Recently, I was watching a YouTube video and my favorite take-away was the idea that the opposite of LOVE is FEAR (not hate). This idea has stayed with me and I have found that I want to incorporate that LOVE-FEAR concept into my work with couples. It is an interesting concept that has the potential to change how we see our differences.

In this theory, fear is, in part, a result of feeling vulnerable. When a loved one has a different point of view, our idea of truth is challenged. We fear that our connection to the truth and our connection with our loved one will be lost. This is one of the most common experiences of couples, especially in the early stages of their relationship.  During these times, it is difficult to accept that our beloved one thinks differently from us about any or many subjects.  We try to convince them to think more like us.

When we experience that fear we try to convince the other person that they are wrong (and our truth is right). This seldom goes well. Many arguments can be boiled down to this issue: how do we deal with differences between us?  When these differences are revealed, we feel threatened because our truth is challenged.  If we don’t recognize that differences are just that—differences, not bad or good, just different, then we may turn that fear into contempt or “hate”.

An example of this phenomenon that is familiar to many of us is during discussions about politics or religion with someone (maybe even our spouse) who has a different viewpoint, or “truth”. There are few, if any, instances when the discussion results in actually changing the other person’s mind. The end result of these discussions is usually that both people become angry and have many negative thoughts about the other person.

In a marriage, there are many differences between partners, including different viewpoints that each holds as the “truth”. If, instead of engaging in an argument about whose “truth” is more correct we get curious about the other person’s reasoning, we can actually feel closer to our spouse because we understand them better. It turns out that self-awareness surrounding fear actually reduces our tendency to fight for our viewpoint and “win” an argument. Instead, we can recognize our fear and reduce it, manage it, and listen.  Powerful!

Would you like to see where your relationship is strong and where it could use some improvement?  I have created the Relationship Review Quiz to do just that!  Here’s the link: 

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