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The Loving Perspective, Part 2

When you Assume Love and try to explain it as a loving act, do you sometimes draw a blank? This series offers some guides you can use. Yesterday, we looked at using Gary Chapman's 5 Love Languages. Today, we will apply some new research on emotions.

Let's imagine you just shared some news with your spouse, but the reaction is hardly the one you expected. It's as if he or she does not even notice whether you are delighted or anxious about it.

Well, it might not be callousness. This turns out to be one more thing our genes very likely control. People with two copies of one version of the serotonin transporter gene region 5-HTTLPR (the long allele, in case you're into doing your own genetic testing) are less sensitive to emotional information in the environment than those with one or two copies of the short allele.

A study from UCLA (see the last section of the press release) looked at 96 couples over eleven years of marriage. They found that such partners are less likely to pick up on their husband's or wife's positive or negative emotional state.

When you Assume Love because your spouse's reaction to what you just shared seems callous, give some thought to how often this happens, because it just might be genetic. If it is, before you express your outrage, try being a little more obvious about how the news affected you. If you get an empathetic reaction, it could protect both of you from the effects of unleashing your anger about the initial response.

The study is due for publication in the American Psychological Association's journal Emotion. View the study abstract here.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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