Today on the Gottman Relationship Blog, we are happy to announce the beginning of a new seven-week series: "The Sound Relationship House!" We start at the "foundation" today with the first level of the House: Build Love Maps. The principle of building Love Maps is simply this: knowing the little things about your partner’s life creates a strong foundation for your friendship and intimacy.
In his extensive research, Dr. John Gottman has found that emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s worlds. He calls this having a richly detailed Love Map - his term for that part of your brain where you store all the relevant information about your partner’s life. Another way of saying this is that these couples have made plenty of cognitive room in their minds for their relationship. They remember the major events in each other’s histories, and they keep updating their information as the facts and feelings of their spouse’s world change. They know each other’s goals in life, each other’s worries, each other’s hopes and dreams. Without such a love map, you can’t really know your partner. And if you don’t really know someone, how can you truly love them?
From knowledge springs not only love, but the fortitude to weather marital storms. Couples who have detailed love maps of each other’s world are far better prepared to cope with stressful events and conflict. Partners who are already in the habit of keeping up to date and are intently aware of what each other are feeling and thinking aren’t as thrown off course by changes and stress in each other’s lives. But if you don’t start off with a deep knowledge of each other, it’s easy for your relationship to lose its way when your lives shift with the challenges and stressors that come to you over time.
Start creating and strengthening your Love Maps today! Try to answer the following questions about each other and find out how much you really know about your partner’s world. While you’re having fun playing, you’ll also be expanding and deepening your relationship.
Love Map Exercise:
- Name my two closest friends.
- What was I wearing when we first met?
- Name one of my hobbies.
- What stresses am I facing right now?
- Describe in detail what I did today, or yesterday.
- What is my fondest unrealized dream?
- What is one of my greatest fears or disaster scenarios?
- What is my favorite way to spend an evening?
- What is one of my favorite ways to be soothed?
- What is my favorite getaway place?
- What are some of the important events coming up in my life? How do I feel about them?
- What are some of my favorite ways to work out?
- Name one of my major rivals or “enemies.”
- What would I consider my ideal job?
- What medical problems do I worry about?
- What was my most embarrassing moment?
- Name one of my favorite novels/movies.
- What is my favorite restaurant?
Asking these questions will help you develop greater personal insight and a more detailed map of each other’s life and world. However, getting to know your partner better and sharing your inner self with them is an ongoing process.
This Friday, we will post a Weekend Homework Assignment for you to explore your partner’s inner emotional world in more depth with questions that are designed to guide you through some self-exploration and to help you share this exploration with your partner. Remember, the more you know about each other, the more you feel a strong connection, the more profound and rewarding your relationship will be.
Have a good week,