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 I won’t love you less, but I may hate you more.  

This year, for the first time ever, my wife and I managed to watch all the best picture nominated movies before the academy awards.  Quite an accomplishment since there were nine of them.  I watched a couple of movies I wouldn’t have otherwise gone to, including War Horse.  I bring this up here because it gave us our favorite movie line of the year.  A character, in response to her husband’s expressed fear she would stop loving him because of his failures in life said, “I won’t love you less, but I may hate you more.”

Why share this story here.  On the surface it is just kind of a cute saying, but it also seems to hit a chord with people.  One person we shared with said, “Wow, that’s what marriage is isn’t it?”  I don’t want to be cynical enough to say it sums up marriage, but I think it resonates with people because we can and often do experience very conflicting emotions in close relationships.

Many people think love and hate are at opposite ends of the same spectrum.  I don’t think so.  What makes more sense to me is something I have heard a number of places: the opposite of love is apathy.

Both love and hate require a powerful emotional investment.  You have to care about something a great deal for it to be worth investing the emotion to hate it.  Many find their most powerful negative emotions are frequently directed at the people they care the most about.  When thought about from the point of emotional investment this makes sense.  The people we care most about are likely to bring about both the most powerful positive and negative feelings we have.

Knowing this, it is important to see the negative emotions, the hate if you will, as a sign something needs to be worked on in the relationship.  I know, kind of a “duh” statement, but sometimes people feel like the powerful negative emotions mean the relationship is fundamentally flawed, isn’t working, and should be ended.  No.  Feeling negative things about the people we love the most is pretty natural.  Just remember that and use “hate” as a cue to get to work on the relationship.  It is a sign you are invested in the relationship.  The time to really start worrying is when you don’t care any more.