Friday, April 13, 2012

Weekend Homework Assignment: "Who Am I" Love Maps

At the heart of every good relationship is a good friendship. In order to better understand your partner, it is a good idea to create Love Maps of their inner psychological world. For t
oday's posting, we have developed questions to help you and your partner develop these Love Maps.  

In this Weekend Home Assignment, we'd like you to create a Love Map that includes the range of activities, joys, people, stresses, and encounters that your partner faces on a daily basis. These questions are designed to give you a better sense of what your partner goes through on a daily basis. If it helps you to write down your answers, please do so. This is not simply a one time strategy - the goal is for you to understand and remember these details about your partner's life and to build upon them as time goes on.

We've divided our questions into common aspects of daily life.  With that said, feel free to bring up topics not covered by creating questions of your own. 

Work and Professional Development

  • Who are your closest friends at work?
  • Are there any co-workers or bosses that you currently have a problem with?
  • How do you feel about your personal achievement, do you feel as though you are fulfilling your potential or that you can fulfill your potential in this position?
  • Do you ever consider changing careers, positions, or companies (organization, school, firm, etc.)?
  • What current stresses do you have at work?
If your partner is in school or unemployed:
  • What are your dreams about your future career?
  • What do you think you need to get to the job you want?
  • Are you happy and fulfilled living outside of the workforce?


  • What are the activities you do solely for the sake of enjoyment?
  • Do you get to do them as often as you would like? How can I help you to enjoy them more often?
  • What is it about your favorite activities that you find so enjoyable? Do they make you excited, passionate, relaxed, fulfilled, etc.? 
  • What are the activities that you like to do the most with me?
  • What is a hobby or activity that you would like to try or learn? What are things you would like for us to learn to do together?
  • What books, movies, TV shows, sports, and magazines do you most enjoy?

Family and Friends

  • Who are you best friends? What is it about them and your relationship that makes them so special to you?
  • What are the activities do you like doing the most with each of your close friends and family members?
  • Do you feel that you get to see your family and friends often enough? 
  • Have you seen any of your family members or friends this past week? What did you do together? Did you talk about anything that made you happy, sad, or angry?

These are questions that you can ask your partner on a regular basis to stay up to date with their lives:
  • How was your day today?
  • Did anything important happen today?
  • How was your commute?
  • Did you have any problems with clients, co-workers, your boss, the kids, etc.?

Maintaining and strengthening your relationship is an ongoing process. In fact, it’s a life long process - love maps are only a first step. Happy couples don’t “just” know each other. They build on and enhance this knowledge in many important ways, so remember to use this knowledge in order to show affection for your partner, to assist them in reaching their goals and dreams, and to be a support system for them as they face their daily challenges. 

Have a good weekend,
TGI Staff

Gottman, John. "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work". New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999. 56-60. Print.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Emotional Bids: It’s All a Game of Catch

    With the 2012 Major League Baseball season just around the corner, people across the nation are again being reminded why they love our national pastime. Since the end of last season, avid sports fans have instead had to turn their attention to football, soccer, and basketball. But it’s time to bring out the jerseys, dust off your mitts, grab a hot dog, and get back to America’s favorite sport. Sometimes a relationship can feel like it comes and goes in seasons as well, with fluctuations in satisfaction and closeness that can occur over time. Sometimes we feel as though we are in a winning streak, sometimes in a slump, and sometimes it’s as if we’re not even in the game anymore. 

      If you feel distance growing between you and your partner, communicating and making bids for emotional connection are crucial to renewing your bond. “The Relationship Cure” says that bids for connection can include affectionate touching, facial expressions, playful touching, affiliating gestures, and vocalizing to show your partner your affection and appreciation for them. You can think of making and responding to bids of emotional connection as a game of catch. When your partner tosses you the ball you can either: turn away from it and ignore their bid for contact, turn against it and throw the ball in the opposite direction, or you can turn towards their throw and respond by engaging in the game. 

      It can be hard to make that first bid for connection, as fear of rejection can make you feel like you’re throwing the first pitch of the baseball season on opening day. But building bridges with your partner in this way can create results of intimacy and stability that far outweigh the anxiety of first stepping up to the plate.

      When things are going well, sometimes couples forget that communication and talking openly about the relationship is still necessary. Couples can shy away from having conversations about their relationship beyond "yeah, we're doing really well!" for fear of jinxing their winning streak or bringing up issues that disrupt the peace. But like any head coach knows, analyzing why the pieces are coming into place is crucial to keeping it that way.  

      Relationships need to be worked constantly, regardless of whether you feel like you're the number one team. No relationship is perfect, as "we all do things that are thoughtless or insensitive - or sometimes worse - to people we care about." It is important to build up the level of goodwill between you and your partner so that "the relationship is more able to recover from the momentary irritability, regrettable comments or temporary emotional distance." This reservoir of goodwill is an Emotional Bank Account, where deposits and debits or withdrawals can occur. The more emotional "savings" that you have in your account, the easier it will be to get through the tough innings.

Ways to build up your Emotional Bank Account:

  • Turn toward your partner when they make an emotional bid
  • Show affection and appreciation through compliments, thank you's, gentle touching, and facial expressions
  • Build Love Maps to get to know your partner's thoughts, feelings, dreams and their world in general
  • Spend quality time with your partner without distractions, let them know that they are the center of your attention 

Have a good week,
K. Peterson
TGI Staff

Gottman, John. "The Relationship Cure". New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999. 31. Print.

Gottman, John, and Julie Gottman. "The Art and Science of Love: A Weekend Workshop for Couples" Workbook. Seattle: The Gottman Institute, Inc., 2000-2011. 6-8. Print.