My Account
0

To Love, or to Like?

”Like” is a word that is underrated, while the word “love” steals all of the attention.

Share this post:

I love my husband dearly, and it is easy to list all of the things that I love about him. He’s a gorgeous man and I love looking at him, and he has this adorable little mole on his ear. He is so generous with his love. He almost smothers me with it, and I absolutely love every bit of it. He worries about my safety and looks for ways to protect me, even though I don’t necessarily need protecting, but it’s nice that he makes me feel so safe.

We have also had to learn to “like” each other as well. ”Like” is a word that is underrated, while the word “love” steals all of the attention. Love, as an action and a word, is easily and freely given and accepted, while “like” is usually felt but not always spoken or heard. The act of liking your partner doesn’t seem to be given the credit it deserves.

But, I wonder how hard it must be for my husband to like me all of the time, with the sheer amount of time and energy it must take for him to put up with all of my idiosyncrasies. Candidly speaking, I don’t think that I’m easy to like. I mean, I barely like myself some of the time, and yet my husband finds ways to like me regardless.

So, what does it mean to like your spouse aside from loving your spouse? What is the psychological difference?

In 1973, social psychologist Zick Rubin published the results from a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which was based on a love scale and a like scale presented as written questionnaires to couples. Rubin found that we tend to admire those we like and enjoy their company, but love created a desire for physical intimacy as well as an empathetic feeling that caused a romantic partner to care for their partner’s needs as much as their own.

Psychologists prior to Rubin proposed that love was merely an elevated form of liking, but Rubin proved that they are two different sentiments, even if they are related. Rubin’s study found that couples deeply in love “would spend more time gazing into one another’s eyes than would couples who loved each other to a lesser degree.” And poet Robert Frost once wrote that “love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”

Well, which is more important to the longevity of relationships? Loving, or liking, or a combination of both? There is an art to being able to like your spouse regardless of how much you may love them. When couples start to feel like the love is dying out, is it really? Or is it the ability to stay in love with them even when you don’t particularly like them at the time? When does the feeling of liking your partner die out, and what can we do to keep it alive?

My husband isn’t always easy to like. He makes decisions that I don’t necessarily like. He has some tendencies that I know I do not like. He may say something that I don’t like or want to hear, and sometimes, like anyone, he can be flat-out unlikeable. I can easily distinguish what I like from what I don’t like about him, even though I love him dearly.

However, the Gottmans have found that liking your partner is crucial to a relationship. The Gottman Sound Relationship House incorporates the love and like parts of a healthy relationship in two areas: Building Love Maps and Sharing Fondness and Admiration. These components of a relationship encourage you to discover, understand, and grow fond of (or like) your partner. The process teaches that you both are better for truly getting to know your partner, including their quirks and habits that may annoy you. But, that process enables you to turn towards each other in times of strife or distress, and it creates a foundation of trust.

This has helped me to examine the art of knowing and loving my husband, so that my vow to love and cherish my husband can go beyond what I deem likable or not. Just as I want to be loved and cherished, his acceptance of me, especially including what he may not like, is important to keeping our marriage strong and stable.

Sometimes I snore like a bear, but he accepts that. My flaws are some of the things that make me wonderful and unique to him, which is why he chose me. That is reason enough for me to look past a few of his flaws as well and to trust that maybe, in spite of what I think is decidedly likable or not, is actually more loveable than I might have realized.


Improve your relationship in 30 days! Backed by over 40 years of research, the 30 Days to a Better Relationship challenge will help you reconnect and bring more positivity into your relationship. The tools and exercises, delivered once a day for 30 days by email, take five minutes or less to complete and build on one another to help you progress.


Share this post:

Shantel is an entrepreneur, writer, and designer. She has a BA in Business Administration with a focus on Project Management and is currently working on a Masters in Psychology. She serves as the Director of Children Ministry at Bethany Community Church North. In her spare time, she lends her ear as a Life Coach. She is a wife of 28 years to an amazing man and mother to four beautiful prodigies, as well a host of godchildren who have been graciously bestowed to her throughout her and her husband’s life.

Recommended products

Image of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work book

$17.00

This New York Times bestselling book is an overview of the concepts, behaviors, and skills that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship.

Related posts

Improve your sex life by increasing you emotional intelligence and creating a plan for sex!

5 Tips to Improve Sex (from a Sex Therapist)

Kyle Benson

Improving sexual intimacy requires developing emotional and sexual intelligence. It also requires planning (even if that doesn't sound sexy!) ...

Read More

The power of playtime with dad

The Power of Playtime with Dad

Alexander Elguren

Studies show there are positive outcomes for toddlers who engage in playtime with their dads. ...

Read More

Father taking his daughter and son to school

Fatherhood’s Unexpected Silver Lining 

Alexander Elguren

How emotion coaching and tribal wisdom made this single dad thrive ...

Read More

setting boundaries

Setting Boundaries With Others

Hailey Magee

An excerpt from the book 'STOP People Pleasing and Find Your Power' published by Simon & Schuster. ...

Read More

Teenager on screen- part of an adolescent mental health crisis?

Should We Be Worried About Our Teenagers?

Alexander Elguren

The stats around adolescent mental health point to a crisis, but are things really that bad? ...

Read More

Authenticity in Relationships

Anna Aslanian

To create a close, intimate connection we need to be authentic in our relationship. However, this is easier said than done. ...

Read More

Subscribe to Gottman Love Notes

Sign up and start your relationship transformation. Subscribe and get the latest on relationships, therapy, and much more from the experts. Includes a free download and access to special pricing on Gottman products every month