As promised in last week’s posting on The Gottman Relationship Blog, we continue our Summer Romance blog series today with an exercise to help you build connection with your partner by updating your “Love Maps.”

We’ve discussed Love Maps at length here on The Gottman Relationship Blog. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, or if you need to brush up, here is a refresher:

During the course of his research, Dr. Gottman learned that the “masters” of relationships have developed detailed maps of each other’s inner world that he calls Love Maps. We are very good at doing this in the beginning of a relationship. Do you remember staying up all night talking or finding it hard to get off the phone? During those conversations, you were building Love Maps. It can be easy to take for granted that we have to continue to do this as our worlds change over time.

Love Maps entail how well you know one another. How well do you know your partner’s inner psychological world? Do you know his or her worries, stresses, joys, and dreams? Do you know what the biggest stressor impacting your partner at work is right now? Can your partner answer these questions about you?

In the following exercise, we will give you a launching pad from which to have your own Love Map conversations this Summer. Our goal is to give you at least one new way to move through time together that will strengthen your bond and make your relationship last. The beauty of this exercise is that it can be done anywhere: down at the beach on a hot afternoon, at the park on a warm evening, or late at night in the comfort of your own cozy living room.

Instructions: Sit facing each other, one of you asks the other the first question below. The listener than answers the question as it relates to your partner’s world. For example:

Speaker: “What is your partner’s favorite thing to do in their free time?”

Listener: “I think you like to read in your free time.” – or- “I’m not sure, what is your favorite thing to do in your free time?”

Keep alternating, taking turns. This is a great way to get to know more about your partner. Remember to be gentle with each other and do not keep score. The following questions are just a place to begin. They were not picked for any particular significance and are only intended to get you started in building your Love Maps:

  •  Describe your partner’s vision for your life together over the next 5 years.
  • With whom does your partner currently have conflict?
  • Who is your partner’s favorite band or musician?
  • Does your partner have a secret ambition? What is it?
  • Which people does your partner most admire in the world? Name two.
  • What is your partner’s worst childhood experience?
  • What is your partner’s favorite holiday?
  • What is your partner most afraid of?
  • What would be an ideal job for your partner?
  • What are two of your partner’s aspirations, hope or wishes?
  • What are some of the important events coming up in your partner’s life and how does he or she feel about them?
  • What is your partner’s favorite movie?
  • Who is your partner’s greatest source of support (other than you)?
  • What is most relaxing to your partner?
  • What is your partner’s favorite way to spend an evening?

Take turns going back and forth, offering gentle corrections. Do not give advice. These questions are not meant to lead to conclusive resolution. A committed relationship is a work in progress! For more questions like these, check out our Love Map Card Deck.

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Summer Romance: Love Maps

Michael Fulwiler is the Editor in Chief of The Gottman Relationship Blog and Director of Marketing for The Gottman Institute. A proud University of Washington graduate, Michael is an avid fan of love, live music, and Seattle sports teams.