, but I’m tired of your sister deciding what I should do with the kids.”
- “I know we agreed that you would be at home with kids until they finish school, but I’m sick of you not deciding on your own just to go back to work before they finished school.”
- “I don’t really care what you have to say this last year, but I’m tired of you not listening to me.”
#4 BEING GRATEFUL AND FOCUSING ON SHARED EXPERIENCES
There are so many clues to how couples remain strong. In long-distance relationships, it’s known that one key is creating shared experiences and being grateful for what they have. The same applies to healing wounded relationships. Focusing on shared experiences and being grateful for them, brings trust back and naturally eliminates contempt and love again.
Have you been through this or know of others who have.
- Fights go on for years, and nothing resolves itself.
Fighting and arguing, as we all know is a circus of throwing stones and hitting below the belt. It’s the equivalent of the Hatfields and McCoys. And that is some deep contempt. Senseless accusations! You’d think there was no hope, but gratitude in the smallest scale breeds love.
It’s a matter of bitting the bullet and deciding to remember what you were grateful for in your relationship. If there was nothing, you were in love.
- Counseling and its homework to find new activities as a couple, including workbooks, prayer meetings, creative interventions, and creating better communication, did not end the pain, separation, or divorce.
Don’t get me wrong, how to save a dying relationship for some means counseling. And to eliminate contempt and love again is different for each of us, but successful healing of any kind of relationship all lead to that one place. The same place where you can look at that person and remember what brought you together in the first place — When you can allow love in and take down the walls you’ve built to protect yourself — That place where you become fair again — the bottom line that place void of contempt, that place where you remember the gratitude you had.
Here are some examples that keep couples apart when they are not grateful:
- I don’t want to be hurt again, so I’m not going to fall for her making me feel better or all the things great about her. I won’t feel lovesick when she cries. It’s over. (With gratitude, you don’t think about how you will be hurt.)
- I’m not going to fall for his charms, kind heart, or thinking about how good I felt with him because I’m not going to be hurt again. It’s over.
- After what she/he did to me, I can never forgive that regardless that I am also at fault. (When you are grateful you don’t blame.)
- He/she cheated on me, and once a cheater, always one. Just because we drifted apart and I wasn’t a good spouse, which pushed my partner into cheating, it doesn’t matter. They should have been superhuman. Who cares about my part in it? I didn’t cheat. They are the bad ones, and I can’t risk it happening again. (When you are grateful you see how you are responsible, you are forgiving, and gratitude puts a value on everything.)
When you add gratitude to any of the above, it turns the tables like miracle because it removes contempt.
What these types of people can’t risk happening again has more to do with what they feel they have failed.
If you want to know the truth, then be grateful for the long list of things this person did for you. Remember them without the rules of self-preservation. Maybe he worked two jobs while finishing school and continued to build that life for you both. Maybe you gave birth to his two giant children? Maybe both of you lived in a one-room while saving for the future. Maybe it was that person that pushed you to be the better person you are today.
Make a list of things you were grateful for when you loved that person.
Make a list of things you were grateful for when you loved that person.
How you approach the subject does matter. Communication is important, but I’ve seen couples who communicate beautifully that didn’t save the marriage or relationship without the effort to remove the contempt. Communication under the duress of contempt is not communication; it’s contempt.
#5 Focus on the positive. It was once there and still is; you just buried it.
You can rebuild any relationship, new, old, married, or divorced, by focusing on what you like about that person. It’s similar to what you were grateful for, yet different. It’s more the traits they have that are admirable. It’s a matter of not looking for what your partner does or did wrong but what they did or do right. The wrong will always outweigh the good because we are hardwired to fear the worse. When a storm approaches, we prepare, board the windows, and so on, but a sunny day might not be memorable. It was just a sunny day that happens regularly.
I do not suggest exes reunite and re-marry or that anyone restart a relationship. I suggest that we stop being the mean, nasty humans for a change in this world and focus on doing what’s right. And what is right is to stop blaming, stop imagining you’re the innocent smarter side of the existing or past relationship.
#6 THINK BACK ON WHAT CONNECTED YOU
Now, this is hard for those who have divorced or separated. They are long past the memories and have accepted the new negative version of their ex-partner or soon to be ex, but it can still be done.
- Looking at photo albums can help. But it’s up to you. You can be stubborn and self-centered or admit that this person did have qualities and let go of your negatives. To eliminate contempt and love again is not only for healing relationships but also for being that person you always want to be. Telling yourself that regardless of whether you heal your relationship or not, you will do the right thing and eliminate contempt.
- Accepting the truth doesn’t mean you must reconnect. It’s not a matter of that. It’s a matter of truth. If you have children, then it’s that much more important to reconnect with your partner if for nothing more than future conflict resolution, even if divorce has already come and gone. For the rest of your life, that person will be in your life connected to your child and soon to be grandchildren.
- Reconnecting to the good in that person you once knew and loved can simply mean letting go of the contempt you built in order to establish a fair and just future. It doesn’t mean becoming a couple again. It means treating this human being fair again.
What was your first impression of your partner?
Why were you attracted to them? What kept you with this person? If your answer is you don’t know, and there were no real reasons, you’re not honest with yourself. No one makes someone their long-term partner for no reason.
What about this person attracted you? Their strength, kindness, an unknown fondness, trust, reliability, honesty. I’m sure there is something about that person that happened only with them. What is it?
A true story…
One of my clients couldn’t think of anything he liked about his ex-partner until one day. He mentioned out of the blue how he could never sleep next to anyone but her.
Soon other things emerged: only with her did he like drinking coffee. Only with her did he feel challenged. She was the only person he felt afraid of because she was able to move him emotionally. He feared the control she had over him, as deep down, he knew he’d loved her.
Talks led to a discovery of many things the couple had in common. They never fought about things most couples fought about. They agreed on how to decorate their home, treat other people. He never looked at another woman and enjoyed being with her as friends and lovers.
She’d helped him lose 30 pounds, and he helped her finish her education. As the months passed, the list went on with stories of how amazing she was to iron his shirts, cook the meals, clean the house, care for their child, how she loved his family and was always showing it to him. Most amazing was how positive she was when things were hard. She never stopped believing in him, or life, or love.
After he began remembering these things, he was free of his contempt. He suddenly realized it was okay to know she was a fabulous person who he was proud to have been with.
Couples end their relationships for the wrong reasons as much as some remain together for equally wrong reasons. This article is about good relationships, not abusive, violent, or relationships built on lies. But just those two people who met fell in love, and yet they let love go and now seek how to save a dying relationship.
Think over events in the past, were they happy?
For example, one couple couldn’t find anything they liked about each other until they talked about their relocation to Spain for 8 years. They began recalling how supportive both were. She gave up what she loved most to support the move, and he knew he’d never have made it without her as Spain was her first home. She helped him immigrate, learn the language, and connect.
#7 THINK BACK TO HOW YOU FELL IN LOVE
- What are the details?
- Think about the first time you met, kissed, made love. What happened?
- How did things progress?
- How excited were you around this person?
- What lengths did you go to to see and be with this person?
- How funny were they?
- How attracted to this person were you? What was beautiful or attractive about your partner in the early years?
- What about your partner did you respect and appreciate?
- Why were they, your friend?
Life is amazing, live it, love, and be fair… (:
- Focus Colligate, The G.I. Joe Fallacy: Knowing is Half the Battle, Right?