The Chill Look of Contempt...
The Chill Look of Contempt [as always, all personal details are changed - ages, names, occupations]
Remember the first 'look of love' when your new partner would gaze at you with adoring eyes? You'd positively flush with pleasure under their passion-filled expression.
Well, there's more to the looks your partner gives than you'd guess. Facial expressions are terribly important to relationships and we all become amateur behaviour experts when it comes to deciphering our partner's own unique variety of expressions. As we come to know each other better, in an instant we can register their happiness, their surprise, or hurt, even guilt, and let's not forget their anger!
This is why I was concerned when a client reported that her husband had adopted a new look. And this look happened to be one of the key signals that a relationship is on its last legs and the love two people have shared is under threat.
What did Stella, 32, see on husband-of-four-years, Mike's face? In a word she saw contempt. It flickered across his face with growing regularity whenever they had anything from a tiny tiff to a major row.
Alarmingly a number of relationship studies have found that once that look of contempt is evident it's a prime indication that inside that partner has had festering, negative feelings for so long that they may have turned a corner from which there is no return.
Stella had come for confidence coaching to learn how to promote herself in a better light at work. During our conversations she mentioned the stresses at home and those 'looks'. I urged her to deal head on with her relationship instead.
Frank discussions between her and Mike uncovered much bitterness: he thought she continually relied on him for support over various strains yet he felt increasingly unsupported himself. Time will tell if they can turn things around.
If you take note of one look today on your partner's face, and it spells contempt, don't delay in getting to the bottom of things. It means you're already in a potentially dangerous place - the last chance corral for saving your relationship.
A similar article was published in The Times