What distinguishes couples in lasting marriages from those in more fragile ones, is not the absence of arguments, but the presence of respect and cherishment. When couples fight, what hurts is not the fact that their spouse disagrees with them, it is the contempt and indifference with which it is often packaged.

Contempt – the antithesis of Respect

Contempt is when you take a complaint about a specific action of your fiancé and attribute negative motives and character flaws to their person. So instead of just focusing on how they forgot to pick up something for you on the way home, it becomes an attack on how they never give any thought to you, how they are irresponsible and thoughtless, etc.

Contempt also globalises the issue. So it’s not just this specific incident, but every way your fiancé has ever let you down.

Indifference – the antithesis of Cherishment

Indifference is when you just check out of the conversation and cease to care about how your fiancé feels about the issue. So you might refuse to discuss it, stonewall or stubbornly hold on to your point of view, even when your fiancé makes a sincere attempt to reconnect.

Indifference also happens when you just avoid talking about it, or change the subject or sweep it under the carpet.

Habits that kill love

When indifference becomes chronic, when you shut down emotionally and cease investing in the relationship, you’re headed for trouble. Likewise, if contempt becomes habitual, it will drain the joy out of your relationship and set you up for destructive fights.

Contempt and indifference hurt, because they erode the very foundation of love between a couple.

When contempt and indifference enter a couple’s relationship, their confidence in their spouse’s love is destroyed. They are no longer sure that their spouse really loves them.

In order to safeguard your marriage, you will need to find ways to disagree, while still maintaining a disposition of respect and cherishment.


Francine & Byron Pirola

Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children. Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links. For Media Enquiries Please Contact us here

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