Love repellent #7 is what can end the honeymoon in a hurry

You got married! And then the dynamic shifts

You used to adore everything he said and everything he did

And suddenly you are nitpicking

Nothing he does is good enough

You constantly find fault


So what is the love repellent here?

Developing contempt for your spouse

- Dr. John Gottman's research (revealed in Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller Blink) revealed a startling statistic

- By identifying one negative communication pattern, he became a predictor of divorce with great accuracy

- If the couple's communication contained disrespect that was at the level of contempt, . . .

. . . 90% of the time, the relationship would end in divorce

- Why?

- Because disrespect at that level is the most destructive pattern there is

- It's more than just criticism. Contempt is hostile and dismissive

- The target of contempt will feel unvalued and worthless

No one would marry someone they felt contempt for!

- So how does a marriage erode into this?!

- There's a pattern that lowers the relationship to this dire state

- The good news is that it is reversible

So what do you do differently?


To save the relationship, we have to get you back up to Soulmate Level

This is how you felt when you first fell in love

What happens to get you to contempt?

You go from being in love, cherishing this person to finding fault at every turn

You may treat him with disrespect, even mock him or berate him
Why would you do this?

 It's a way of not getting too close in case you would get hurt

 It often mirrors a pattern you saw in your childhood

 It's a way to feel superior in the event you have confidence issues

 And it's often the product of having an assumption about the role of your spouse, what they should be doing that they then fall short of

 Some have a pattern of devaluing someone who would actually love them, akin to Groucho Marx's joke "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member"

People who display this negative communication get sick far more often with infectious disease

And it is the one pattern that almost ensures divorce

But no matter how bad it's gotten, you can heal this and save the marriage

Here is the antidote:

1. We need to shift the focus. Start looking for the things you appreciate in your partner

2. Interrupt the pattern by catching yourself when you're about to disrespect your spouse and let him off the hook

3. Have an honest talk with your mate about elevating the communication and apologize

4. Go deeper into your talk and admit that you're scared, that you had a bad example, that you don't know better

5. Display warmth and affection more regularly. Remember from Repellent #1, warmth is the characteristic that makes you most cherished

6. Have some fun together. Change the dynamic back to enjoyment


A married woman who came to me was at her wit's end

Her husband had filed for divorce

And he would not talk to her either. He had moved out and was only communicating through lawyers

She admitted the marriage had gotten bad after 6 years, but that she still loved him and wanted him back

When pressed, she disclosed that she treated him badly

-He never made enough money

-He was a clutter bug, hanging on to old albums, broken technology with piles all over their home

-He dressed like a slob

-He said stupid things at parties

Her list of his faults was a mile long

I asked her why she wanted him back if he was so horrible?

She looked at me funny, and said, "I love him!"
I asked her why she loved him

And it changed everything

She had a long list of how he is handsome, lovely, warm, endearing and sensitive

So what happened?!

Over the years, she quit focusing on how great it was to be with the one she loved

And put increasing focus on the mundane daily issues and how he was screwing up

The big revelation was that none of the nitpicky stuff mattered

What mattered was how much they had loved each other

(And as the mother of 4 boys plus a husband and a male dog, I had to lower her expectations on what to expect on the household front: LOL!)

It took a lot of pushing and going through the lawyer to get the two in a room together

My client poured her heart out, admitting she still loved him, apologizing and telling him she was wrong to have so much contempt for him

He agreed to give the marriage one more try

He still loved her but was just so beaten down

It took some work for her to not devolve into that same contempt pattern but with the steps we took, she was able to keep it at Soulmate Level

She had to show him how much she still loved him, and that she had changed

And they are more happy then ever!

Healing my client from Love Repellent #7 saved her marriage and allowed her to get closer than she has ever been to another human, something she admitted she was scared of due to childhood trauma


1. If you are in an eroding relationship now or have been in the past, we need to get you out of that pattern so it won't happen again. Write down any way that you contributed to the demise of your relationship now or in the past. Leave room after each one, and write down what you could have done better that would have been more constructive

2. When you find yourself going down the criticism path, stop yourself and instead, remember all of the ways you appreciate your partner. Put a hard line with yourself over going down the path of insulting, mocking or any expression of contempt. This should be unacceptable behavior!

3. Ask yourself "Do I have a pattern of contemptive behavior in my past?" If so, this is a warning that we need to guard against and learn a new respect for fellow human beings and for your mate especially. 

The easiest way to do so is to practice appreciation, respect and get more comfortable with being close

4. Make it a habit to often display warmth (the antidote to Repellent #1) especially to those you are close to. If we can make this your default mode of communication, the rewards will be immense, particularly in your marriage

5. If someone begins treating YOU with contempt, then address it with that person. If they continue, write it off as a divorce deadend and move on. You are worth more than this, and it won't end well anyway

So this is the last blog in my Love Repellent Series. I hope you've enjoyed the info, which comes from 18 years of helping people find and keep love and a huge wall of weddings to show for it. If you missed any of the series, catch my blog where the repellents are being reposted.