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Summer Romance: Love Maps

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

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During the course of his research, Dr. John Gottman learned that the “masters” of relationships develop detailed maps of each other’s inner world called Love Maps. Couples are good at doing this at the beginning of a relationship. Remember closing down the restaurant on your first date or finding it hard to say goodbye on the phone? During those conversations, you were building Love Maps. As time goes on, it’s easy to forget the importance of this.

Building Love Maps exercise

Love Maps entail how well you know one another. Do you know your partner’s inner psychological world? Do you know his or her worries, stresses, joys, and dreams? What are their biggest stressors at work is right now? Can your partner answer these questions about you?

The following exercise is a launching pad to have your own Love Map conversations this summer or any time of year. The 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.

Exercise 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.

More questions

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 person 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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The Gottman Institute’s Editorial Team is composed of staff members who contribute to the Institute’s overall message. It is our mission to reach out to individuals, couples, and families in order to help create and maintain greater love and health in relationships.

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